We all have those days where we wake up and want to throw the covers back over our head. Facing another overwhelming day seems like just too much. Maybe you shuffle to the kitchen and make a pot of coffee because you didn’t sleep well. You skip breakfast because you overslept and start work in zombie mode. Sound familiar?
If yourself-care needs are not being met, consider creating a Mental Health Toolkit. If you prioritize your self-care, you prioritize your physical and mental health. Many are under stress to do more, be more. It can be challenging to focus on self-care when our basic needs are not being met. Self-care has been overused and seems like an overused term, especially as a marketing tactic. It’s unfortunate because self-care is important.
“Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.” — The World Health Organization 1998
We must take care of our mental health self-care before we can begin to add more fun, pampering self-care to our routine. Mental health self-care helps you prioritize your mental health and fulfill your basic needs. Building your Mental Health Toolkit is a positive place to begin.
Begin collecting the physical items you will need for your mental health toolkit. It might include:
- Medications you take. Keep them in one place, such as a daily pillbox if it helps you remember to take your medications. Many use their phone alarms or a small whiteboard to remind themselves to take their medicine.
- Numbers for emergency hotlines and your support network. These could include a suicide prevention hotline, as an example. You can also include friends and family members you feel comfortable reaching out to when you have a hard day.
- A calendar or planner for writing down upcoming medical appointments, such as psychiatry or therapy. You may want to include other pertinent information, such as when you need to schedule a follow-up appointment or remember to pick up a prescription.
- A notebook or journal to keep track of information, such as dietary notes or mood changes. Some choose to use their journal to write down things they are grateful for.
Often when we feel down, we also feel lonely, especially if you live alone. Having nourishing items in your tool kit can be helpful. Items you may want to include are:
- An item that makes you feel protected or loved such as a favorite blanket, stone, stuffed animal – anything you can hold in your hand. This item should help to create a sense of peace and comfort
- If you have a pet, many studies have shown they are beneficial for those with mental health conditions. Spend time with your pet by snuggling or going for a walk. It’s helpful for both of you!
- Nature is incredibly healing. Consider going for a walk, sit in your backyard or a park, or open your windows and breathe in some fresh air.
- You should keep nourishing food items stocked in your pantry or refrigerator. Foods might include healthy snacks such as trail mix, cereal, applesauce, or tea. Keep some foods around that you can always eat when you aren’t up to going to the store.
- Having good hygiene is essential to your mental health. At a minimum, wash your face at least once a day and brush your teeth twice per day. Try to take a shower or bath at a minimum of once per week. While more frequent showers or baths could be more helpful, try to maintain a minimum level of hygiene.
- Many find support from weighted blankets, heating pads, or electric blankets.
- Keep your phone updated with doctor’s office phone numbers, emergency phone numbers, and the contact information for at least 3 people you can ask for help when needed
- Set alarms for prescription refills or times that you need to take your medications
- Set alarms for therapy appointments
- Set reminders to eat or drink water if you need to
- Consider downloading meditation apps, such as Calm or Headspace
- Create calming playlists for times that you feel sad or anxious
You must take care of your mental health before you can schedule self-care practices such as a spa day. If you don’t have a baseline of care, the fun self-care tactics are just a temporary solution. Creating your toolkit makes the tools you have available to you easily accessible when you need them.
If you need help with a toolkit, or just need to talk, call and schedule an appointment. We’re seeing patients virtually at this time.