What to Include in a Self-Care Toolbox

Throughout college, I've gained a broader understanding of how to balance my mental health and my demanding schedule. One of the most important parts of that was creating a self-care toolkit. It has been so crucial to have a small box of things under my bed that I know will help me feel more comfortable during hard times.


If you are someone who experiences panic attacks, creating a toolkit may help ease some of your symptoms. For those who suffer from depression, my toolkit has been perfect for those Saturday mornings when I find it challenging to get out of bed.


Here’s what I try to keep in my box:


1. Something New

Retail therapy really does help some people. Having something "new" to look forward to can really improve your mood. The downside: buying something new every time you feel down can get really expensive. I've gotten around this by buying smaller things for myself, and have one in my box at all times. You can also buy a multipack and "gift" yourself one thing every time you use your box. I did that with these super cute socks, and it was really affordable and they helped me feel better and warmer. Another option is to keep something you need, but don't want to spend extra money on in your box. Buying underwear is never a fun expense, but spending money on something new can improve your mood. This might be a good time to buy a new pencil case.




2. Tea or Hot Chocolate

Warm beverages are comforting. They also have a long shelf life. Keeping a few packets of your favorite tea or hot chocolate serves a dual purpose. For one, it reminds you to brew a cup of tea to comfort you. Taking care of yourself can seem really hard when you're in a low place. Second, it takes some of the decision making out since you've already put in your favorite drink. I also include a mug in my box, so that even if dishes are dirty you have something to make your warm beverage in. (bonus points if your mug is cute or has a motivational quote on it).


3. A Book, Magazine, or Movie

If you're stuck in bed, you might as well enjoy it. I always keep a copy of a book that I know will get me out of a funk. For me, that's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. For some, it's a Bible. Still others, a magazine. This part of your box could even be on your computer. I keep a collection of movies downloaded to my laptop, so that even when I'm offline I can still swoon over Audrey Hepburn.


4. Snacks

Again, one of the hardest parts of depression is taking care of yourself. Find some time resistant foods and keep them packed away for bad days. Think both of things that will nurture your body and things that will make you happy. This can be nuts, dried fruit, jerky, pretzels, popcorn, chocolate bars, gummy worms. The possibilities are endless. You might also consider keeping a few pantry-safe microwavable meals in case you lose a whole day to the depressive episode. Another option is microwavable soup that you can cook in your mug!


5. Bath and Hygiene Items

Overwhelmingly, people with depression suffer to keep up with hygiene. Even when you're having a bad time, it's important to try to maintain yourself. Believe it or not, it actually helps.  Consider keeping a few fancy bath items in your box to inspire you to want to use them. I'm a big fan of any LUSH product. Their bath bombs are incredible, and actually make me want a bath no matter what is going on in my life. I also keep nail polish, and chapstick in the box to make me feel my best.



6. Art Supplies

This helps some people, but not everyone. For me, I find it really beneficial to write down my feelings in a journal. I also like to practice my calligraphy. My best friend likes to draw, or knit. Having something to do with your hands will help relax your find. Crafting especially helps since it is something tangible that you have control over. You can keep whatever you produce. Plus, it eats up some time on a bad day.


Remember you aren't alone when going through your bad days. You have friends, family, maybe even pets. When equipping yourself with your favorite things, remember your loved ones are there for you too.