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The Hub Lifestyle Support

How to make a self-care kit

If you’re like me, self-care is the first thing to decline when your focus is on the demands of life, work, and loved ones. And, now more than ever, many of those demands have increased as a result of COVID-19.

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.

How to build a self-care kit

To build a self-care toolkit, start by asking yourself the question, “What balances me?”

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.

What I keep in my self-care kit

Below are some examples of what I keep in my self-care kit. You can use these ideas to help you build yours.

Naturally Scented Products

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.”

Consider adding some of these naturally scented products to your self-care toolkit:

  • Essential oils
  • Essential oil diffuser
  • Aromatherapy candles
  • Incense

Bath Products

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.

  • Epsom salts
  • Foaming bath products
  • A lit candle nearby
  • Relaxing music

Comforting Items

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:

  • Soft clothes
  • Weighted blanket
  • Heated blanket
  • Smooth crystals, such as rose quartz to rub on your body

Active Relaxation Items

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:

  • Inspirational books
  • Daily affirmations
  • Adult coloring books
  • Playing with putty
  • Journaling

Tasty Treats

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:

  • Relaxing teas
  • Dark chocolate
  • Healthy comfort foods

Music & Sounds

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:

  • Mindfulness or meditation apps – This is a fun way to retreat for a few minutes and walk away feeling calmer and more in touch with yourself.
  • Your favorite music – When you want to just sing along and have a blast, this is the way to do it.
  • Upbeat music – This is great if you need a burst of happiness and energy.
  • Classical music – This type of music has been shown to enhance mental performance and increase creativity.

Alternative self-care activity

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:

  1. Label the top of the page with “What I Need Today.”
  2. Create four boxes on the rest of the sheet.
  3. Above each box, write four areas of self-care that you feel you need at the moment.
  4. In each box, list out some self-care practices you can engage in based on that area of focus.

Here are some examples of self-care areas, as well as some self-care practices in each area of focus.

Rest and Relaxation

  • Take a bath
  • Watch a movie
  • Take a nap

Expression

  • Write or journal
  • Draw or paint
  • Work in the garden

Health and Spirituality

  • Practice yoga
  • Go for a walk or run
  • Meditate or write in your gratitude journal

Connection

  • Talk with a friend or loved one
  • Play with pet
  • Join an online community

Don’t forget to create sacred space

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.

Feeling mentally isolated?

About Jessica Fritz, MSW, LICSWA
Jessica is a licensed independent clinical social worker associate at Vivacity 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, Jess provides compassionate care in collaboration with the patient.