Sometimes I am the one struggling, other times it’s a friend. Sometimes I have to focus on myself, and other times I have some care to give to others. I have a hard time seeing people around me struggle. I know what it feels like to suffer and to feel like you’re fighting it alone. When I was studying abroad in Cusco, Peru – I was struggling a lot with anxiety and depression. My friends at my home university put together a self-care package for me, and I loved it. So when I’m feeling well, I like helping people I care about and passing on what my friends did to me in college- making a self-care package. What to include in the self-care package is often very personal – depending on who you are giving it too. You have to focus on the person you care about it and understand what they need and love. But having a basic guideline and some ideas before creating your first one can help.
(This article includes links to items that if purchased I receive a small portion of the proceeds).
Below are some things that I love putting the self-care packages that I make for loved ones.
The letter is the key for the self-care package in my opinion. I think explaining why you are including specific items is beautiful. You show how you are thinking of this person and how much they mean to you. You can share a memory. Explain why you are including certain things. For example, if you are including a pin that is a badger – explain that you added this because your friend loves badgers or puns and this is a “badger of courage” (I may have received a “badger of courage” from the Blurt Foundation, and I love it). Having a letter to go with the box personalizes it. It helps form more of a connection and sense of support for that person.
I usually include books that I already owned and love. The pages are bent, and the person can tell that I read it multiple times. The book obviously helped me, and I wanted to pass it on. In the letter, I’ll explain what this book meant to me. Sometimes it’s a book directly related to self-care and mental health, other times it’s a fiction book that I think that person will also love.
Here are some of my favorite books to include:
This obviously depends on the person, but most of my friends and myself love candles. I believe smells are not only grounding when you are struggling, but they can also bring a sense of peace and home. The candles I include are usually lavender scent or another smell that reminds me of the person. I have a friend who loves the smell of campfires and pine trees – so I find a cute candle that smells like that and includes it. Every time they burn it they not only have a smell they love, but they are also reminded that they are never alone.
Here are some of my favorite candles:
4. Notes of Inspiration
This is one of my favorites, and it’s something I think everyone can use. Some days are harder than others no matter what. Some days getting out of bed may seem like the most challenging thing in the world. Other days their mind may be consumed with negative thoughts. For those days, when everything seems a bit harder, I include notes of inspiration. I take some colorful scrap paper and write quotes that usually help me. Every time they are having a harder day than usual, they pull out one of these quotes just as a reminder. A reminder that it’s okay to struggle, that you are not alone, that there will be better days ahead or anything else you think that might need. It doesn’t have to be quotes – it can be a memory you have with them, something for them to look forward to, or anything else you think will make them smile and their day a little better.
Staying busy helps. It helps calm the anxious thoughts. It helps get you out of bed. It helps you look forward to something. I personally love puzzle books. I love figuring something out. I love being challenged. I sent my friend an actual puzzle. I knew her, and I knew she loved puzzles but hasn’t done one ina while, so I sent one to her to remind her. Others may love dancing, running, hiking, knitting, drawing – give them something to help remind them of this. Yes, it may very much be hard for them to use it – it’s not like they will get some running socks and all of the sudden “oh yeah I forgot I loved running I’m going to run all the time now” but it’s something.
Favorite activity related items:
6. Something Cozy
When you are struggling with anxiety and depression, there could be nothing that you want more than just staying in and doing nothing. There is nothing wrong with having those days. Those days are necessary. I usually include something cozy for those days. It may be comfy socks, blanket, tea or anything else that will make staying in a little more indulgent.
My favorite cozy items:
Include a photo of you and the person you are sending the package to. Photos of a good memory with people that person loves. Photos allow us to cherish a memory and hold onto it. It allows us to revel in a moment we love. To capture it. To remember it. Having a photo of them to look at and show how you cherish this moment with this person, it means something.
Self-Care packages are not meant to “cure” a person. We build one to help a person feel less alone. We send one to have that person know that we love them and support them.
Follow me on instagram (sylvmarcia) for more inspiration for your mental health journey.