Making a Tactile Box

I struggled for a long time with self-harming behaviors. As I started working on my journey to change behaviors, I noticed that many times when I selected a way to hurt myself, I would select something that had a tactical aspect to it. Equally to that, I also saw that pattern when I would try to find ways to calm myself down – the softness of something, the curves of an object, the angle of a corner, the imprint of an engraving. I have always been intrigued with how objects are put together and work, and the sensation of the object and my skin.

With this awareness I got to thinking, what can I do with that tactile desire to act as a coping device to also help me not to harm myself. My result was creating a “tactile box” that hopefully when I started to find myself in a distressing place, I could pull something out of there as a distress tolerance tool. There are many ideas for tactile boxes online. I chose the items for mine based on the items and surfaces that I felt would be most effective for me.

At the dollar store, I bought me a box and then picked up the following items:

  • Small notebook and crayons
  • Spongy duck
  • Kinetic Sand
  • Flat glass beads
  • Smooth rocks
  • Dice
  • Rubber Eraser
  • Plastic Slinky
  • Textured ball
  • Soft animal puppet

I wanted different “softer” textures. Since I knew I may be turning to this during high anxiety moments, I didn’t want anything harsh as that would be a temptation to use to hurt myself. I packed all the stuff up in the box and actually had enough stuff to make two (as most the stuff came in packs of 2 or more). I gave the second box to my therapist to share in her DBT classes and to have in her office for anyone (including me) to use.