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What most people don’t realize is that practicing self-care doesn’t have to just mean eating right, exercising, meditating, or going to a spa to indulge. While these are all good ideas for your health, there are simpler (and cheaper) ways to give yourself a mental and emotional gift at any time of the day. When we perform self-care practices, it allows the mind, body, and spirit to take space from our surrounding environment and become grounded in the present moment.
Let’s look at some ideas to help you integrate self-care into your routine, as well as some things to keep in your self-care kit.
I like to tap into my five senses to get my self-care kit started because it allows me to situate myself in the present moment.
For example, aromatherapy works with the sense of smell and is beneficial for grounding or increasing pleasant feelings. Studies have shown that aromatherapy can reduce anxiety and increase sleep quality.
Then, there’s the sense of touch. Snuggling with something soft, such as a blanket or a pet, is another way to provide soothing effects.
There’s no right or wrong way to build this kit because it relies on what works for you as an individual. Over time you may want to switch it up or add things as you acquire them.
Keep in mind, the items do not have to fit into an actual kit or basket, but it is good to have them readily available.
Below are some examples of what I keep in my self-care kit. You can use these ideas to help you build yours.
Scents have proven to be beneficial for relaxation and lowering stress. According to a systematic review of essential oils used in aromatherapy by the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, “the whole body is rejuvenated by the use of aroma.”
In a randomized intervention study by Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine between showering and bathing, bathing was shown to reduce stress, anxiety, anger, and depression.
Baths can be extremely relaxing, and when you take a bath with bath products like the ones in the following list, it engages the senses from multiple angles.
Every child uses items to self-soothe and calm themselves, such as a blanket or a pacifier. As an adult, it is just as healthy to use comforting items. For example, research shows that weighted blankets can reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
Here are some ideas you might consider:
There are also plenty of things we can do to relax and care for ourselves that are mentally stimulating. For example, numerous studies indicate that adult coloring books have a positive effect on mental health.
Here, you’ll find items that I use in my self-care kit to keep my mind busy while relaxing me at the same time:
The sense of taste can be very soothing, especially when we eat slowly and mindfully, remembering to stay in the moment. Try these tasty treats:
Listening to music is a quick and easy way to shift your mood. It has been shown to affect the autonomic nervous system, helping it to recover faster from stressors. In fact, Stanford University researchers go as far as to say that, “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.”
Try the following depending on the effect you are going for:
If you’re not ready to build a self-care kit or if it doesn’t resonate with you, another option is to use a self-care worksheet. You can draw one up in just a few minutes, and it’s something you can do each day, adding things you especially need at certain times.
It’s really simple:
Here are some examples of self-care areas, as well as some self-care practices in each area of focus.
Rest and Relaxation
Health and Spirituality
Aside from building a self-care kit or creating a worksheet of your self-care needs, it’s important to create a space in your environment that feels sacred. This space should help you recharge away from others and distractions. Afterall, that’s the overall goal of self-care!
The ideas I presented here can help you unwind and recharge when stress levels are peaking or when you need a boost of inspiration. Get creative, see what you have around your house already, and customize your self-care kit to your needs.
Jessica Fritz is a licensed independent clinical social worker associate at the Division and Mission Care Center. She has spent 10 years as a clinical social worker in a variety of mental health settings, including inpatient, residential, crisis, and outpatient. With a trauma-informed focus, Jessica provides compassionate care in collaboration with the patient.Meet Jessica Fritz, MSW, LICSWA
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