What Is Self-Care? And Why Does It Matter?
In today’s go-go-go society, self-care has taken a backseat. Rather than resting and recovering, we are waking up earlier and going to bed later, trying to pack as much into every single day as possible. Anxiety is on the rise, affecting 18.1% of the adult U.S. population (10 million people) every year, and our responses to and handling of anxiety is not improving.
But what is self-care anyway? Simply stated, it’s tending to the emotional, mental, physical, and/or spiritual health of oneself. It is taking a day off of work when you’re burnt out. I could be skipping on a night out when you are socially drained. It can be a hot bubble bath, a bottle of wine, and your favourite music. Self-care is simply the act of prioritizing your health over the stressors in your life. (For some of the science behind the positive effects of self-care, check out this five-hour-long collection of videos from TEDx dedicated to the topic and its importance.)
Although self-care can be spontaneous, it is more likely to happen when you are intentional about it. Set aside a certain date and time to take good care of yourself, ensuring you have all the necessary tools ready in advance.
It is important to practice self-care before you need it. Although self-care after breakdowns are important, doing them ahead of time can help prevent the negative effects of stress. Try to be proactive with it, not reactive.
The Self-Care Box
Enter the Self-Care Box, your prepared lifesaver in smaller times of need. Sure, it will not solve all of your problems. But it can help put them into perspective and encourage some down-time for your body to rejuvenate itself. This downtime should allow you to better resolve your issues.
A Self-Care Box is super easy and can even be rather fun to make. The idea is to keep it personal to you. A Self-Care Box is simply a collection of items and tools that are beneficial to your physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual health and are available for easy access or use in emergencies.
The Box Itself
The container does not have to be anything special. For example, I just use an empty copy paper box or two. And if you are crafty, you can also decorate your box — making it visually appealing to you, working towards your own aesthetic, will only heighten your attraction toward and appreciation of it.
The Self-Care Box is more than just an easy-access place to stuff things you like. It is a powerful tool; but tools are only beneficial when used. So be sure to refer to it regularly, both in times of need and as a reward.
What to Include
I have generalized and social anxieties, among other things. Sometimes, I get so immersed in my thoughts, I cannot see straight — figuratively and literally. Because of this, my box has numerous practical and functional items. By grounding myself physically, I can get out of my own mind. Some of those items include:
- a bath bomb
- a fidget spinner
- a stress ball
- a foot scrubber
- a restorative face mask or two
- a pack of chewing gum
- a comfortable jacket, a fluffy pillow, a warm blanket, and fuzzy socks
- a stuffed animal I’ve had for ages
- some scented lotions
- a face/skin roller
Other times my issues may be the hyperactivity of my mind. I need not so much to escape it as to slow it down. In those cases, I have focus-related tools in my box too, such as:
- art and journaling tools (notebook, pen, pastels, et cetera)
- a few colouring books (both for adults and children) with coloured pencils
- a few light-reading books
- fun movies that can slow me down
- the aforementioned fidget spinner and stress ball
There is a wide range of other things you can include. For example, if you are moving too fast in your day and not recharging your body, keeping in the Self-Care Box things like tea or power bars can help pick up your energy. If you need inspiration to continue on daunting tasks, have inspirational images or quotes printed out. Small, considerate notes from loved ones are a great addition here too. And of course, ensure you have a box of tissues in there, be they for sad tears or happy ones.
The idea is to include anything that could give you a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual boost, but that you sometimes forget to refer to as a tool. Actively having these things in your Self-Care Box allows for a single, quick look during your day when you need that pick-me-up.
Self-love is a great way to stay or get back on track with your personal goals in life, and a Self-Care Box can help you make time for it. You just have to decide if you are important enough in your own life to prioritize yourself and your health.