Comfort Box: The 72 Hour Kit that will save you from becoming a zombie.



Am I prepared? Anytime I am watching a zombie apocalypse roll forth on television I question if my emergency preparedness supplies are sufficient. Would I survive or become a zombie? The ward emergency preparedness guy hides from me the week after an especially violent episode of The Walking Dead. To be fair, he has already helpfully referred me to the CDC guide to surviving zombies.

I don’t have any life experience in surviving disasters of the natural or zombie variety, but another kind of disaster rolls through my life routinely. Emotional earthquakes, fire, tsunami, tornado, or sometimes (on a slow news day) a muddy puddle are enough to knock me out. I am regularly afflicted with unwanted feelings of depression, anger, loneliness, betrayal, sadness, boredom, jealousy, or confusion.  Some days I have no idea what I am feeling. I only know that bad stuff happens and keeps happening. Too often the tornado sets me down in my own emotional zombie apocalypse.

When faced with emotional disaster, my first response is to become a zombie. I was raised in a home without healthy models of how to express and positively cope with challenging emotions. My inclination is to eat my feelings while numbing out on a binge read or a mindless Facebook game. As I compare my response to family traditions of alcoholism, drug addiction, violence, or child abuse; being an emotional zombie doesn’t seem so bad. Unfortunately, the zombie life fails to bring me lasting relief and harms my health through impaired sleep and weight gain. The unwanted feelings remain and eventually demand attention. These are the times when I turn to my emotional 72 Hour Kit: The Comfort Box.

How prepared are you for the next emotional tsunami? Will you become a zombie? Read on to learn how you can get your very own Comfort Box!

comfort box

How to Make a Comfort Box
Step 1. Get a box (or a bag, backpack or some other type of container). Fancy or plain, decorate it or don’t, but make sure it is large enough to contain what you will put inside. I am low on storage space so my comfort box only has index cards and sticky notes with directions and suggestions for comfort. If I had more room, my box would be large enough to contain some of my favorite comfort objects.
Step 2. Put some comfort in the box that you can turn to in lieu of zombie/maladaptive coping strategies. The comfort can take the form of real objects inside the box or suggestions and directions. Consider your different senses (Sight, sound, smell, etc…) and include a variety of comfort. You are the expert on what will bring you comfort.

Comfort Ideas (These are in my box. Copy, ignore, or adapt as best meets your needs.)
1. Do the Downward Dog yoga pose for 20 deep breaths.
2. Put some new affirmation graffiti on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker.
3. Rip newspaper while naming things that really burn me up. Then trash or burn the shreds.
4. Wrap up in a fuzzy blanket and watch a favorite TED Talk.
5. Call or text a friend (I have a card for each go-to person).
6. Cuddle with a cat and tell them how I am feeling.
7. Read or You Tube some Chieko Okazaki.
8. Jump on trampoline while chanting 3 things that are great about me.
9. Use sidewalk chalk to write about why I am upset then wash it away.
10. Dance to a favorite song.
11. Rub my feet with great smelling lotion.
12. Name a feeling with each bite of Trader Jo’s dark chocolate caramel wedges.
13. Put on a sexy pair of underpants.
14. Read old birthday cards. Name the giver and say out loud how they’ve shown care or love for me.
15. Scream obscenities or nonsense words into a pillow.
16. Write a thank you card to someone else or just myself.
17. Have a cup of herbal tea and take a deep belly filling breath of air through the nose and out through the mouth before each sip of tea.
18. Look at photos from a favorite trip or event. Write some favorite memories evoked by the photos.
19. Pull some weeds in the garden and name something I want to eliminate from my life with each weed I dig up.
20. Get cozy and read a favorite book. Write down favorite quotes. Stop and feel as I read.

Did you notice Idea 12 includes chocolate? This could be a zombie choice for me. I have reduced the harm by making it one choice among many in my box. I have to draw a lot of cards to pull this one! I have also increased the mindfulness of this comfort act by connecting it to expressing feelings. Similarly, Idea 20 becomes a mindful choice as I write down quotes and check in with my feelings.

Finally, once you’ve made your box. Use it! Sunday I keep it holy by setting aside time to review the contents of my box and make additions. It is a chance to reflect on how much I have used or ignored the box during the week and make adjustments. Some days I still make zombie choices in response to stress, but sometimes a choice from the Comfort Box gives me the strength I need to survive my own zombie threat.

What brings you comfort?

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11 Responses

  1. Jdawg says:

    This reminds me of the LDS Living article: 11 reasons you’ll be glad you’re Mormon during a zombie apocalypse.

  2. Jenny says:

    This is a great idea and probably something I need to create for myself right now as I have had my own fair share of zombie attacks lately.

  3. Ziff says:

    Sorry to just suggest a link rather than useful ideas of my own, but I just recently listened to Tresa’s fMh podcast interview of Julie de Azevedo Hanks, and they talked a lot about self-care in times of stress. A lot of the things they talked about line up with your comfort box suggestions, so I thought someone reading this might appreciate the podcast episode too.

  4. Emily U says:

    Loved this. I like how you name unhelpful coping strategies “zombie” strategies. I often wish I was using better strategies to deal with stuff, and like your approach a lot.

  5. Cruelest Month says:

    More thoughts as I read your responses:

    I loved the podcast with Julie de Azevedo Hanks. The self care discussion starts around minute 48:00 and at 57:96 the host provides an extensive list of self care ideas.

    It frustrates me that as a body of Saints we are attuned to emergency preparedness and provident finance, with a tendency to stuff down emotions that are “not nice”. I do see this shifting with more members using self care as a means to accept Christ’s atonement.

    I have described my comfort box, but my favorite box ever belonged to a traumatized child. He had an enormous box with a blanket, fuzzy pillow, stuffed animals and a phone book. He’d crawl into his box when he needed soothing and would rip the pages of the phone book to release anger. I wish I’d had a box like that as a child!

  6. Caroline says:

    Love this post, Cruelest Month. I really need to make a box like this for myself.

    How do I find comfort?
    – Mike and I exchange back rubs. That totally helps de-stress me.
    – hot baths
    – watching HGTV. I have no idea why that is relaxing to me, but it is.
    -connecting with friends, usually online, since most live far away. coming to this blog is a good way for me to feel like I’m not so alone
    – going to a zumba class
    -eating mocha almond fudge ice cream

    Not sure if all of those are great coping mechanisms, so doing some of the things you suggest sounds like a good plan. I love those ideas.

  7. Rachel says:

    There is so much that I loved about this post, April. Thank you for your openness in sharing it.

    One of my favorite things I have learned in Mormonism is that the body and spirit are one, and that they together make the soul. It makes sense that we could use a physical, tangible object to help our spirit. (That tiny boy’s really sounds perfect.)

    I’ve also had success in writing notes to myself as good reminders in less good moments, though mine have been more academically driven. A woman I admire told me that I could do great things in small chunks of time, and I believed her. But, to get it to work, I had to pre-write notes of how I could effectively use those little chunks of time that always come. Otherwise, it is so easy, even when not sad, to sit back and play tetris.

  8. Isabella says:

    I love this idea. I think the process of creating my comfort box will be so good for me. Just taking time to think about things that will bring me peace, help center me, or maybe remind me that I have a sense of humor will help make those emotional disasters a bit easier to cope with. Thanks for sharing.

  1. July 15, 2014

    […] When faced with emotional disaster, my first response is to become a zombie. I was raised in a home without healthy models of how to express and positively cope with challenging emotions. My inclination is to eat my …read more […]

  2. May 17, 2015

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