The most common question you lovely people ask me is “I’m worried about a friend who’s struggling – what can I do to help?”. As much as we may want to, we can’t make the storm clouds disappear; but what we can do is hold their hand and walk with with them through the rain. It can also be extremely difficult to encourage your friend to open up to you about what’s going on; just let them know that you’re there for them whenever they are ready, if not through words then through a gesture. A ‘self care kit’ is a thoughtful and inexpensive way to help a friend through a rocky patch. Equally, it’s a wonderful kit to create for your self! Here are some of my suggestions for what to include, but it can of course be tailored to the recipient:
Colouring: the current ‘adult colouring’ craze means we have an almost overwhelming selection of beautiful colouring books to choose from in any stationery shop we set foot in. It is also just as easy (and a great deal cheaper) to print out some blank mandala patterns or online colouring pages. I find that colouring is immensely calming when I’m feeling anxious, so I now carry a colouring book and pack of colourful pens with me almost everywhere I go!
Bath bombs/ bubble bath: we all need to pamper ourselves sometimes, “almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you”
A Candle: I love watching candles, I can quite literally sit and stare at them for hours! They’re a great distraction AND they make your room smell lovely!
Nail varnish: a fun colour or something sparkly – it will give you something relatively productive to concentrate on (and for quite a while if your hands are as shaky as mine!)
Photos: be it a group photo from a friend’s birthday or a hilariously unflattering snapchat that you couldn’t not save – pictures really do speak a thousand words in that they can sometimes make us smile at a time when no amount of words can
An Uplifting Playlist: make a list of songs that make you feel better: disney, some cheesy S-Club-7, that song you overplayed on your girls’ holiday, or perhaps some from my recovery playlist
Films/ Videos: put in your favourite childhood DVD, or as we live in the high-tech world we do, you could write down some Netflix recommendations. You could even include a list of youtube URLs (funny cat videos make everything better)
Quotes: (I really do love quotes!) Write out a couple of your favourites on little pieces of paper. If you’re lost for inspiration here is the link to my Recovery Board on Pinterest
Tea: throw in a bundle of your favourite tea-bags: green tea, fruit tea, camomile or english breakfast – whatever floats your boat! (if you really don’t like tea then hot chocolate is always an option – supermarkets stock little sachets in all sorts of groovy flavours!)
Support network ( + contact numbers): write the recipient’s name in the middle of the paper (this can be yourself!) and mind-map all the people that make up their ‘support system’. You can get as creative as you like with this; perhaps have one branch for friends, one for family, one for professionals and so on. Don’t forget to include contact numbers/ emails – let the person know that there will always be someone available if they want to reach out, no matter what time it is!
Face paints / Henna: this one is particularly targeted, though not exclusive, to self harm. Drawing an intricate henna pattern or covering your arms in beautifully painted flowers is a creative alternative that really worked for me
A Letter: write down all those things you’ve been trying to put into words but couldn’t quite get across – how far they have come and all the reasons why they should keep going. And yes, it is perfectly acceptable (and extremely healing) to write a letter to yourself!
Olivia In Wonderland