Staff Favorites is a monthly installation for 2019 featuring the mental health and self care picks of our very own LifeWorkers. 2019 will highlight books, self-soothing items, blogs/instagrams, places to move your body around Chicago, and more personally endorsed by LifeWorks staff. We look forward to sharing our favorites with you!

This month we are focusing on LifeWorks’ staff favorite self-soothing items. A self-soothing item is something you can carry around with you in order to help you regulate your emotions when you feel overwhelmed. Below are the objects we carry with ourselves throughout each week. As always, leave your favorites in the comments section!

Angel Ziegler:

I remember how fun it would be to play with play dough as a kid. It was a great way to get my creative energy flowing and make a little bit of a mess in the process. Recently, a friend of mine gifted me this therapy dough – which is basically play dough for adults – and I love it! It has a great, fresh sent which opens up my mind, and the feeling of squeezing it and building with it what I want helps to channel my energy and relax me.

Cindy Trawinski:

Clothing is a source of self-soothing for me.  I have some favorite pieces of clothing that have a special capacity to to help me re-identify with calm and stillness. As I think of it now, it occurs to me that these pieces of clothing resonate deeply with who I experience myself to be.  For example, navy blue is color that I have loved since I was a small child.  Its soft, dark depth is what I love about the color. When I wear all navy, I feel I am immersing myself in that soft, dark depth.  Something inside me stands still for moment and I feel myself, my own depth and softness. As I write this, I am also aware that wearing all navy is also associated in my mind with appearing in the world in a distinctive way that feels like it is only for me.  I am not conforming to anyone else’s expectations or standards. I feel like I stand fully in myself and a part from the presses of the world.

Cassandra Damm:

Legs up the wall yoga pose (if you haven’t tried this when you are feeling anxious or can’t sleep I highly recommend it).

Oils or lotions with soothing scents for self massage.

Good food/chocolate.

Being in nature, around dirt/trees/plants or looking at pictures of natural spaces.

Being with my creatures and petting them or walking them.

Betsy Duke:

I’ve carried a small stone around with me for about eleven years now. Its edges and texture have been worn fine through a decade of worried fingers, sweaty palms, and restless grip. It was given to me during a challenging time, as heat radiated up from the sand and into mid-summer 2008. It has buoyed me through times of great upheaval and transformation and I rub my thumb on it to help me stay grounded and steady.