As we enter a new phase in the Covid-19 pandemic, times ahead are uncertain for almost all of us which can be distressing and anxiety inducing, and as the warm summer months escape just as fast as they arrived, we are all having trouble knowing what to do, what we can do and what we should do. But amidst all the chaos and the nervousness about what comes next, there is one thing that should always remain a priority, especially now more than ever: self-care.
Whether we enter a new period of lockdown or partial lockdown, the effect this massive change can have on our mental health has the potential to last so it is vital to create environments for ourselves that we can continue to thrive in. There can be more harm done by hiding away and admitting defeat, so we all need to start thinking about how we can make the most out of this time, how we can keep a routine and how we can uplift and inspire others with our positivity.
There are a million ways to do this, and not everyone will have the same method of self-care, but if what you do works for you, it is increasingly essential that you keep it up and perhaps share your positive experience with those around you. I’m sharing my self-care kit with you today. Something that helps with energising when it calls for it and relaxation when it is needed, keeping creative juices flowing and using mindfulness as a tool to get through these tough months.
My own self-care kit isn’t necessarily a physical box of products, but more a routine with organisation and key items that I always keep stocked up, but you can do this however suits you whether that’s a fully decorated box of your go to products, or even a handy reminder list complete with mantras pinned to your wall. The point is self-care, so always do what is right for you.
Having the natural desire to get up and go each day is something I can only dream of for the most part. I do love summer though, and seeing the sun shining outside is a natural energy booster for me, but as the winter nights draw in, the distinct lack of Vitamin D is enough to make me crawl into bed early and leave it a lot later the next day, especially during a long bout of working from home.
Our bodies crave an energy boost but can equally submit to lethargy if left without the desire to get up, get dressed and make an impact on the day. So, this is why in my self-care kit, I include the following:
Green Tea – Long ago, coffee was the daily go to energy boost of choice, but I felt it wasn’t doing me any favours. My skin felt dry, I started to wonder if I was ever really awake, I was constantly thinking about my next coffee even when I was still sipping my current cup and I spent a fortune visiting a certain coffee chain just to get my fix.
So, I made the switch to green tea. But I didn’t like it. Probably something to do with years of opposing tea in every form and wanting to stay loyal to my precious cup of the dark stuff. But even with all the recommendations and advice that it was going to be good for me, I still didn’t like it. But, I discovered adding a small spoon of honey or a peppermint leaf completely transformed this cup of tea into something I could stick with and now I fully appreciate this stuff.
I get my caffeine fix, but not in a jittery anxiety ridden way, I feel cleansed in an internal way that you can’t really describe – yes, I understand this is the point of drinking green tea with all of its antioxidant properties – and I realised that sometimes you just need a hot drink in the morning, coffee or not, this stuff really gives you an energy boost that lasts so you don’t crave cup after cup all day. As far as my self-care kit is concerned, green tea will be here to stay.
Berries and Nuts – Self-care is not about making yourself miserable by putting yourself on difficult diets and restricting all the fun things in life, but it is about making sure that you are healthy and have the energy to perform all the tasks expected of you. In my eyes there is nothing wrong with a treat, and I always keep a sneaky bar of chocolate in my cupboard for my own well-being, or at least that’s what I tell myself.
But I realised the importance of giving my body foods and nutrition that provide energy and don’t make me feel like I’ve added a few extra numbers to those scales while slumped on the sofa unable to move or be productive. Berries and nuts are known energy boosters and are included in my self-care routine. Packed to high heaven with nutrients and fatty acids, the benefit of eating them lasts so much longer than a quick fix of something tasty but naughty that you may end up regretting later.
Slow-releasing energy is the key to keeping up with the day and not feeling fatigued by the time the afternoon rolls around, so I always make up a couple of little pots to carry around with me each day, even if that is just to my new home office/sofa. If I’m feeling in need of a bit of change, pumpkin seeds are swapped in for some variety. I’m a habitual snacker, so even if I reach into my pot every 10 seconds I don’t need to worry about the guilt later. Self-care and energy go hand in hand, and that’s why these foods are always in my kit.
Running Shoes – How many times have you wanted to join a gym, created a schedule that you have promised yourself you will stick to and bought new work out gear, ready to start your new fitness regime that will guarantee you six pack abs and a super firm butt, only to drop out of your promised gym sessions while still paying a monthly fee and watch your new work out gear quietly judging you from the hangers. If you have no idea what I’m talking about and your fitness routine never falters, then I salute you!
The gym is one of my favourite places, but I cannot stick it out long-term. Something always gets in the way – a minor injury, overtime for work or just the mentally draining thought of working out when you really don’t have the energy. Unfortunately, we’re in a time where gyms may not be open or fully available to everyone, so it is the perfect excuse for people like me to use as to why I’m not staying active.
This is why I put my running shoes in my self-care kit. In fact, they stay in my kitchen where they are fully visible every time I go to grab a naughty snack. The guilt alone is enough to put them on and get exercising. So many people love the open road as opposed to the treadmill, I much prefer the quiet corner of my gym where I can change my speed settings when it gets too much and hide in the changing rooms when I get covered in sweat and can’t catch my breath. But now the only option is to take to the outdoors, it makes so much sense to expend some energy to gain more energy back.
I don’t even run every day, sometimes it’s just a fast-paced walk and a brief jog back to the house, but the fresh air in my lungs, a change of scenery and the knowledge that I’m doing my body the world of good spurs me on, rain or shine. Any form of exercise is a good energy driver, so for my own self-care it is really important to keep this up every day.
Switching off can be equally as important, if not more, as feeling energised and ready to go at the day, so when you think of your own self-care kits I would say here is where you really want to reward yourself and be as specific as you can with products and routines that really work for you. I find that relaxation resets the body and the mind, and I make time for it in a different way each day, even if it’s just 30 minutes out of a busy day.
A Good Book – There is nothing better than an enthralling read in my eyes. Escaping the world for a few minutes or hours at a time by diving into a good book is one of my favourite things to do in my downtime.
There are so many negative distractions in the world, especially now. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing some bad news so it’s really important now to find other distractions that don’t involve only seeing the things you don’t want or need to be reminded of constantly. So, switching off by putting down your phone, casting your laptop aside for a few hours and losing yourself in a book is one of the ultimate ways to relax and should become part of any self-care kit, especially during lockdown.
Reading, especially when other alternative methods of self-care become unavailable, is so important right now for our own mental health and sanity. Being confined to four walls for any period of time doesn’t only mean that physically we aren’t stretching ourselves, but mentally we aren’t giving our brains room to grow. This isn’t to say there is a wrong and right with what books you choose to read, just as long as it is stimulating you while your body gets to relax and unwind.
From a historical novel, crime fiction to interesting biographies, expanding our world beyond our four walls is one of the best things you can do for self-care, so get book shopping.
A Pamper Kit – For the ultimate relaxation experience, this one is a must for me. And it is so easy to put one together for yourself. People can spend a whole load of money on their own pamper kits, buying generic ones from stores and generally having a few products in them that they will never use. Think of when you get a box of chocolates and there’s always five or six of one type left at the bottom of the box as you don’t eat that flavour.
This is why I like to make my own and even if it means spending a few pennies, I know I will always squeeze every last drop out of the products in there. It started out as an old shoe box that contained a few items I had collected from Christmas gifts, but then it started to grow and grow and is now a cute medium sized wicker basket that fits perfectly on my shelf next to the bath. With products ranging from sparkly bath bombs that smell of candy floss and fruit berries in summer or warm apple cinnamon in the winter, the ever-important face mask – I love a clay mask and team this up with a soak in the tub and my book while it sets, an oil hair treatment that I use once a week, not only to keep my hair in great condition but in the interests of self-care, and various facial moisturisers, toners and cleansers. I also include a good manicure kit, eyelash and eyebrow serums, lip moisturisers and plenty of clean cotton cloths and a big fluffy towel and robe for relaxing after the pamper session.
Think of the pamper kit as the sort of thing you pull out when the big guns are called for. Not just an everyday use thing, but something you look forward to and can set your time aside to use. When you are uncertain of the future or this crisis is causing stress, giving yourself a little time to treat your body is important, again to switch off and enjoy an hour or two to yourself. When you end up not only feeling good but looking great too, it’s an added bonus.
So, that’s part on of my lockdown self-care kit, stay tuned for part two where I think about creativity and mindfulness and how these can be incorporated into a self-care kit.