COMFORT OBJECTS

People find comfort in many ways while dealing with stressful and deeply emotional times in their lives. We all have things we use to soothe our nerves and ease our tension when life becomes challenging. Some people with anxiety use a comfort object. This object might be a stress ball, a gemstone, a rabbit’s foot, a pen, or anything small that can be carried around in a pocket or purse. Manipulating, rubbing, squishing, and so on distracts the struggler from the worries or thoughts that produces the anxiety.

A therapist I had gave me a smooth pink stone and told me when I started worrying to rub my finger across it. I got a little silk bag to put it in. I took it everywhere with me. I was fighting to reach recovery at the time and was struggling with racing thoughts. Each time the thoughts started, I pulled out my stone and rubbed it. I focused on the smoothness of its surfaces and its curves. Suddenly my mind was preoccupied with my stone and my racing thoughts calmed. I used this stone until I reached recovery and then put it aside.

A co-worker carries a small Lego piece with a wheel on it in his pocket. He told me it helps him with his anxiety. When he gets anxious, he twists the wheel around in circles. I see him carrying it with him at work and twisting it to calm himself. He told me he likes the feel of turning the wheel around in his hand and it distracts his anxiety.

Anything can be a comfort object as long as it’s small enough to carry around with you. The important thing is finding the right object for you. What calms one person may not calm another person. Playing with a Lego piece wouldn’t do much for me, but it’s a great help to my co-worker.

A month or so ago I found these animal-shaped squishy toys at Dollar Tree. I’ve seen kids play with squishy toys and have squished a few when going through the toy section in stores. I liked the feeling of them, so I bought one. I opened the package and started squishing it in my hand and manipulating. I loved it.

I decided to try using the squishy toys when my worries started to get the best of me. As I squished, stretched, and squeezed it, my mind became focused on the feeling of the squishy and the different things I could do with it. My mind became so focused on what I was doing, my worry eased up. Suddenly I had something to keep my mind busy and no time for my worries. Before I knew it, I became addicted to the squishy toys. Each time I went to Dollar Tree, I walked out with a new squishy toy, small ones and a bigger one. Each one small enough to put in my pocket. Now I have nineteen squishies.

I have several squishies lined up on my coffee table, one on my bedside table, and two I carry to work each day. They bring me comfort when anxiety rears its ugly head. By concentrating on the feeling of it, the different ways I can squish it, stretch it, and so on I’m distracting myself enough to stop myself from having an anxiety attack.

Anxiety strikes me the most while I’m at work and at night. Nighttime is when my worries start filling my mind. When the worries start to grow, and my anxiety threatens to make me sick, I reach for my squishy. The stress of work, especially when it gets very busy and during occasions when it’s slow and I’m bored, triggers worries which flare my anxiety. My squishy comes in handy at those moments. In between customers I squeeze it and when I’m bored, I squish, stretch, and focus on it.

In her article Using Comfort Objects to Reduce Anxiety, Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS states that in carrying with you and using a comfort object, you are not only reducing anxiety in the moment, you are training your brain to shift its focus when anxiety flares. This is very important when you struggle with anxiety. When anxiety peaks it’s hard to stop the mind from racing and worrying. Finding something to train the brain to shift from those thoughts will help you take better control of your anxiety. It’s an important factor in your recovery.

Have you found a comfort object for your anxiety? Don’t be hasty in your choices and don’t be embarrassed by the object that gives you comfort. Make sure your object is small enough to carry around with you so you can use it whenever you feel anxious. Try different objects until you find the one that fits you best. Run your finger over it, check its texture, notice how it feels in your hand, and ask yourself will the object keep your mind busy. Give it a try. You find a comfort object very helpful.

My squishy addiction is giving me comfort when anxiety strikes and helps me stay in the light of recovery.

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