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Stress is everywhere. Try as you might to avoid it, it always seems to sneak up on you. Some days are easier than others. What do we do when everything goes wrong and it all piles up? How do we deal with it when we can’t seem to catch a break?

Many people turn to destructive behaviors as a way to cope with stress. That is not the answer. Using unhealthy coping mechanisms can cause serious damage to your body and your mind. Fortunately, there is a better way to keep your cool when you need a quick and safe escape from the madness: a coping skills toolbox.

Find an empty shoebox, drawer, backpack, or any container that you can have easy access to when you need it. The idea is to fill it with things that can help you deal with an emotional crisis in a safe and healthy way. Sensory grounding tools that can bring you out of your head and into the moment are key.

Here are a few things that I keep in mine:

  • Small notebook
  • Chamomile tea bags
  • Minty floss
  • Play-doh
  • Sewing kit
  • Important phone numbers (including the Lifeline)

Some things wouldn’t fit in my toolbox, so I made of list of other ideas to keep in there: meditate, do yoga, go for a walk, clean, check on a family member, breathe.

When something is seriously stressing you out and you’re on the verge of a meltdown, your toolbox can provide a temporary distraction. After a little while, you’ll be able to go back to the situation with a clear head and a calmer disposition. This can save you from doing something dangerous to yourself or others.

I would suggest doing this project as soon as possible so that when the time comes, you’re not left frantically searching for an escape. Make a playlist of your favorite songs, grab a box, and start packing!



  • Josiah Ribeiro

    My mother really stresses me out. Sometimes I feel like I’m not even alive in my house. As soon as she comes home she ignores me, and I have to repeat myself many times to get her attention. On top of that, everything that is her problem is all of a sudden my fault. If she loses something important, it’s my fault, even if it obviously isn’t my fault. I had a bad childhood and was fatherless most of it, which means I have a giant buildup of anger that has just been growing over the years. I am currently 14 years old. I fear that one day im gonna let out 14 years of anger, and I fear for the ones around me. I need anger management, but my mom is single and we live in a one bedroom apartment with my 2 year old sister and we are always broke. Sometimes I feel like I want a different life, one with the attention, love, money, and happiness I deserve. I don’t know, I still have my whole life ahead of me


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    • You Matter

      You Matter You Matter


      The Lifeline is here for anyone who is struggling with anything (work, school, job, relationships, etc.). You do not need to be feeling suicidal to call us. All calls are free and confidential so pass along our number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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