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How to Make a Self-Care Box

One of the main coping mechanisms that I recommend people try is creating a self-care box. In times of crisis, stress or any sort of overwhelming emotion, it can be hard to figure out what to do. Having a ready made box for these circumstances can be really beneficial and then it's as simple as pulling it out.

Step #1 - Find your Box

Find a box you want to use. This could even be a shoebox, or perhaps it's not even a box at all but a small tote, basket or bag. (This can also be done last if you are unsure how much space you feel need.)

Optional: Decorate your box to your liking.

The next steps will include some ideas of different things to include, but keep in mind that this is your box and at the end of the day, it's about what helps you. You can skip any or all of my suggestions and just go with your own!

Step #2 - Include Things for Crisis

I'm going to include some ideas of things for crisis here or just generally feeling emotionally overwhelmed or perhaps in need of reassurance.

  • A list of grounding exercises that work for you. (I always recommend this because in times of crisis, it can be hard to remember the things that help calm us, and having a pre-done list you can follow can be really helpful.)

  • Breathing technique cards or other calming technique cards (These are cards you buy/make that give you instructions to follow).

  • A list of numbers/people you can contact if you need to.

  • Letters from people you care about, or cards they've sent that remind you that you're cared about. (You could even print off screenshots if that works for you.)

  • Photographs of your loved ones

  • A copy of your crisis plan

  • Tissues (crying is totally okay, and maybe this will help serve as a reminder that it's okay to cry while also being practical).

  • Bottled water

  • Self-care check list (you can make your own, but it's basically a list of things that you want to make sure you do to take care of yourself. For example, you might include: eating something, stretching, going outside for 5 minutes, etc)

  • A list of your favourite things to remind yourself of the good.

Step #3 - Include Nurturing Items

These are things that you can use to just look after/comfort yourself in general.

  • Tea/Hot chocolate/etc

  • Some favourite snacks that don't need a fridge like chocolate, candies, etc.

  • Body lotions

  • Bubble bath/bath bombs

  • Cute stickers

  • Positive affirmations

  • A comfort item like a small stuffed animal

  • Soft/fuzzy socks or slippers

  • Lip balm

Step #4 - Include Distraction Items

These are things you can use to distract yourself from whatever bad thoughts or feelings you're experiencing. While people may say that distracting yourself from your problems and emotions isn't a good idea, sometimes it's necessary. We can't always be in a place to deal with whatever we're experiencing and it's really valid if how you need to cope is by distracting yourself.

  • Activity books like word searches, crosswords, etc

  • Colouring books (and colouring items like pencil crayons/markers/etc)

  • A favourite book to read

  • Puzzles

  • Favourite movies

Step #5 - Include Grounding Items

These are things you can use to help ground yourself. I try and acknowledge as many senses as I can.

  • Stim toys (fidget spinners, stress balls, tangles, etc)

  • Scented things like essential oils

  • Favourite music. (CD's aren't super common anymore, but this could even be a note to remind yourself to play your favourite playlist/song on your electronic device.)

  • A recording a loved one has sent you

  • Sour candies or spicy snacks

Step #6 - Completion!

If you complete a self-care box, you deserve to stop and admire what you've done. You can think of any other items you might enjoy having in there. Making a self-care box doesn't have to be expensive! You can make most of your own things or even get a lot of things at a dollar store.

At the end of the day, this box is for you and should be personalized to your needs and wants.

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