Willow’s Self-Care Series Pt. IV: Building a Self-Care Toolkit

Building Your Self-Care Toolkit

Everyone should have their own self-care toolkit! It can be physical, mental, digital, or a combination of those things. Here’s what I’ve got in mine; I hope it can inspire you to gather your own.

Tangible items in my Self-Care Toolkit:

  • A journal with a habit tracker. I try to take a few minutes out of each day to track my habits and moods. This allows me to acknowledge patterns and correlations between how I’m feeling and how well I’m caring for myself. It also helps remind me to complete the self-care tasks that we take for granted, especially in difficult times. For example, flossing your teeth, eating three substantial meals a day, spending time outdoors, and taking off your makeup at night are essential parts of self-care that we often don’t see as such because they are such “normal every-day” tasks. For my journal, I only use the CUTEST pens I can find!
  • Glitter, stickers, or a craft. How can you be down when you have 100 sparkly dog stickers to stick on whatever you want?!
  • Some lovely-smelling essential oil blends that relax and invigorate me – lavender and rosemary are my favourite. Pop them in a diffuser or mix with a carrier oil, melt into bliss, repeat.
  • My beauty kit: I’m always well-stocked in nail grooming supplies, face masks, and Epsom salt soaks! My beauty routines never fail to perk me up on the gloomiest of days.
  • My favourite book: “All About Love” by Bell Hooks, a feminist manifesto about love and justice. I’ve dog-eared and highlighted my favourite passages to no end! Reading some of my favourite quotations from the book really help ground and center me when I’m feeling low.

The Tool-Kit that is my mind!

  • A list of folks I know I can rely on when I need them. Sometimes we may feel like we are alone… but we never are!
  • Practicing self-compassion. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I can be hard on myself when I don’t do my best or get something right on the first try. Being mindful of how I’m treating myself is incredibly important. Being kind to yourself is often taken for granted, and there are many forces at work in the world that make it all too easy to get down on ourselves. When you have compassion for yourself, you can gain confidence and self-esteem, as well as improve your capacity for compassion for others.
  • Working with affirmations. Don’t forget to tell yourself every day that you’re smart, kind, loving, hard-working, talented, worthy, and wonderful.
  • Grounding yourself in the five senses is an excellent tool for dealing with stress and anxiety. Take a moment to be present and tune into your surroundings. What do you hear? What do you see? What do you smell?

Digital Self-Care

  • I use the Duolingo app to practice French and German. It’s a great distraction from every day stresses and the feeling of accomplishment when you finish a lesson never gets old.
  • I use the Clue app to track my menstrual cycles. This allows me to make connections between my mood, bodily functions and my cycle. Once you have enough data entered in the app, it creates graphs and makes predictions about your cycle. Too cool!
  • I use the Costar astrology app for comprehensive astrology chart readings and knowledge. I’m not even sure if I believe the stars have anything to do with me, but reading detailed horoscopes on the daily is grounding and centering. You can even add your friends to your chart and see your compatibility!
  • Podcasts! Podcasts! Podcasts!! I love losing myself in a podcast. They’re usually free, and there’s one out there for just about every niche interest. Some of my favourites these days are “Hidden Brain”, “Sounds Like MLM But OK”, “Smart Girls Club”, and “This Podcast Will Kill You”. I found a lot of my favourite podcasts using the NPR radio app which can help you find shows you’re interested in.
  • A folder of cute animal photos on your phone is sometimes exactly what you need.
  • Engaging with social media has many positive and negative impacts on our lives. Social media allows folks to curate how others see them. This can cause us to feel down on ourselves or jealous of others when we see only the best highlights of others lives. Remind yourself that you only see the best slices of others’ lives on Facebook and Instagram- and that it’s okay to tune out or disengage with social media.

“One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others. There was a time when I felt lousy about my over-fourty body, saw myself as too fat, too this, or too that. Yet I fantasized about finding a lover who would give me the gift of being loved as I am. It is silly, isn’t it, that I would dream of someone else offering to me the acceptance and affirmation I was withholding from myself. This was a moment when the maxim “You can never love anybody if you are unable to love yourself” made clear sense. And I add, “Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give yourself.”
? Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

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