This time of year is often the most hectic time. Add in the pandemic and it can seem particularly stressful this year. While a self-care toolbox is great for any time, now more than ever every Mom, and even every woman, should have her very own self-care toolbox. While you can certainly buy subscription boxes and boxes that are being promoted as self-care boxes, you can also make your own. Creating your own self-care box can often be better economically, and it can be personalized to your specific needs. 

What is a Self-Care Toolbox?

A self-care toolbox is a set of predetermined tools and items you can used when you aren’t feeling your best emotionally or mentally and/or when you don’t feel you are coping well. You can also use it to engage in self-care on a more regular basis. When self-care toolboxes are created, each person’s box can look different as well as have unique items in them, depending on each person’s individual coping needs. 

Why Have a Self-Care Toolbox?

I don’t know about you but most Moms I know are super organized. They keep a schedule like no other person on the planet. Schedules are color-coded, and they know where everyone is or should be at every moment. Nearly EVERYTHING is on that schedule except one thing, THEM! Moms give so much to their family and often neglect to pencil themselves in on the schedule. Having a self-care toolbox can help you be more intentional about taking some much-needed time for yourself. In doing so you will allow yourself time and space to reconnect with yourself (and others), to refuel and to feel refreshed. As we all know, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to first take care of yourself before you can effectively take care of others. So, don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Instead, reframe how you look at self-care, as time for you to take care of you so you can better, more effectively take care of your family. 

Benefits of a Self-Care Toolbox

The greatest benefit of a self-care toolbox, in my opinion, is that it allows you to remember to reconnect, refuel and refresh. The fact that your family will reap the benefits of this is an added bonus. Self-care toolboxes are also beneficial as they help you: 

  • Intentionally and regularly engage in self-care 
  • Identify and utilize coping skills when you need them during stressful or difficult times
  • Remember to slow down and take care of yourself, just as you would your family

Creating Your Self-Care Toolbox

As mentioned above and as was discussed and demonstrated at last month’s Her Parenting Place monthly virtual discussion, you can make your own self-care toolbox. It is both fun and easy. 

First, you will need a nice-sized box that can accommodate all you need to put in it. Recycling a medium box from a subscription service or a shoe box will work. You may use a larger box if desired. 

Second, find craft paper or pretty wrapping paper to cover the box. If you’re particularly creative, you may also add other artistic designs to decorate the outside of the box. Get as artsy and have as much fun with this as you like. The more you make it your own, the more you will want to use it. 

Third, and this part will take a little bit of thought before moving on to the fourth step, think about some things you like to do that give you a sense of peace and calm or that help you manage stressors. If you’re not aware of these, identify things that you feel may work. Think of how long it will take to do the different things you plan to put in your box. Some things will take longer than others. Be sure to have items for varying times to engage in for when you only have a few minutes or when you have hours. 

Fourth, find or buy items to add to your box. Before buying anything, look around the house to see what you already have. If anything is missing that you need or want in the box, purchase it. No need to break the bank creating your box. You can always build your toolbox slowly over time as needed. 

Fifth, find a place to store your box that is easily accessible and where you will see it and be reminded to use it often. I keep my self-care toolbox in my room near my bed or in my loft, an area I frequent that is my happy place.  

Ideas for What Goes Inside

My recommendation is that your toolbox includes a variety of different things as you never know what you will need in the moment. Things you put in your box can be things you eat, things you smell, things that promote writing, drawing, coloring or creativity, and even notes to prompt you to do something during your self-care time. Here are some ideas for things to put in your self-care box but the possibilities are endless:

  • A list of things to remind yourself to do like yoga, meditation, take a nap or go for a mindful walk, etc. 
  • Healthy snacks and, yes, dark (not milk) chocolate counts as it’s good for brain health, improving cognitive functioning. 
  • Water to help you stay hydrated as you refuel yourself and give your brain and body something it needs.
  • Books to read, coloring books or journals, and don’t forget pens and colored pencils. Engaging in any of these can allow you to escape stress for a while as you mindfully engage in something that brings you joy.
  • A candle or some essential oil roller bottles to ignite calming scents. 
  • A gratitude jar or gratitude journal to help remind you of the good that has happened during difficult times. 
  • If you have a larger self-care box you can put a weighted blanket inside. It can help you feel grounded, safe and less anxious in stressful times. 

How to Use a Self-Care Toolbox?

The more you use it, the more you benefit from it. No matter how much time you have, try to engage in self-care daily. When time is scarcer, select some of those self-care options you can engage in for only minutes. Engage in these shorter activities daily, and you can do them between or when you take breaks from other duties. When you have a little more time, 30 minutes to an hour, engage in these activities weekly or even as much as 3 times per week. And when you have more time and a self-care activity will take longer than an hour, try doing these once a month. 

You are just as important as everyone in your family so be sure to make time for yourself and to pencil you in on the schedule, too. Join me for Her Parenting Place to continue to build on the concept of self- care as it relates to managing holiday stress. PLEASE NOTE the new day and time, every 4th Tuesday at 7:30 pm CT, and you are welcome to participate with our 30-Day Guest Pass. Make some hot cocoa, bring your pen, paper and questions, and be ready to have a great time with other Moms. I’ll see you then!

The Future of Connection for Women

Dr. Catherine Jackson
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