This week I am conducting an experiment. I am eventually getting around to creating my own self-care box to help myself fight my anxiety.
What is a self-care box?
A self-care box is essentially a box of your favourite things – items that make you smile, that make you forget about your troubles for a little while or that help you to remember good times. It’s purpose is to relieve your anxiety or depression slightly by giving you things to focus on that bring you happiness or have brought you happiness in the past. It is a coping skill for relaxation and looking after yourself when you are struggling with a mental health issue.
Now, I have never tried anything like this before so I am a complete newbie to this whole creative self-help scene. I literally put a post up on Twitter asking people for ideas for what to put in my box, and I got some great responses.
Ideas for your self-care box:
Your own preferences obviously take prevalence here, and I’ve tried to include items that both men and women can use.
- DVD or your favourite box set that brings your comfort. I got some suggestions from people on Twitter such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ starring Colin Firth as it is 6+ hours long. The ‘Prison Break’ boxset as it is easy viewing and exciting enough to take your mind off things. Or even your favourite childhood movie. Mine is ‘Aladdin’ or ‘Shrek’. I always watch these and relive my childhood when I am feeling down.
- Chocolate or crisps (depending on your preferences – sweet or salty). Obviously these foods do go off eventually but if you keep some on hand and switch them up whenever you use your box they are sustainable. My favourite is chocolate, so I will try to keep a bar of dark chocolate with raspberry (from Aldi) so I can nibble on this when I am having a bad day.
*If you are struggling with an eating disorder I would leave this out as these foods can often be a trigger for a binge episode. Its up to you to decide.
- A recipe for dinner or for a dessert that you enjoy, or money for a takeout. I am including a recipe for a beef stir fry, as that is one of my favourite meals, and I always keep the ingredients in a freezer or fridge for handiness sake. You can even do some meal prepping and keep this food frozen for a bad day when you don’t feel like cooking. If you love takeaways, keep a brochure and 20 euro in your box for a treat.
- Favourite book. If you love reading, like I do, this can really take you away from your problems for a few hours. I would suggest keeping a fiction book in here as reading a self-help book about anxiety or depression when you are in this state could be counter-productive as you will often be triggered to feel worse. I am including my favourite book ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne DuMaurier, as it always drags me into its intriguing mystery and I get lost in the pages, far away from my problems.
- These can be little tea-lights that you can set for atmosphere or scented candles that remind you of something you love. I am including one I got as a gift with the scent of Amaryllis. Lovely. There are gorgeous cheap scented candles in Penneys with some very intriguing scents.
- Bath bomb or baths salts. They say taking a bath is one of the most relaxing things you can do if you are feeling down. I don’t actually have a bath in my house so instead I am including some nice smelling body lotions.
- A blanket. You can also include this outside of your box if it won’t fit.
- Photos of good times or of people or places you love. You can take these out and flick through them on a day you need reminding about some happy times.
- Positive affirmations. I am including some cards my therapist gave me to remind me that it is ok to feel bad sometimes and to give yourself time.
- Journal and pen. Include something to scribble your thoughts out or to draw or create if you are so inclined. I am including my notebook and a pen that I’ve always used to scribble my thoughts on blog posts or my own thoughts and feelings about life.
- Adult mindfulness colouring book and colours. These are so lovely when you are feeling down. I used these regularly when I was feeling anxious and depressed. It made me concentrate on something other than my thoughts.
- Other miscellaneous things you may like to do – paints, sewing, cards, drawing pad, stamps etc. Anything that can take your mind off bad thoughts and occupy you for a while. Think like a child – when you feel bad, distract yourself and comfort yourself. That’s the whole idea. I am including some fluffy socks, some nail polish and some makeup. Because that’s what I like to do.
I am using a big box that I can slide underneath my bed and that holds all of my things. It also happens to be colourful and reminds me of a happy shopping trip with my friends.
The whole idea of a self-care box is to have something easy to grab that relaxes you and calms you down. Something that gives you comfort and a way of looking after yourself on those days that taking care of yourself seems impossible.
I hope you will give this a try. I actually really enjoyed putting my self-care box together. I put on some relaxing music on Spotify as I did it and spent a nice afternoon thinking ALL about myself. I will keep you updated on whether I use this box now when I feel anxious or down.
Please let me know if you use this tool and let me know if you have any other great ideas. Every box is personal so you could have completely different things to me.
Enjoy the process guys.
Thanks to DBPsychologyServices on Twitter for her amazing input. Go give her a follow.