If you want to make it easy to regularly practice self-care, you should create an emergency self-care kit so you always have tools on-hand to soothe anxiety and lift your spirits. Here’s how to make a DIY kit of your very own to support your mental health and some ideas on what to include in your self-care kit.
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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 from Bath & Body Works. 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.
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.
Childhood Books for Self-Care
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.
I have a secret feel-good movie to watch when things are really bad. It’s Meatballs, the Bill Murray movie from 1979 that was meant to be “Animal House goes to summer camp.” But it was too sweet to pull that off. And 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.
Adult Coloring Book and Some Really Nice Pens. At heart, 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.
How to Make Your Own Self-Care Kit
Find a box or some other container and decorate it in a way that brings you pleasure. That way your box can start lifting your spirits before you even open it.
Look for items that engage your senses. Looking back over my self-care kit, I see that I have items to engage my sense of smell (the epsom salts and the candles), taste, (the tea) sight (the books), sound (the movies) and touch (the weighted blanket).
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.
- Favorite recipes.
- Compliments you’ve received.
- People you love.
- Songs that make you happy.
Ideas for Your Self-Care Kit
If you’re interested in making your own self-care kit, here are some ideas to get you started.
I’ve included some virtual resources here in the form of links to videos online. If you would like to include some of these in your kit, just write the URL down on an index card for your kit. Or write this link down on an index card and you can find your way back to this post any time!
Items to Satisfy Your Sense of Sight
Oddly Satisfying Video -- Literally what the name says. I can watch these for hours.
Inspirational Quotes for Women in Midlife
This printable PDF is perfect for women over 40 and is filled with inspiration you can print for your self-care kit.
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.
Items to Satisfy Your Sense of Hearing
Meditation for Anxiety -- Yoga With Adriene
Items to Satisfy Your Sense of Smell
Essential Oils and Oil Diffuser for wafting sweet smells through your house.
Ingredients for a Stove Top Potpourri
Items to Satisfy Your Sense of Taste
Actually, this one hits all the senses if you actually make the recipe! I’m a huge stress baker and my go-to is soft and chewy brownies.
Items to Satisfy Your Sense of Touch
Trigger Point Massage Tool
Your Favorite Sheet Mask
I really miss having my daughter around because she was my supplier of sheet masks. She always had a stash in her bathroom and I got spoiled because all I had to do was go grab one. However, I’m getting very into Korean beauty products these days and these sheet masks are on my to-buy list.
There’s something really sensual about putting on some luxurious body lotion after a bath. You absolutely can’t go wrong with Lush’s Sleep Body Lotion which makes your skin butter soft while smelling of wonderful Lavender to help you sleep.