How to Build an Emergency Self-Care Kit with Sam SquireFebruary, 2021
Self-care is more than bubble baths and ice-cream.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes they’re great to include in a self-care routine – but the media and society often make it seem like that’s the only way to do self-care. What you don’t often hear is how self-care is truly “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.”
Based on the definition of what self-care really means, the actions we need to take to support our overall well-being aren’t always the most indulgent choices. I mean, who wants to eat their veggies and go to bed early every night? Self-care is simple but it’s not always easy and, on top of that, it looks different for everyone.
Which is why I recommend building an Emergency Self-Care Kit – a strategy for when you notice that you’re feeling irritable, overwhelmed or stressed, turn to your list. It takes out the work of figuring out what you need to do to feel better and can help you destress to get back on track.
Building an Emergency Self-Care kit is personal and will look different for everyone, but here are the top five universal acts of self-care everyone can benefit from:
Rest is not a reward. It is not something you need to earn – it’s something you already deserve, regardless of what you’ve accomplished. We are human beings – not human doings. When you rest your physical body, your mind will follow suit. This allows your nervous system to relax and recharge so you can take on whatever life throws at you. Not only is rest productive – it’s also an act of self-love.
2. Positive Self-Talk
When you notice yourself speaking negatively (give yourself a pat on the back for even noticing – awareness is the first step), pause and replace your negative thoughts and statements with positive ones. For example, rather than beating yourself up about sleeping in on a Sunday when you wanted to be productive, pause and remind yourself how essential sleep is to your well-being, then gently remind yourself you have plenty of time to accomplish everything you’re meant to accomplish that day.
The science of neuroplasticity explains how the brain can adapt and change. When we work on our positive self-talk, we are stimulating and encouraging positive neural networks in our brains, which can drastically improve our well-being and even feelings toward ourselves over time.
Whether you like to dance, workout, run, do yoga or walk, science has proven that exercise and movement have powerful effects on mental and physical health – which is why it’s a must-have in your Emergency Self-Care Kit. When you notice that you’re feeling irritated, anxious or stressed, move your body! It doesn’t always have to be a full workout – try skipping, taking a walk or any other movement that’s accessible in the moment.
4. Singing or Humming
The vagus nerve is the queen of the parasympathetic nervous system (our rest and digest state). The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve that extends from the brainstem through our bodies and communicates with our internal organs. When we sing or hum, we create a deep vibration in our body, especially in the belly and chest. This stimulates the vagus nerve and communicates to our nervous system that it’s time to relax.
Mindfulness is about being fully present and aware without being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It’s the ability to pay attention moment to moment, without judgement. Much like self-care, mindfulness is simple but not always easy. It takes practice. Mindfulness is important to have in your Emergency Self-Care Kit because it’s an all-encompassing reminder to be kind, loving, gentle and forgiving toward ourselves no matter what we are faced with in life.
I encourage you to add to this list some of your own self-care practices to create real steps toward participating in one of the biggest self-love acts – taking care of yourself.