Earlier this year my 6-year-old came home from school with a small silver bag containing three polished rocks. The teacher who gave them out explained the concept of a “worry stone” and told the students they could reach for one whenever they were feeling antsy or anxious. It’s a pocket-sized security blanket of sorts, and the kids took to the concept immediately and naturally.

As I thought about the effect of this tiny object -- small enough to fit in the palm of a hand yet powerful enough to absorb creeping anxiety and other negative feelings -- I realized this technique can be as helpful for adults as it is for children as a stress reliever. Designating some physical object with this kind of (imagined) power is a small effort that can have a major impact on our ability to acknowledge, move through, and then move beyond uncomfortable emotions. Having the ability to self-soothe is an underestimated life skill everyone should learn.

And keep in mind that a worry stone doesn’t have to be a stone at all; it can take many forms and be used in many different situations, whatever works best for the individual. Maybe it’s a bracelet to fiddle with before giving important presentations at work, or perhaps some special token to focus on during your bedtime ritual that helps melt away the stress of the day. Whatever it looks like, the important part is taking those moments to acknowledge -- not ignore or deflect or invalidate -- your feelings so you can go forward with clarity and composure into a calmer, happier space.