Published from Feb 2016
Written by: LeKesha
I love self-care kits.
From my first-aid kit to my zombie apocalypse go bag, they’re handy self-care kits for bad days. If I’m lucky, I can go long enough without needing the one I’ve set up for my down days that I forget what’s in it, so when I do look inside, it feels like a surprise. Corny? Yes, but effective. Now, the depression community is divided about the use of self-care kits. Some view it as a frivolous sort of band-aid approach to a much more perilous problem.
The idea behind the self-care kit is sensory control. If you’re someone living with depression, plenty of things feel out of control. You likely have obligations that won’t hold until you can collect yourself. Your kit is all the things you want in your protective bubble and nothing you don’t.
Staples might include:
A journal. They’re useful for holding your support circle’s contact information, recording positive affirmations, managing goals, doodling, rattling off therapeutic torrents of profanity, and chronicling meals and other parts of your personal maintenance as prescribed by your health professional. I’m better with freeform, but The Self-Care Journal by Rachelle Abellar contains prompts and outlines if you need a bit of structure.
A playlist. Like kits, I have a playlist for everything. On my down days, I listen to what I call my Blue Music. It isn’t a bastion of positivity because when I’m not feeling my best, rainbows and unicorns aren’t really my thing. You might opt to pass on music altogether in favor of white noise or whale sounds.
A yoga mat. Yoga is great for a lot of reasons and is sometimes featured on lists of therapeutic physical activities. When I’m depressed, though, I’m not exactly motivated to use my yoga mat unless I’m lying on it in the middle of the floor for a few hours listening to the aforementioned Blue Music. And that’s okay.
A scent. This is one of those things that can go to work with you. It can be a lotion, a body wash, a candle, whatever calms or gives you some semblance of peace. Personally if the entire world smelled like Neutrogena RainBath body wash (and maybe cinnamon rolls sometimes), I wouldn’t be upset.
Mental rest or stimulation. I keep my favorite book and a few of my favorite movies in the kit: Singin’ in the Rain, 101 Dalmatians (animated, of course), and Snatch. The familiarity allows me to zone out if need be without missing anything I’ve already seen. Alternately, self-care might be carving out time to pursue a hobby or something that keeps your mind busy as opposed to resting it. This would be where materials for your coloring, puzzling, gaming, gym-going, and leisure cooking might come in.
There are other things to help with symptom management for chronic illnesses, comfortable clothes, vitamins, and exercise. The point, however, is to know your needs and your limitations, and when you have yourself together, you can anticipate and make arrangements for the times you don’t.
Don’t forget to:
- Take your meds.
- Take a shower – not to keep up appearances, but because it’s an act of self-love and an often convenient place to cry if you need to in private.
- I’m a control freak, and I’ve been known to over-extend myself. It’s important to keep in mind your resources and responsibilities when arranging for self-care time. Which of your normal duties can be delegated or postponed? For the things you must prioritize, how can you minimize the adverse impact on your energy? Breathe, and remember that nothing that needs doing today, tomorrow, or this week, is worth breaking yourself to accomplish.
You can also receive therapy online by signing up with BetterHelp. The online platform is committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches so they make it easy and free to change counselors if needed. You can try it free for 7 days and have options for a reduced rate after the 7-day perod if you find the therapy sessions useful. It’s more affordable than traditional offline counseling and financial aid is available.
If you are experiencing a significant depressive event, contact someone in your support circle or the fine people at these support numbers:
- Depression Hotline:1-630-482-9696
- Suicide Hotline:1-800-784-8433
- Trevor Project (LGBTQ Help Line):1-866-488-7386
- Sexuality Support: 1-800-246-7743
- Eating Disorders Hotline: 1-847-831-3438
- Rape and Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673
- Grief Support: 1-650-321-5272
- Runaway:1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000
- Exhale (After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice): 1-866-4394
What’s in your kit?
LeKesha is a web developer and book blerd. She advocates strongly for carefree blackness in literature, and prefers bloody over sparkly when selecting her anime. She takes her whiskey neat and her coffee with cream, sugar, and marshmallows, too, if you have them. If not, don’t worry about it.
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