Do you have a Self Care Toolkit? A one-stop shop for all of your physical and mental health maintenance needs? For most of us, that answer is a resounding “No.” And even for those of us who do, our toolkits could still use a bit of tuning up.
As anyone who’s ever struggled with their emotions, or having a body, can tell you, staying well is at times a hard thing to do. And not just like, “eating only one Double Stuf Oreo” hard. Like, seriously exhausting, overwhelming, and uphill-both-ways hard.
Now if that doesn’t sound like something worth trying to make a little bit easier, then I don’t know what is. And that is what we’re here to do today: to work Smarter when it comes to our wellbeing. We want to make taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional health a little bit easier. And that’s where the Self Care Toolkit comes in.
So let’s get right to it. I’m going to walk you through what exactly a Self Care Toolkit is, and why you absolutely need to start working on one (if you haven’t already).
Why You Need a Self Care Toolkit
Sometimes life gets hard. Other times, life gets harder. I’m told that there are also times where it’s not too bad at all. But there’s always something weighing on us, at least a little. And on some level, we kind of need that to be the case. Without struggle, what are we? Where is our purpose?
Life feels better when we have goals to accomplish and problems to solve, but here’s the catch: we still need maintenance. Doing awesome things takes its toll on us. And if we want to stay on track with our goals and solve those problems, we need to slow down from time to time. We need to give our bodies and minds the fuel and repairs they need to keep running smoothly.
That’s all that self care is. Fuel and maintenance for the mind and body. It’s a need that we all share. It can come in many forms, all of which serve your overall wellbeing. But this open-endedness leads to a few issues, namely:
- Causes – Many different things drive the need for self care, some of which are unavoidable parts of everyday life; we can’t prevent or prepare for them all individually
- Solutions – Not every issue can be resolved with the same solution; sometimes even the same problem on two different days can call for different answers
- Energy – It’s hard to figure out what you need at the moment when you need it; decision making takes energy, and energy comes at a premium when you are most in need of self care
The good news? We can make all of these things easier with just one solution: a Self Care Toolkit. A Self Care Toolkit brings all of your tools together to meet your self-care needs, all in one convenient and accessible place.
How It Works
Put yourself in your own shoes for a moment. Already in ‘em? Great. Alright, now take your shoes off, stay a while, and imagine some of the moments in your life when you might look for self care.
There may be moments where life feels totally overwhelming. Or when you just need a boost at the end of a tough day. Things don’t have to be bad at all. Self care is a great way to get your day off on the right foot, or to reward and refresh yourself after a big week.
When these moments come, where do you go, what do you do? It’s a little hard to say, isn’t it? It’s tough to predict right now what you’re going to need next Friday after a full week of terrible meetings, or two weeks from now on a day you’re looking for a slow, easy morning.
But we do know two things:
- We know that moments like these WILL come, and
- We know most of the things that usually help with these sorts of moments
And this is where your Self Care Toolkit comes in. It takes what you know, and keeps it ready for what you don’t know. When the moment comes that you’re looking for a boost, you can go to your handy and yes, also dandy toolkit. It is the central hub for all of your self care needs.
So next time you’re looking for a boost, you know exactly where to go. And when you open up your toolkit, you’ll have all of your options right at hand.
Building Your Self Care Toolkit
So you’re ready to start taking better care of yourself and finally start living a more energized life, but where to start? Well, a Self Care Toolkit starts just like any other toolkit – with the toolbox itself, of course!
The toolbox is a simple container that you can store easily and always find when you need it.
I use an empty box from a 12-pack of ramen, because I am a very – and I do feel the need to reiterate here, very – fancy person. But you can use anything you like – a shoebox, a backpack (for self care on the go), even an easter basket would do the trick if you’re into that kind of thing.
You can also customize your toolbox if you like. You can draw on it, attach things to it, add some sweet stickers, decorate and spruce it up however you do. Anything you can do that sends signals to your brain that say “this is a good box. It makes me happy,” is a welcome addition.
What Goes Inside?
Once you have your toolbox, you can start filling it up with your self care tools themselves. What exactly those tools are will vary from one person to the next. But try to think of anything that helps you through stress, difficult choices, or that just generally lifts you up.
Here are some ideas to get started:
- A calming object like a fidget spinner/cube or a stress ball
- A small toy or trinket, something simple tied to a happy memory
- Notecards with motivational quotes, mantras, affirmations, or other uplifting words
- A journal for navigating what’s going on in that beautiful head of yours
- Candles, incense, sprays, or anything with a smell that lifts you up
- Helpful notes or messages from loved ones
- “Links” – reminders of your self care tools that don’t quite fit in the box, like exercise, meditation, a favorite TV show, a walk outside, a relaxing playlist, a TED talk
- “Links” to outside help when you need it – contact info for your therapist, doctors, trusted friends or family who can offer you support
There are no right or wrong answers for what goes into a Self Care Toolkit. Except for things that totally stress you out. That’s the wrong answer, Cheryl, come on.
As long as you’re giving a home base to all the things that lift you up and keep you going, you can’t go wrong. And of course, it’s an ongoing thing; you can always continue customizing and adding to your kit as time goes on.