When you struggle with depression, anxiety and panic attacks leaving the house can feel like standing before a firing squad.
For months, I struggled to leave the house. My depression held me within the four walls of my bedroom and every so often, I would venture into the garden for some fresh air. It was awful and the longer I stayed there, the worse it became.
I’m not going to tell you that you need to force yourself to get out into the world, that’s bullshit advice from people who don’t understand. Some days you literally cannot and that’s okay, you should never be made to feel bad about yourself. You’re going through something that people don’t always understand and you know your own limits (but you should at least get some fresh air everyday. Sit by an open window or in your garden). However, on the days where you feel stronger, I have a solution for leaving the house without being crippled with panic.
So, what is a self care kit?
A self care kit is a collection of items that make you feel more comfortable, relaxed and help ease your worries. I literally carry my self care kit everywhere. To work, to family events, to weddings and even when I’m walking into town. I live and breathe my self care kit and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that without my self care kit I would still be stuck in my house.
What should I have in my self-care kit?
Your self care kit is personal to you and only you will truly know what products and activities make you feel more comfortable. Finding what works for your self care kit is a lot of trial and error but It’s all a part of the experience.
Take some time to brainstorm things that make you feel better. Maybe you like to journal? Keep a pocket-sized journal in your self care kit so that whenever you are feeling overwhelmed you can get it all out. Maybe having something to fiddle with helps you relax and feel more grounded? Keep a small, stress ball in your self care kit. Allow a few days to brainstorm activities (some will come to you when you least expect it so remember to make a note) and start small. Don’t push yourself to catch the bus into town. Go for a 5 minute walk everyday with your self care kit and when you start to feel overwhelmed, use your kit to feel more at ease.
Over time this will gradually increase, I promise.
My self care kit essentials
Putting together my self care kit took a long time and if I’m honest, I am constantly adding new things to it and replacing old ones. As you get more comfortable and begin to do more, your kit will swap and change.
With that being said, here are my never changing, self care kit essentials.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m out and about everything feels too loud. After 3 years, I still have to avoid crowds and yes, I do leave parties early (so what?!) but I’m okay with that. Eventually I want to be able to walk down the isle at my wedding without feeling like I need to fill my ears with Imagine dragons (btw, if you haven’t heard their music, check it out) but for now, I’m happy.
So, to combat the ‘too loud’ situations I find myself in, I am always wearing headphones. I have a 20 minute walk to work on a morning and yes, if I’m not on my bike, I’m listening to music or a good audiobook.
I only just started listening to audiobooks when I signed up to audible. I was always a die hard paperback fan but audiobooks are a whole new world. Whether you like fiction, self help books or a hot steamy romance, I recommend singing up to audible and making it a part of your self care kit.
I know essential oils won’t be for everyone, I never thought they would be for me but hey ho. If you ever meet me, I will be in the corner applying lavender oil to my wrists and peppermint oil to my temple.
A girl gotta do what a girl gotta do.
Like with audible and music, essential oils are a distraction. When everything feels chaotic and too much, applying essential oils can help you feel grounded. Plus you smell like flowers!
Journal/ Notebook and pen
I don’t know where I would be without my journal, it honestly keeps me sane. Without it, my mental wellness would have plummeted instead of gradually getting better.
I have always been a stationary addict but I never put any of it to use. I would buy wacky pens and pretty notebooks that would sit collecting dust for months at a time. Now, I actually use them.
I use my journal to practice gratitude, plan my days and keep track of my thoughts and feelings. Whenever I’m out and about, I take my journal out to either write or read the last few pages. It always makes me feel better and see the progress I’m making.
If you want to start journalling but stuck on where to start, check out these wonderful journals that include daily writing prompts.
A family friend introduced me to Bach Rescue Remedy after struggling with her own mental health. I’d never heard of Rescue Remedy before but fast-forward 3 years and I have 5 bottles in all my different bags.
Rescue remedy is a herbal remedy by Bach that helps ease feelings of anxiety, panic and stress. I have recommended it to so many people who struggle with their mental health and are now huge fans.
There are so many different remedy’s that help in different ways but my favorite is the comfort and reassure dropper. I will say, it has a very strong bitter taste and little sixteen year old me took awhile to get used to the taste but it is honestly worth it. If your not good with strong, bitter flavors then I recommend trying the comfort and reassure spray.
Bach Rescue Remedy has enabled me to become more relaxed and when I can feel a wave of panic coming on, I take 4 of the drops and it eases the feelings. If you haven’t tried Rescue Remedy before, check it out here.
Take some time to find what works for you and your self care. Try out different things, even the ones your unsure about like essential oils and rescue remedy because you may be surprised with the results. At the heart of everything, remember healing is not linear and some days are harder than others. Take care of yourself and learn your limits.