How to Create a Self-Care Kit


This post is adapted from a section in my upcoming book and course on self-care. I wanted to share it today because it highlights one of the most important misconceptions about self-care: the idea that we need to spend lots of money to do self-care 'properly'. At its root, self-care isn't so much about what you do, as what needs you're meeting in the process. An important part of developing a sustainable self-care routine is identifying ways in which we can meet one or more of our needs without compromising other needs in the process. The self-care kit is designed to help you do just that.Self-care is not about taking yourself out for manicures, Columbian waxes or whatever the latest fashion trend is at the time of reading. It’s about meeting your needs. If you’re on a budget or short of time, purchasing expensive pampering sessions or taking several hours you don’t have out of your day isn’t not going to meet your needs - in fact, it will probably stress you out even more.Having said that, there’s a reason why plenty of people opt for professional treatments and attention, over and above a purely aesthetic motive: showing your body some TLC feels good. It is certainly one form of self-care, it’s just that we need to find a way to treat our bodies well without compromising any other needs we have that are jostling for attention alongside.Self-care isn’t so much about what we ‘do’, it’s about the experience we have, the feelings that experience provokes and the underlying needs that experience meets.So we might not be able to go to a fancy-schmancy spa (without leaving one or more of our other needs wanting, anyway) but we can certainly try to recreate the feeling of going to a fancy-schmancy spa.One way to do this is to create a ‘self-care kit’.

How it Works

The self-care kit is a collection of items that provoke your desired feelings.This is a very personal experience, so I’m not going to provide a prescriptive list for what should go in your self-care kit.Instead, the first step is to work out what your desired feelings are: what is it you would like to feel or experience after using your self-care kit?This might include feeling:SafeNurturedHeldWarmRelaxedRejuvenatedReplenishedWholeConnectedCompassionateSelf-acceptingUnderstandingRestedOr any other words that are meaningful to you.The next step is to translate these feelings into actions. What can you do that will help you get to these feelings and experiences?Here are a few suggestions to get you started:MeditateGentle yogaFace maskLong, hot bathIncenseQuotes or affirmationsSpecial musicA good bookA scented candleYour own personal self-care kit might contain all of the above, or it might contain none. Like I said, this is a personal experience, so spend time thinking about how you can re-create your desired feelings with simple every-day items and activities.Once you have a few ideas about the kinds of things you might want in your self-care kit, start compiling it. Begin simply, and test each individual item out for its effectiveness before adding the next. Sometimes, we think a certain item or activity is going to provoke certain feelings, but it doesn’t. We might expect it to be relaxing and enjoyable, whereas in reality we find it uncomfortable and distracting. Equally, we might experience one activity or item in our kits very differently to how we imagined.There’s no rush: start small and build your kit over a period of several weeks or months. Schedule time to use your self-care kit, and commit to that scheduled time. Whether it’s 15 minutes when you first get up, or you set aside a whole evening, dedicate time. Listen to how your self-care kit leaves you feeling, and listen to what your gut tells you to add or remove in order to enhance it and make it more effective at meeting your needs.

Why it Works

The self-care kit is tailored specifically to you and executed on your terms. You’re in complete control over how much time and money you spend on your experience, as well as when you choose to use your kit.This allows you to experience your desired feelings, set aside time to reconnect with yourself and give your body some TLC, without denying or ignoring other needs you might have, for example a need for financial stability.

Other Ideas

If you’re concerned that engaging with this suggestion might provoke your money gremlins and inner critic, keep them at bay by setting some boundaries. This might take the form of a monthly ‘self-care’ budget, a limit on the number of items you have in your kit, a limit for how much to spend on each item in your self-care kit, or all of the above (on a practical note: remember that some items might cost more, but will last longer than other items that cost less). Be as generous as you can be with your budget - remember there’s nothing wrong with spending money on yourself - while still keeping your other needs in mind.What would be in your self-care kit? Leave a comment and let me know.


Photo Credit: JD Hancock via Compfight cc