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DIY Self-Care Kit (World Mental Health Day 2017)

By Lindsay Wrapson

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What is a self-care kit?

A self-care kit is your go-to gal (or guy!) when your day has quite frankly, been rubbish. Whether you’ve felt mentally drained by 9:10AM, or your anxiety is kicking off again, or you just need that little piece of comfort to help your mind stick at bay. A Self Care kit is a mixture of your go-to items which help stimulate your senses and take your mind off what is actually going on. These items should be kept close-by or within reach for when you feel you may need it.

What do you need?

All you need is a few items. It can be as little as 5. Please feel free to add more (you are in control!). I like to keep mine organised because that makes me feel better.

What can go in it?

In a nutshell, you ideally need items which will stimulate your senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. Here are some tips for what you can use for these senses:

Touch: Something you can fidget with, say a stress ball, elastic band, a paper clip or even something as simple as a small piece of blu-tac! If you’re at home and have a pet – winner! Spend some time with your pet, it’s known that this kind of affection does help with mental health! Ps, one word: Blankets.

Taste: Now this is an excuse to treat yo’self! Polo mints or chewing gum are known for being good “de-stressor” sweets. I prefer the sweet stuff! Hard-boiled sweets are always in my bag. Trust me if I could fit a full slab of chocolate cake in my bag I would, but for me tough sweets are the next best thing.

Smell: This doesn’t technically count as being included in the ‘self-care’ kit, but if I’m feeling super stressed or anxious and wound up, I find opening a window and getting some fresh air a good place to go. I enjoy taking a deep breath and trying to find a smell from the outside even if it is just for a few minutes. It helps focus my mind on what’s going on outside, rather than freaking out. If you’re at home, light some of your favourite candles!

Sight: If I’m needing a bit of a pick me up I find it the most useful to have a look on Pinterest and nose through inspirational quotes that not only retain my focus but help distract me from my worries. Not only does it make me feel better, it’s always good to know that someone else has felt the same.

Sound: Again, I’m not sure if this would count but – headphones. I carry my headphones/earphones everywhere with me just in case Polly the Panic hits. Stick them in and tune everything out. Take deep breathes and enjoy a bit of S-Club 7 or the cheesiest songs on the planet. Just take a break and listen to something other than the voice in your head.

I can appreciate that sometimes the comforts may not be within physical reach. If this is the case, please feel free to follow some tips:

If you’re at work and struggling to concentrate on anything other than what’s going on in your head (the little things!) – carry a worry journal with you. It’s good to write your thoughts, worries and concerns down and deal with it in a way that suggests you’ll “worry about it later”. When you get home, rip up those pieces of paper and actively throw them in the bin. They’re useless. And it feels good to know that doing that simple thing makes you feel more in control.

Napping. I am a nap champion. If I’m anxious or wound up then I feel so mentally drained that all I want to do is nap. So I do. And when I wake up? I feel at least 99% better. Reading also helps take your concentration elsewhere and focus on someone else’s story.

Breathe. Just take a minute and breathe. It feels so good to just exhale the crap! Practising Mindfulness can help you become more aware of the present moment and can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better. Try it!

World Mental Health Day helps raise awareness of Mental Health issues. Please don’t bottle it up, talk to someone. It’s ok to not be ok.

Helplines:

MIND – mind.org.uk (0300 123 3393)

Samaritans – samaritans.org (116 123)

Anxiety UK – anxietyuk.org.uk (08444 775 774)