Looking after your own mental wellbeing is a goal that many of us share. However, it's not always easy to know where to start. One simple thing you can do is to create your own mental health self-care kit. Having this handy means that you have a source of comfort and relief when facing difficult situations. Best of all, there are no rules! You decide what goes into your kit: tailor it to your needs and include whatever brings you joy, calmness or relief.
If you're looking for a few pointers, you've come to the right place. In this guide, we'll explore some options for what you can put into your mental health self-care kit. We'll also show you how you can make a digital self-care kit that you can add to your phone and carry with you wherever you go. Let's get started!
Why do you need a mental health self-care kit?
If you've never considered creating a self-care kit before, you might not be familiar with the benefits of doing so. Here are some key reasons why it's great to have a mental health self-care kit ready:
- It's there when you need it. Virtually all of us will experience mental health problems from time to time. This can be anything from a rough day at work to a sudden panic attack. When these issues rear their ugly head, a self-care kit can be an immediate source of comfort.
- It can provide relief from anxiety and stress. When you're anxious, you can find yourself experiencing a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. The items in your self-care kit can help to reduce your stress levels and ground you in the present moment.
- It encourages you to consider your mental health. It's common for us to have items like painkillers or plasters on hand if we experience physical injuries. Having a self-care kit ready means that you're paying just as much attention to your mental wellbeing.
- It gives you control. Mental health crises can often cause us to spiral into panic. Preparing a kit that you can always have on hand is a proactive step that enables you to be ready for whatever life throws at you. This in turn can be self-empowering.
Before getting together the contents of your mental health self-care kit, it's good to have an idea of where you're going to put them all. The good news is (and this will be a recurring theme!): it's totally up to you. It can be something as simple as a shoe box or an old rucksack or tote bag. However, if you want your kit's container to be more elaborate or decorative, then go for it! Why not try something colourful to brighten your mood, or wrap it up like a gift you're giving to yourself?
Whatever the outside of your kit looks like, think carefully about where to store it. If your kit is shoved to the back of a cupboard or hidden away in a hard-to-reach spot, then it won't be on hand when you really need it. So, while you don't have to have your self-care kit out on display, be sure to store it somewhere that's easy to remember and easy for you to get to.
What goes into your mental health self-care kit?
It's time to start putting together your self-care kit! It should go without saying, but the contents of your kit will be personal to you, and no two will look exactly alike. Nevertheless, if you're struggling to know where to start, here are some tips on what you could include:
- Many self-care kits contain items that stimulate each of the senses. To start with, focus on items that you can touch. Including a stress ball or fidget toy can keep your hands occupied. Others prefer soft materials, such as a blanket, or items with sentimental value like a childhood toy.
- Next, we'll think about sound. The obvious choice here is music, which could be included in the form of a Spotify playlist, a mixtape, or a few records that you like. Some people may find ambient sounds or white noise calming, while others may wish to include a podcast or some guided meditation.
- Your self-care kit can also include some of your favourite scents. Strong-smelling essential oils are a good choice, or you could consider a scented candle. Alternatively, you could pack a perfume or fragrance that you like.
- When it comes to taste, you can put any snacks that you like into your kit. Sour candies, chewing gum or peppermints can work well, but feel free to go for chocolate, biscuits or anything you fancy! Don't forget something to drink, too: avoid alcohol, and instead opt for your favourite tea or a mug of hot chocolate. (Bonus: have a bottle of water on hand so that you can stay hydrated!)
- The last sense to address is sight. You've got a world of options here—it really can be anything that makes you feel good or reminds you of a happy memory. It could be photographs of friends or family or some quotes that inspire you. However, any object that you like looking at can work—why not a snowglobe or a kaleidoscope?
- Having a notebook to write down your thoughts and feelings can be really useful at helping you to process your emotions. Meanwhile, if you need something calming, then a colouring book and some pencils can provide you with a much-needed distraction!
Don't forget that this list is just the tip of the iceberg! Your kit really could include anything, from running shoes so that you can exercise through to a weighted blanket to relieve anxiety. Your kit is yours, so make it personal to you!
On-the-go self-care kits
Our advice above covers a mental health self-care kit that you can keep at home. However, we all know that mental health problems can happen anywhere. So, what can you do if you need some relief while you're out and about?
The answer is to make yourself an on-the-go self-care kit. Think of this as a miniature version of your main kit that you can pick up and take with you. While you won't be able to include everything, it's easy to carry a few basics.
Your on-the-go kit could be as simple as an essential oil roll-on, a pack of gum, and a fidget toy. Just don't forget your phone: we're about to cover how it can help you out!
Digital self-care kits
As we've mentioned above, your smartphone can be a vital part of looking after your mental wellbeing, especially when you're away from home. That's because you can use it to create your own digital self-care kit.
Think of a digital self-care kit as a virtual counterpart to the kit that lives in your house. Instead of physical objects, create a folder on your phone that includes photos, videos, music and other sounds that you like. You can also save any messages that help you get through difficult times.
Meanwhile, some aspects of your digital kit won't have any analogue in the physical world. For example, you can bookmark any websites that can help you to relax, or even group together self-help apps, such as those that focus on meditation and mindfulness.
While you can't replicate every part of a mental health self-care kit on your phone, it can prove invaluable when you need instant relief from stress, anxiety or panic.
If you're looking to learn more about all things mental health, you're in the right place. The ManageMinds Blog is updated regularly with advice on a variety of topics, including more self-help tips that can boost your wellbeing.
Want more than just self-help? ManageMinds' network of therapists is here to assist you. Visit our services page to learn more about our therapy sessions and bespoke programmes and see how you could get help from a professional as soon as tomorrow.
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