You’re supposed to be under less stress as your children grow older but I think someone forgot to tell that to my friends and me. I keep reading posts on Facebook and I see a lot of stress: “I’m concerned about what I’ll do with myself when my child leaves home in the fall, I’m concerned about how my child will handle the separation, my child seems to be choosing to make our lives a living hell with their attitude this last summer together, financial aid isn’t covering as much as we’d thought and now we’re scrambling”…. Really, the list of potential stressors is endless.
As for me, my previous week could be best described as “awful” and my attitude at home was similar. I was irritable with my husband and came home every night to sulk on the couch for a bit before grumpily taking myself off to bed as early as I thought I could get away with. I think my husband might have been a little afraid of me last week. If he wasn’t, he probably should have been.
During times like this, I often turn to my emergency self-care kit to help soothe my stress for a bit. If you don’t have a self-care kit, you can make one easily! Here’s why you need one and some ideas for your very own personalized self-care kit.
What is a Self-Care Kit?
A self-care kit is a collection of objects that you know will help improve your mood, ease your anxiety, or take your mind off your worries for a bit. It actually doesn’t have to be a physical kit; it can simply be a list of soothing activities, but I actually have a basket with some of my favorite self-care items in it that I turn to when I need a bit of self-care.
Without the kit to look at, I find that when I’m down in the dumps, the only things I can ever think of that seem even vaguely up to the task of cheering me up is a glass of red wine. But I’ve learned the hard way that those glasses of red wine don’t really want to cheer you up. They just want to sit with you on the couch and tell you that it really is true that life sucks and everyone is against you. They actually aren’t up to the task of cheering you up.
When I have the kit around, I can often find something that soothes my soul and makes me a happier person.
What’s in My Self-Care Kit
The items in my self-care kit serve to remind me of the activities that bring me comfort when I need it. This is what I have it in right now:
Lavender Epsom Salts
I love to take baths and yet somehow I just never do. Seeing these in my kit always reminds me of how soothing I find baths and gives me the motivation to clean out the tub for a long relaxing bath. These Epsom salts are particularly helpful now because I’m suffering from neck and bath pain and the salts help relax all my tense muscles.
Lemon Drop Candles
These guys make everything smell clean and – somehow – happy. They’re an instant mood lifter. (The Lemon Drop Candles are no longer available, but these are similar.)
Stress Relief Tea
I love all kinds of tea because it reminds me of my mom. Her favorite thing to do for a little break in the afternoon was to sit down and have a nice cup of tea. This tea has a pleasant taste and reminds me of cozy afternoons sharing a cup of tea with my mom.
Adult Coloring Book and Some Really Nice Pens
I still nerd out over school supplies and these pens are a joy to use. The flower designs in this coloring book aren’t too challenging and finishing a picture always brings me satisfaction.
A Book That Takes Its Time
If you only had one item in your self-care kit, it should be this book. Filled with activities designed to help you slow down and embrace mindfulness, this book is the ultimate hygge experience. I particularly like the section “Look around you” which guides you through a nature walk and encourages you to slow down by checking off items you see on your walk. It’s the ultimate zen scavenger hunt.
My Weighted Blanket
OK, technically this is too big for a self-care kit and I use it quite frequently, but I always pull out my weighted blanket as part of my self-care routine. It’s like being enveloped in full body hug.
Items for Your Self-Care Kit
Books from my Childhood
I love to re-read books I loved as a kid. Two of my favorite book series were the “Shoes” series like “Ballet Shoes” by Noel Streatfeild and any of the books from the Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright. During stressful times, I’ll blow through both of these series and then move on the Little House books and everything Lucy Maud Montgomery ever wrote.
These books are so soothing to me because not only do I sometimes long for the simpler time of my own childhood, but I actually pine for the even simpler times of childhoods far before my own. I’ll let the experts figure out why that’s the case; I just know re-reading these books always cheers me up.
The Princess Bride DVD
I don’t even have a DVD player any longer! But this DVD helps me to remember that re-watching feel good movies I’ve loved before is a great way to lift my spirits when I’m down.
How to Make Your Own Self-Care Kit
Find a Box or Some Other Container
Decorate it in a way that brings you pleasure. That way your box can start lifting your spirits before you even open it.
Fill Your Box with Items that Distract You from Your Anxious Thoughts
Your goal with your self-care kit is to drive out your sad or anxious thoughts for at least a little while with items that:
- Bring back fond memories
- Stimulate your senses
- Remind you of the good in the world
- Calm your breathing and heart rate
- Help you reconnect with more positive emotions
I have some ideas below, but really there are no wrong or right items for your self-care kit. Anything that brings you happiness (in a healthy way!) is perfect for your kit.
Ideas for Your Self-Care Kit
- Books that are meaningful to you.
- A book of motivational quotes and sayings. This book looks like a good choice.
- A snow globe. Double points if you have a snow globe with a fond memory behind it, but even without an associated memory, the act of shaking a snow globe and watching the glitter fall is enormously satisfying. Here’s a fun snow globe you can make yourself.
- Soothing Nature Sounds. You can include a nature sounds DVD or queue up a YouTube video like this one.
- Lists. My lists are currently written down in my copy of A Book That Takes Its Time but stand-alone lists can really work to lift your mood and you don’t need to buy a book to put them in your kit.
Some lists you might include are:
- A list of your past successes
- Inspirational quotes
- Compliments you’ve received
- People you love
- People who love you
- Songs that make you happy
If you like inspirational quotes, I have a few just for women in midlife that you can print out for your self-care kit.
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Download Ten Pages of Inspirational Quotes for Midlife Women now!
- Inspirational YouTube Videos. This could be a playlist that you created that turn to when you need or a list that you keep in your self-care kit.
I have a YouTube video that I turn to when I’m really stressed and it may surprise you. It’s from Meatballs, the Bill Murray movie from 1979. Doesn’t sound very inspirational does it?
Well, when I really need an immediate shot of self-care, I pull out this clip from the movie to remind myself that whatever I’m stressing about? It just doesn’t matter.
- While we’re on the topic of YouTube videos, this very different video really helps me calm my anxious thoughts.
- Essential Oils and Oil Diffuser for wafting sweet smells through your house. This is the one I have.
- You can also create your own DIY potpourri for beautiful smells.
- Your Favorite Recipe. And yes, go ahead and make it! I’m a huge stress baker and my go-to is soft and chewy brownies.
- A Trigger Point Massage Tool. Once you see what one of these guys can do, you’ll be using this every night.
- Your Favorite Sheet Mask. I just tried my first sheet mask a couple of weeks ago! I added these masks to my collection immediately and I’ll be putting one in my self-care kit.
- Body Lotion. There’s something really sensual about putting on some luxurious body lotion after a bath.