Summer is supposed to be a time of fun and relaxation but it can actually be a difficult time for many of us in midlife. I keep reading posts in a Facebook group I belong to for parents of children who have left home or about to 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 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.
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As for me, my previous week could be best described as “shitty” 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.
Sadly, the situation causing my personal grumpiness is going to continue for a while and my fellow midlife parents are also going to continue to have their stress levels tested until they finally drop their children off at the dorm and drive away (at least!) If we want to make it through summer, we’re going to need some healthier coping techniques than sulking on the couch. That’s why I was so excited to read this post of Mental Health Hacks that mentioned the self-care rescue box – a pre-made kit of soothing items to keep on hand for the bad days we all have.
What a fabulous idea! 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 up depressed me are glasses 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.
So I set out this weekend to make a self-care kit of things that really are up to the task of cheering me up and distracting me when I’m blue. Here’s what I came up with.
- My one remaining Lush Bath Bomb and these lovely Lavender Epsom Salts. I love to take baths and yet somehow I just never do. Hopefully seeing these in my kit will remind me how soothing I find baths and remind me to take one.
- Amazing smelling candles which I’ve owned forever and yet never light. Again, seeing them in my kit will remind me to actually use the things that bring me pleasure.
- Books from my childhood. I love to comfort read books I loved as a kid and in fact, this is the one habit that I can remember to do when I’m stressed. 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 the Little House books and everything Lucy Maud Montgomery ever wrote. So, apparently, not only do I 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 it works. (Note, in a pinch I’ll go with Bill Bryson, who feels like the grown-up version of comfort reading your childhood faves.)
- Comfort entertainment (represented here by the one DVD I still own). Ironically, my bad habit is to come home and mindlessly TV when I’m depressed and then to look up three hours later and feel useless and like my soul is bloated from too much crappy television. But, mindfully watching a movie or TV show that feeds my soul is a surefire way to improve my mood. The problem, of course, is that I can’t think of movies or TV shows might feed my soul when I’m down and I don’t have the energy to try to figure that out. I’ve included in this post two playlists of the best moments of two of my favorite TV show for comfort watching lift any mood for both you and me when we’re feeling down.
- This blanket. Isn’t it beautiful? It’s all silky soft and just perfect for wrapping yourself in after a hard day. Can’t you feel it whispering encouraging thoughts into your ear while the two of you watch TV? It’s also a great Instagram background – a true multi-tasker.
That’s what I’m including in my self-care kit. What would you include in yours? I’d love to know.
YouTube Playlists for When You Feel Down