The idea of self-care boxes has been around for a while. Some call them coping boxes, happy boxes, self-care kits – but the exact name isn’t too important. What’s important is that they are a very useful tool when it comes to taking care of your mental (and sometimes physical) health. Whether you struggle with depression or anxiety or not, taking care of yourself should be a number one priority, and so the self-care box is for anyone and everyone.
There are companies who make and sell these boxes, tailored to specific needs and lifestyles. But I think to get the most benefit out of a self-care box, you should make your own, making it unique to you, your interests and your requirements.
Like the idea so far? Read on to find out how you can make your own self-care box.
But first, what exactly is a self-care box?
When you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, sadness, stress, etc. it can be very difficult to remember the things that make you feel happy, uplifted and calm. The last thing you might be considering is that you need to take care of yourself. You may even be beating yourself up about your mood. From my personal experience of depression, I know that I do that a lot. Why am I not being productive? Why can’t I do anything to help myself? There must be something wrong with me.
And yet, it is in these moments, when we least feel like it, that we really need to take care of our mental wellbeing. So how can you break out of the negative cycle to do this?
This is where the self-care box comes in. Now, instead of trying to remember the list of activities and things that make you feel better and that are good for you, all you need to remember is to reach for your box.
Your box will be filled with all those things that bring you joy, calm and comfort. If knitting is something that makes you happy, put some knitting needles and wool in your box. If you find drinking tea relaxing, include a few tea bags, and a list of your favourite, calming songs for good measure. Maybe scribbling furiously, going for a run, or playing with furry friends are what lift your mood. Keep a pen and paper, your gym clothes, and the business card of your local animal shelter in your box (no live animals in your box, please! You and your furry friends will be better off for it 😛 )
There is no right or wrong way to make a self-care box (or kit). It can be any size or shape. It can be as simple as a list you pin up in a prominent place, or it can be as elaborate as a wooden chest you hand-crafted yourself. Whatever feels right for you, go with it.
The making of your self-care box can be a very therapeutic process (almost/just as therapeutic as what the contents will be!). Read on for some tips and tricks on how you can go about making your own self-care box.
Tips and tricks for making your own self-care box
Start off by brainstorming a list of things and activities that make you feel good, and that help you take care of yourself. You can search online for ideas, but ultimately go with things you genuinely enjoy and not just things that sound good. For example, I like the idea of yoga and it can be good for you, but it’s just not my thing and I would rather go for a hike in nature anyway. Ask friends and family for ideas – you’d be surprised at the insights they may have on your interests.
If you’re someone who likes to plan out a project, make a rough sketch of your box to get an idea of what you would like it to look like. I did this and it helped a lot when it came to gathering the necessary supplies and materials.
If you’re looking to save money with this project, use a delivery- or shoebox, and decorate it using old magazines and craft supplies you’d find in the kids’ section. You can do a lot with the bare minimum, so get creative and break out the glitter glue!
There is no prescribed way your self-care box should look. Be gentle with yourself while decorating your box – even if you make a “mistake”, it will add character to it. You might get inspiration from other people’s boxes, but yours doesn’t have to look exactly the same as theirs. It’s not meant to be a piece of art. Think of it more as a piece of creative expression.
When filling your box, I’d recommend including a list of the activities that you enjoy and which are generally good at pulling you out of a funk. It’s not always convenient/possible to store everything related to these activities in your box, but this list will remind you to try the activities nonetheless. For example, one of my go-to activities is to sit outside in the sun. There’s no physical object related to that, so it’s on my list. Stick your list on the inside of the box lid so that’s it’s easily accessible.
Put your box where it can be easily seen and accessed. I’ve left mine on my desk so that I see it every day. The trick is to make it as easy as possible to reach for when you do need it. Trust me, the last thing you want to be doing when you’re feeling down is to be looking for a box in the back of your cupboard.
And finally, ask a close friend or family member to remind you to use your box whenever they notice that you are in a bad space. A good candidate is someone you normally turn to when things take a downward spiral. This is not so that they can brush off your feelings and tell you to help yourself. This is so that you can empower yourself with the right tools to get through emotionally difficult times.
My self-care box
To see how I made my self-care box, you can watch the video below or read the process description that follows. Once again, this is not meant to prescribe how a self-care box is meant to look, but it may serve as inspiration for your own box if you’re feeling particularly stuck.
For my box, I myself was very much inspired by this project by Inkie Quill (On her YouTube channel Let’s Get Inkie). At first, I thought I would copy her project closely, but as I progressed, I found ways of personalising it to fit my own creative whims and the materials I had available.
Step 1: I started by tearing out pages from magazines, targeting those that had mostly writing on them. I then tore up the pages into all sorts of strips and odd shapes.
Step 2: Next, I stuck the pieces of torn-up pages onto the outside of the box in a collage style. I always love doing this kind of thing. There’s no wrong or right way to do it, and it can become quite a mindful activity.
Step 3: I then used very watered-down white acrylic paint to cover the exterior of the box in a thin layer. This toned down the start black and white of the magazine print. White gesso would also do the trick, but ain’t nobody got money for that.
Step 4: I had to use washi tape! I put a strip of washi on all the edges of the box and lid. By using black and white tape in different patterns, I got a lovely coherent look. At this point, my box looked very pretty, and I could have left it as is. But I always play it safe with my projects, and this was not the time to play it safe. So I continued, knowing I would probably regret what I did next. But I also knew that I would love it in the end. This is my artist’s struggle haha.
At this point, my box looked very pretty, and I could have left it as is. But I always play it safe with my projects, and this was not the time to play it safe. So I continued, knowing I would probably regret what I did next. But I also knew that I would love it in the end. This is my artist’s struggle haha.
Step 5: Using the packaging technique with watercolour paints (you put some paint onto a piece of plastic and then press that plastic onto your surface), I smooshed all the colours of the rainbow onto the lid of the box. When they were all on, I wanted to get them to blend a bit more, so I went over the edges of each colour blob with a wet paintbrush.
Step 6: For the sides of the box, I used a variety of stamps and different ink pads (I found a bunch of different colours at a Christmas craft market on the cheap). Even after 48 hours, the ink didn’t dry as the magazine paper was not absorbent enough. However, this wasn’t a problem once I’d sprayed the box with a clear finish.
Step 7: I wrote “SELF CARE BOX” in a skinny font using a gold koki (marker) and cut the letters out individually with a thin white border around them. To get the letters the same height and width while leaving enough space for the white border, I drew a grid on white card first with different size boxes for the letters and spaces. I absolutely love how the gold lettering came out! I stuck it onto the lid of the box using regular Pritt (gluestick).
Step 8: I took the whole box outside and sprayed it with a coat of clear lacquer. In some places I sprayed too thickly which made the stamped ink run a bit, but otherwise, the ink was sealed in and now won’t smudge.
Step 9: The inside of my box with a bit damaged, so I cut out a piece of scrapbook 12”x12” paper to fit the base. The paper says “princess royalty” on it, so it just furthers all those good vibes this box is meant to give off.
Step 10: On a scrap piece of white card, I wrote out the heading “try this” in brush lettering, followed by a list of my favourite activities. This I stuck to the inside of the lid of the box (using double-sided tape) so that it won’t get damaged by the other contents rolling around. Also, now I just have to flip the lid over to see my list of pick-me-ups.
Step 11: And finally, I filled my box with a few of my favourite things (Sound of Music, anyone?).
What’s in my box:
- Lovely-smelling hand sugar scrub and cream
- Nail polishes in my favourite colours
- Red lipstick
- Rooibos tea
- An art journal
- A list of 20 (for now) suggestions for when I’m feeling even a little down. This includes a lot of creative activities that I can just have fun with, but also oft-recommended things like sitting in the sun or going for a walk. Never underestimate the power of the simple things!
And of course, I’ve included “stay off social media” on that list. Facebook and Instagram are black holes for self-esteem, especially when you aren’t feeling good about yourself to begin with.
As I go along and think of more things to add, I will put more items into my self-care box. It’s part of the journey as I find out more about myself and what uplifts me. My box now sits on my desk, right in my line of sight, to remind me that it’s there if ever my mood takes a bad turn.
Now here’s something special I would like to share with you. (Touch wood) ever since making this self-care box, I’ve felt less and less the need to make use of it. Perhaps because I see it every day, it serves as a constant reminder to take care of my mental health even when things are going well. Perhaps the making of it provided me with enough creative expression to last me a while. Or maybe I’m slowly overcoming the effects of stress and the perfectionism that university left with me.
Either way, I love my box, and I would encourage everyone out there to make their own 🙂
What would you put in your self-care box? Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you for reading this post, and I’ll see you in the next one!