I recently finished reading ‘The Self-Care Project’, a fantastic book by Jayne Hardy (founder of the Blurt Foundation) and was inspired to create my own ‘Self-Care First Aid Kit’. I procrastinated on putting it together for some time (days, not weeks – progress) before doing so, but I’m so glad I finally did it! This kit has been a bit of a life-saver over the past few cold and stressful weeks, so much so I now wonder how I ever made it through my rough days last year without it!
To begin this project, I wrote a list of the things I wanted to go into it. As I chose items to go in I tried to consider what helps me to feel calm when I’m having a panic and/or anxiety attacks (I get both – lucky me) and when I’m feeling really depressed. I also tried to think about self-care items and products that don’t need too much faffing around to use or time to set up.
This is my ‘first aid kit’! It was just a cardboard box left over from Christmas that I covered in wrapping paper leftover from my niece’s birthday to make it slightly more exciting. I’m planning on adding some jazzy stickers or perhaps some motivational quotes at some point. I may even re-cover it with something a bit more grown-up and sophisticated at some point (maybe).
I have broken down the contents of my kit into how they help calm each of my senses.
When it’s all gone wrong getting into my ‘Laura cave’ is my number one priority. It’s the quickest and easiest thing I can do to help myself feel better without having to try and think about things too much. For this I need;
-Hot water bottle for my belly. I still have an Eeyore hot water bottle cover from when I was a kid and it’s the cosiest thing!
-Snug pyjamas – I like mine extra tall (because I am) and ideally covered in cute animals.
-Fluffy socks or slippers. Nobody was ever cosy with cold toes.
– My bed/ sofa/ underneath the kitchen table if necessary.
All these things help me to feel safe, warm and cosy in my own little cocoon.
When I feel rubbish, I tend to forget to eat and drink, which of course makes anything stressful going on feel 10 times worse. Generally, I try to eat quite healthily, but at these moments I just need a little hit of sugar in the form of my favourite comfort food- chocolate. A hot sugary cup of tea helps calm me and I try to stay hydrated by having a water bottle nearby all the time. A water bottle with a sippy top means I can sip water whilst lying down too (my favourite position).
I am lucky to have supportive friends and family, some of whom have been so thoughtful over the time I have been unwell and sent me some lovely cards and letters. This kindness is very much appreciated and when I feel up to it, having a read through them can really help me to remember that I am loved and cared for. Unfortunately, when my thoughts are running away with themselves, kindness from others can be difficult to accept. For such days, I need some Disney magic. Singing animals and modern feminist princesses (Merida & Mulan- yes, Cinderella – less so) are me all over and you always know there is going to be a happy ending. Even if it’s not necessarily Disney I would thoroughly recommend watching your favourite kid’s movie whenever you’re feeling down it always does me the world of good!
There are also lots of lovely positive affirmation books and cards you can buy, or make your own versions of, which can be a nice little pick-me-up once the worst of the storm has passed and I’m ready to start feeling better.
I love a good smelly! I really like lighting candles because they look pretty basically. They also make the room smell lush, which is very helpful if I haven’t cleaned the house in weeks. Knowing I have that back-up light source is also good for disaster-related anxiety. There is a whole world of fancy smelling products available now which claim (boldly) to help make you feel calmer and happier just by spraying them/rolling them on your head. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just spray the crazy away?! SO GREAT. Obviously, that little pipe dream of mine hasn’t quite hit the market yet, but I do like burning lavender oil when I’m feeling rubbish.
Most of the time, the thing I want for my ears if I’m feeling panicky and overwhelmed is silence so that I can try and quiet down all that noise in my head. Of course, trying to find silence in real life is almost impossible. I often find the more desperate I get for a bit of peace and quiet, the louder everything and everyone seems to get. Noise-cancelling headphones are an absolute sanity-saver on these occasions and quite often I will just listen to white noise to help calm me down. I also like a band called Marconi Union, whose song ‘Weightless’ was created with sound therapists to dramatically reduce stress and lower heart rate (Take a looksie here for more anxiety reducing music ideas).
Having all these items together in one box that is on a shelf that I can see and get to all the time is such a comfort. There’s nothing in there that will go bad or need replacing very often (depending on how quickly I get through my chocolate supply), so it doesn’t just become another thing to worry about maintaining either. Most importantly, having all my self-care first aid tools together in one box has meant that I end up feeling calmer and more like myself much sooner than beforehand. I’m quite smitten with my self-care first aid kit so far! I’m keeping a running list of any other tips or products I come across that help me feel less overwhelmed and panic-y. I would love to hear any suggestions of things that help you regain your chill too! Until next time, keep fighting the good fight my friends.