There are moments in life when you just need to take a break. Step away from your computer, escape from a messy house, walk away from a disagreement with a loved one, release overwhelming emotions and find calm within yourself. When you are upset and feeling challenging emotions, it can feel overwhelming and sometimes unbearable. This is where a Calm Corner comes in handy.
I have used Calm Corners not only for my own children and teen clients, but also for adults that need moments of calm in order to manage their own emotions. I’ve also trained teachers how to use them in their classroom in order to better support their student’s feelings as well as their own. Many classroom teachers make an announcement that they too need to go into the Calm Corner as a way to reflect to their students that even adults need a break.
Welcome to the Calm Corner!
This is a space in which all of the senses are utilized in order to create peace within ourselves. The Calm Corner is not to be used as a "time out" or punishment. Instead, it is used in times of emotional need. It helps us learn how to self-soothe and encourages emotional regulation.
Here are just a few items you can place in your Calm Corner, focusing on each of the senses.
Relaxing music on an iPad, soothing coffee house type beats through your headphones, or soothing nature sounds are all options for your listing pleasure. While these are just a few ideas, you may feel more relaxed after a guided meditation, or while listening to repetitive drumming. Hand drums are helpful with this type of sound, which also connects your touching senses. Play whatever sounds or rhythms that help you relax, and feel the stress melt away.
You can have a lot of fun with this one. I personally love using squishy stress balls. Aromatherapy putty, fidget cubes, smooth stones, fuzzy blankets are also great for regulating emotions. Weighted blankets have been helpful in reducing feelings of stress and overwhelm, and textures from nature (like feathers and leaves from a plant) have been found to alter your mood into a more positive state. There are a tone of options out there, so gather a box of items that help you feel lighter and more at peace.
Placing your Calm Corner next to a window that looks out onto nature is extremely beneficial. Spending just a few mindful minutes observing the many colors, textures and movements within nature has been shown to reduce stress, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response. If you don’t have access to a view of the outdoors, you can place images that you find relaxing throughout your space. You can place pictures of supportive family members, cute fuzzy puppies, images of nature, funny comic strips, or words of encouragement.
The use of essential oils have been used for the treatment of various psychological and physical ailments, such as depression, anxiety, headaches and insomnia. Scents are also highly emotive, and can trigger memories in the limbic system; which means scents have a direct link to our brain and our emotions. While lavender, jasmine and vanilla have been shown to reduce the stress inducing hormone cortisol, the aroma of sandalwood, citrus and other floral scents have been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep and relieve anxiety. As scents are particular to each individual, choose scents that help you relax. My personal choice is coffee -- to each their own I say.
This one often gets overlooked. Chocolate is a solid go to, while hard candies and gum are also great choices. Whatever you place here though, make sure that it can not rot or start to decompose. The last thing you want to find in your Calm Corner is a moldy piece of fruit.
Use the Calm Corner as a way to refresh yourself, taking a moment to reconnect with your emotions, and remember to breathe.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness website for valuable resources to find help and support, or call the toll-free helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).