mental health DIY crafts: self care kit

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During my therapy sessions back home, and my counseling sessions in college I have found that I frequently bring up creative self care ideas. I have my stress ball, but do I pull it out when I really need it? I have my positive quotes, but do I read them? During a walk-in appointment this past week I said, "I almost need to fill a box of self care/ coping techniques so I can just have everything there when I need it." The counselor said, "That's not a bad idea!" I smiled and said, "Oh I know, I'm serious." 
"OH I'm great at coming up with ideas to help myself, It's just doing them that is my problem." 

I went home for the weekend, and returned to campus with a wooden box that I had found in the craft section of Walmart. 

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Just by doodling on it in colorful sharpie marker has been zen enough. Coloring is very relaxing for me. Whether it appears "artsy" or not, I just wanted to fill it with color. I'm still working on it.

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SO FAR, This is what I have inside:

  • a stress ball, given to me for free by the counseling center here on campus. (They said they give them out only to special people..I'll just take the gift without questioning that statement) 
  • a vomit journal. A journal I have 100% dedicated to spitting out my messy emotions in. 
  • The book "The little book of Confidence." with motivational quotes
  • The teeny tiny book, "Hang in There" pocket sized and filled with reassurance that "it's going to be okay." When you need to hear it from another voice.
  • A letter written by my Papa. When I went home for the weekend my Nana had given me pieces of his writing/wisdom that she wanted me to have. I found a letter, "Dear Haley Catherine" and already started crying, putting it aside to read for later. He wrote it on the day I was born. It makes me emotional but I am lucky to have a piece of him. His words of love to me when I first entered the world are nothing but inspiration to keep on being the little fighter I am- for him. 
  • A document of tools to turn to when anxiety takes over- created and provided by one of the campus counselors. (I promise I don't live there) ;-)

I am still thinking of things to add, but for now that is my start.
I haven't had an anxiety breakdown or "crisis moment" since I put it together, but it's all set. I can't always prevent my anxiety attacks. I can only ride them out. Instead of hating myself for them and fighting against them, I can be prepared to care for myself during that time. 

My roommate is aware of my "self care kit" as well. I told her to redirect me to the box if I am having a down day, and she is on board.

I find it difficult to always tackle these battles mentally when I am mentally struggling. 
I am becoming more knowledgeable and creative about physical plans to make for myself. 
Since I've been on campus I have:

  • Created a weekly schedule for my time-management (classes) AND a second one for self care incorporated in my day. 
  • Given myself a sleep schedule to try and stay on track.
  • Set alarms to remind me about my self care schedule. "yoga, homework, rest, 9pm gratitude journal before bed, etc."
  • and now...my self care kit creation.

This Thursday I met with my counselor. She remembered that I entered the counseling center for the purpose of continuing the skills I've learned, continue learning new ones, and to reach out BEFORE I need to, avoiding ending up where I was before-" 

She pointed out everything I've been doing right that has shown I have been working against ending up where I was this past year. 
She genuinely asked how I have been getting my work done and making it to my classes even with the anxiety I have had these past 2 weeks. I just shrugged, thinking I didn't have a choice. But I did. She looked me in the eye and said, 'I'm serious. You're a rockstar." I laughed a little but it was the mood booster I needed.

I left acknowledging the hard work I've put in, whether it feels hard or not. It felt fun to be called a rockstar, but I'm definitely in agreement that I'm doing okay. I'm liking this "college me." She has grown- big time.

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Haley Tiffany