Now obviously we have our own lovely boxes that you can purchase ( Self Care Support Gift shameless plug) but we are also very aware that people with mental health issues are likely to be less affluent and have less disposable income than average. Maybe you like our boxes but you just can’t afford them, or want to make something of your own. So here is a little guide to how I made the first one, particularly why I included the items I did.
Mine is very much based on my Bad Day Plans so you could take a look at that if you haven’t already. Once I made mine, I realised that I didn’t always have all the things that I needed completely prepared for when I had a really bad day – in fact, as my bad days come after a period of decline, I was much less likely to have the things I needed and that just made things worse. So I devised a box that could be stored under the bed which would have most of the things I would need in to get me through the day, there for when it would help me most. When I told a friend about the idea, she said ‘It’s like well you looking after unwell you’ which is a sentiment I really love (thanks Sarah!)
The thing that I need are; the easiest food and drink ever, something to keep my mind occupied but is familiar, and things to remind me it’s ok to have a bad day and it will ease off if I let myself rest. The idea is to make it easy for yourself, but to plan to have things that help you look after yourself better than you might do otherwise. A great example of this is the food and drink I chose – all instant, but better quality that usual. Instant porridge is great because it only requires you to boil the kettle, but still keeps you feeling full and gives you a steady energy source, instead of a sugar spike and crash. Flavoured microwave rice feels like more of a meal than the plain stuff, tastes better but is just as easy to make (you can even eat it cold) Snacks are generally less of a problem energy wise but can be nutrition wise, so I went for dried fruit and nuts. Finally, the thing that would most make me feel more icky is having no milk for my tea or coffee. I know I would not be able to go out and get some, and would get into one of those awful shame spirals around being crap because I didn’t pick some up, and because I can’t go 10mins down to the shop. Not helpful. So having UHT milk, though not as nice, is a vast improvement on black tea or coffee for me,stops the shame spiral and would help me feel more comforted. Oh and of course chocolate in some form, because chocolate. This may not be the best exact items for everyone, and I know that just getting out of bed can be impossible for some people, so having to go boil the kettle is just not going to happen. And that’s ok. Possibly you just hate all the stuff I just listed. That’s also ok. There’s tones of instant food and drink out there you can stash away, and investigating it is kind of fun (though a touch risky taste wise…) This is just a guide, so that you can figure out the best things for you.
Next up for me in terms of self care is some kind of attempt at cleaning myself in some way. This is probably the hardest one for me, I can get up for food, but I’m pretty much straight back under the duvet. It can feel a bit pointless even, when you’re fairly sure you’ll be in bed all day. But I have realised it does tend to make me feel better, so I try to have a wash and brush my teeth once on a bad day, though it tends to be round 4pm or later. If I’m feeling extra perky I might even shower, though I know hair-washing is totally out of the question (it’s not just the hair washing, it’s the faff of drying it, some bits going fluffy, some still not dry, getting unreasonably sweaty for no apparent reason….. you get it). Some of the obstacles for me are things like; do I even have soap, a clean dry towel and clean dry comfy clothes? Getting a bit damp and then back into my pjs is probably not going to do it for me. Neither is realising I have no clean underwear and the only clothes I have are a touch on the formal side (sequins = ouch) – it’s not the same level of snuggle if stretchy cotton isn’t involved. I include new soap just because it’s really nice to have a brand new bar, especially a new scent. And then even a small clean dry towel is necessary to get you prepared for the clean, comfy clothes you can keep aside, and feel a bit more human and less duvet-sentient-being hybrid. Of course if you have fully merged with the duvet and pjs for the time being, you could get the cleansing wipes involved, or even old-school scented water and cotton flannel if you are concerned about being more ‘green’.
One of the best investments I’ve made is my electric toothbrush. You can get the battery operated ones for about £4 in cheaper shops, and it just makes the amount of energy required so much lower than scrubbing away by hand. It seems like such a strangely specific thing, but pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to about this agrees that brushing your teeth is the thing they avoid the most. And a reasonable tasting toothpaste is usually a plus, so you feel minty fresh not polystyrene ick ( what even is that taste?) If that is not for you, you could try mouthwash, chewing gum, or those weird little plastic chewable toothbrush things you can get in service station bathrooms.
For entertainment/distraction purposes, I have my phone charger by my bed so I know at least my phone is charged enough to use for chatting/messaging/cat videos etc even if I can’t be bothered to get up for my laptop. I’m also literally surrounded by books in my bedroom, I can easily reach about twenty without even sitting up in bed, so that I have covered. I still keep a favourite or two nearby so I can slip into one of my favourite worlds and away from this one for a while, with the comfort of knowing the story but still being enchanted by it. If you’re a music or film person have the necessary paraphernalia for that nearby is a good plan. And as a seemingly random aside, there is something genuinely calming and wondrous about blowing bubbles and watching the light catch them in effervescent rainbows before popping gently out of existence. I also have an Eyore to cuddle, which is great because I know he understands how I feel. (Although often I feel simultaneously quite Piglet, Pooh, and sometimes Rabbit but almost never Tigger. I love those guys.)
Hopefully there is something here you can use to help plan for a bad day so it’s a bit less icky and a bit more restful. If you have pets or humans who depend on you, that’s a whole other ball game, so I’ve decided to do another post about that seperately.
Kind thoughts always,