I hope you are well today. However, even if you’re not doing too well, part 3 of the simple step-by-step self care series is very much for you.
(Parts 1 and 2 can be found here: https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/simple-step-by-step-self-care-series-simple-self-care-challenge-1/
Take it at your own pace, and revisit the previous ‘challenges’ as often as you like, just do what works best for you.
What is a Self-Care Toolkit and why do I need one?
Today, as you will have gathered from the title, I’m going to be talking about your ‘Self-Care Toolkit’. So, a good place to start is to discuss what a self-care toolkit is.
Like everyone, I’m sure you have your ups and downs. Some days are very good days, and others, not so much. However, some of us who suffer from and struggle with longer term health challenges such as depression, anxiety, PTSD…..the list goes on and on! the bad days can be very difficult indeed! To limit things from getting so bad that they become overwhelming and we feel that we can’t cope, we need a strategy. Even if you don’t feel that you struggle with these more severe conditions, it is still important that you are aware of how best to take care of yourself.
I find that it is usually when we are having slightly better days that it is a good time to plan ahead for the days when we will struggle. One way of doing this is to have a ‘toolkit’ for your self-care and wellbeing. The ‘toolkit’ isn’t so much a physical thing as it is a bunch of ideas for you to keep at hand so that when you are struggling you know what your ‘go to’ helpful things will be. However, you can also keep a toolkit of physical things too.
So, what goes in the toolkit?
Just as we all have different learning styles, we will also have different approaches to putting together our self-care toolkits. I’ll share some of my ideas of what works for me to give you a starting point from which to develop your own.
I personally find that I can make sense of things better with lists and categories. Therefore, I will group ideas into the following two categories:
- Emotional and psychological self-care
- Physical self-care
Emotional and Psychological Self-Care
Depending on your general wellbeing you may wish to incorporate some of the following ideas into your self-care toolkit:
- Contacts – trusted people whom you can reach out to. These might be close friends or family members, support workers, a psychologist, or even helplines that you can contact. Your resource list of contacts from organisations will depend on where in the world you live, so if you think it will be helpful to you take some time to do a little bit of research online, ask people you know or as health professionals. Make a note of contacts in your self-care journal that you started in week 1.
- Distractions – can be greatly beneficial when we find ourselves struggling or slipping into a negative mood or unhelpful thought patterns. They bring you back into the present, out of your head, and provide enjoyment and relief that can tide over your ‘bad spell’. Some of the distractions that I like to absorb myself in include: adult colouring in books (there is a plethora to choose from!), art and craft hobbies, writing, photography, music, watching a comedy, doodling, planning ahead in my diary to keep focussed on the future and planning in positive things to look forward to no matter how small they might be, reading, meeting with a friend, going outside, etc. Have a think of what your healthy distractions could be and write them down in your self-care journal 🙂
Physical self-care is equally as important as emotional self-care and you will find that a lot of aspects of both overlap with each other. Here are some starting points to consider:
- Is there anything you need to intentionally avoid in order to stay safe during difficult times? If so, have a contingency plan and where possible make sure you have a couple of trusted people that you can be accountable with.
- Plan ahead with healthy meal ideas. Nutrition is so important for both physical and mental wellbeing. If you take some time out to write down some healthy meal ideas, then when you feel stuck and unable to think of what to eat (and equally what not to eat), then you will have something written down to refer to. But don’t forget you are allowed to treat yourself every now and then aswell.
- Drink plenty of water and make healthy snacks a part of your every day routine.
- Make a note of any medications you require to take should you be likely to forget.
- Get fresh air and exercise, and where possible spend time in the beauty of nature.
- Have a bubble bath.
- Do some self-pampering at home such as making your own ‘foot spa’.
- Get the right amount of sleep.
- Practice deep breathing and relaxation.
You may also find it comforting to have a little box of ‘goodies’ of special objects or things that make you feel calm to keep at hand for times when you need that extra boost, or that just make you happier even if you already feel alright.
So, have a think about these suggestions as a starting point, and remember to make them your own. Do what works best for you, and make a note of them in your self-care journal, and I will see you soon for the next ‘challenge’.
In the meantime, stay well.
Much love, x.