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What's in your #Self-Care Box?

Whether you choose something as formal as a Plan, or as informal as a Box of random ideas, it's the responsible course of action to take when you suffer with Depression or other form of mental ill-health.

Why? Two main reasons.

The first reason is you're an individual. We're not just different when our mental health is good, we're also different when our mental health is bad. What works for me may not work for you.

The second reason - not everyone knows or understands about Depression or mental ill-health. So, this is one way for them to learn, not just about the subject matter, but your experience of it, and what you need to do to stay as well as possible.

Personally, I have both a Plan and a Box.

My Plan

The Plan part of my #SelfCare is simple.

1. I take my medication daily at a set time (when I wake up), so that it doesn't get forgotten.

2. I make sure I renew and collect my prescription in good time by setting reminders on my phone. I reset these for the following month immediately - I don't leave the resetting of reminders any later, for it's in danger of being forgotten. I also build in extra time when setting reminders so I'm never in danger of running out.

If my mental health issues were to become more serious, there are other options I'd add. Such as noting - in written form - my preferred options for treatment, and the contact details of my trusted mental health professional(s). I would also nominate a mental health advocate. You may wish to consider these and what else you might add.

My Box

My box contains reminders of positive and helpful mindsets, as well as methods to stimulate the senses. For this post, I've focused on the senses of sight, sound and touch (smell and taste having been covered here). The main purpose being to have a collection of random ideas on how to generate feelings of happiness, or safety, or being cherished - whatever feeling you need at that moment to support your mental health. Here's some of what's in my box - and why.

Treasured Memories

A directory on my phone contains multiple pictures and videos of my three year old granddaughter - for I know somewhere in the collection will be something to make me smile, to laugh, or simply fill me up with love.

Compliments (or a bit of #SelfLove)

When I first lived alone, I collected nice things which people had said to me or about me in a pretty hardback notebook - some corny, some sincere, some flattering, and some downright suggestive - but again, somewhere in the collection was something to spark the feeling I needed - be that confidence, composure or resilience.


As most of us have transferred our music collections online, playlists are now commonplace. So what about a #self-care playlist, or more than one? I recent heard that a family friend had died. As the news was expected, I wasn't seeking distraction, more to allow myself a few moments of sad reflection - so I sat quietly and listened to some cello from YoYo Ma, and some piano from Ryuichi Sakamoto - both gentle and beautiful. On other occasions I've turned to the power and emotion of opera, allowing tears to flow for the release that brings. The key part, of course, is that I'd previously curated my music into a broad range of playlists, covering possible scenarios by the emotion I may need to evoke.


While I don't have a regular Gratitude Practice, I do work hard to maintain a positive mindset. I find the most useful method to be Reframing. For me, this starts with acceptance that whatever I'm dealing with may be challenging but has to be accepted, before actively seeking ways to reframe the scenario in a positive manner. Let me give you an example - early this year, I needed to have surgery on my knee. I drew up a "to-do after surgery" list to help me reframe - or look beyond - the somewhat daunting recovery period. Then COVID-19 struck, and we went straight into lock-down - so that lengthy "to-do" list became impossible. As depression was threatening to hit, I decided to reframe the lock-down period to view it as an ideal opportunity to focus on recovery and returned mobility without feeling guilty at time going by without my making significant progress on all my to-do lists. I'm aware that an important aspect of reframing for me, is I also express it to another person - either out loud or in writing.

Positive Affirmations

Despite being a tad sniffy about the idea of Positive Affirmations, I've had to have a re-think. When attending a Vision Board workshop last year, I noticed I was drawn to words - positive statements, calls to action, reinforcements - even more than to images - and quickly realised my previous error. Now I accept that I'll probably never be entirely comfortable with saying positive affirmations out loud, but I do like seeing them - on my Vision Board, stuck to my pin board, in my diary, tucked into books etc. I now cut these out and have a collection which I review from time-to-time to update the message I'm giving myself.

Comfort Reading or Watching

I'm a serious bookworm and my normal taste in reading is literary fiction - Booker prize winners being a prime example. But when I'm not at my best, or when I'm needing some nurturing, I turn to something lighter - chick lit, tales of derring-do, a cozy mystery - something more soothing for the soul. When comfort reading, I like to snuggle up under a soft blanket and to wear an old cardigan of my father's. The blanket and cardigan combo are also in place when I comfort watch - for me that's an old Hollywood musical, Anne of Green Gables, or Dawson's Creek (cheesy I know!)

Pay It Forward

A favourite suggestion of mine is to "pay it forward" with an act of kindness to someone in need of one. When you do it with a good heart and the purest of intentions, I cannot tell you how much it helps - both you and them. It's never failed to give me an emotional uplift. If you're interested in the science behind this, have a read of this.


Speaking of paying it forward, when I was going through treatment for breast cancer many years ago, a friend asked what he could do. "Make me laugh" I said, and oh how he delivered. I do hope he realises how much I appreciated what he did. For friends - and there don't have to be many of them - are treasures. They know how to make you laugh, how to make you feel cared for, how to face the world. You can't put your friends into an actual box, but make sure you remember to put them in your virtual box.

Because - as you can probably tell - I don't have an actual box (although I do like the idea of something pretty in which to store my #self-care ideas). Mine are mostly on my phone, for a boring old list works well for me.

Whether you have a Box or a Plan (or both) the important thing is that you use it and that it works.

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