What have you done lately that you chose to do solely because it makes you happy?
Out of all the things living with a mental illness has taught me, self-care is one of the most important ones. No matter if you have a mental illness or not, we all need to take time out of our lives to decompress and do what brings us joy. Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, we all should take time to show ourselves some love and self-care. The picture above is what I like to call my “unofficial self-care kit” and the contents range from things that help me organize my life/thoughts to things that distract me.
What’s in my self-care kit (starting from the left hand corner going clockwise):
My “Great Wave” notebook: Probably the most beautiful notebook I have ever owned. It features one of my favorite pieces if art, The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai. Before I got my amazing planner, I used this to plan out when I would do course work, but now I use it to store random thoughts from important things I need to keep track of to poetry to pages of venting about bad days. It has come in handy so many times and looks professional.
My “Art Therapy” coloring book: I’ve always loved coloring books and admittedly colored pages past an age where it was socially acceptable. Now that people realized the therapeutic benefits of it, there are so many options of coloring books for adults. This one is filled with beautiful, intricate pictures of animals. If I do a good enough job on some of the pages, I might frame them and use them to decorate my apartment. You could always use any coloring book that suits your fancy.
Painting: This is one of my first paintings from a few years ago that I created as a gift for my boyfriend. I always thought I wasn’t artistic (I was more into science growing up), but I proved myself wrong once I explored my creativity. I did trace the outline of Bulbasaur (a Pokemon) and tried to match its coloring. I have painted original pieces, but this one will always have a special place in my heart.
NAMI SWPA pamphlet: This represents so much for me. I’m a trained speaker for my local chapter of NAMI and it brings me such joy to educate people about mental illness. Every time I speak to a group, it’s like group therapy because it gets the conversation started for other people. Sharing my story to help people know their not alone gave me purpose in life. It inspired my major/future career aspirations. The people at the chapter have become like a family to me and my work with them inspires me to never give up.
My “Daily Intention Tracker”: Last year was a roller coaster of a year for me, but then I learned about mindfulness and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). While I have never been in a formal DBT program, I did my research on the techniques and how mindfulness can help you get in control of my emotions. Getting my emotions to hand over the reigns to me so to speak was something I always struggled with and my therapist tried to give me ways to rewire my thinking. Then I randomly found this notepad at Barns & Noble and it changed my life. I don’t use it as much as I used to, but essentially it helps you rewire your thoughts and make you appreciate every day. It also helps you accept the bad things you can’t change and learn from them. It’s relatively inexpensive and my therapist called it “DBT for Dummies” when I showed it to her, so it’s therapist approved!
My Moleskine planner: I love this little guy. It’s small enough to fit in pretty much any purse, but big enough for me to still be able to write in it. It’s set up perfect for people like me whose life would fall apart if I didn’t make checklists to organize my thoughts. It was inexpensive, but a great little investment that makes my life much more organized. Plus, checking things off my to-do lists makes me feel accomplished and reinforces that I’m making progress towards certain goals.
My Run The Jewels “Run The Jewels 2” album and a Vola sticker: Last year was a great year for music in my personal opinion and these two artist are two of my favorite bands that released albums last year. Run The Jewels (rapper Big Mike and rapper/producer El-P) renewed my love of rap with their balance of beats you could jam out to and lyrics that either made you laugh or made your think. They remind me of the rap music from the early 90s that I grew up on. The Vola sticker is for a Danish band of the same name (don’t worry, they sing in English). Their album “Inmazes” is probably my most replayed album of all time. I listen to it when I’m stressed, happy, doing homework, or just want to sing my heart out. Vola’s music is exprimental/prog rock and it’s unlike anything I have ever heard. I play the whole album at least 3 times a week and listen to songs from that album almost every day.
Colored pencils: To go with my coloring book.
Not pictured but still totally important to me:
Horror movies: I am a horror movie aficionado! My grandma pretty much raised me on them and I’m forever grateful. There is such a cathartic aspect to this genre that many people don’t appreciate. I love getting scared and the adrenaline rush that comes from it. There are some movies that I hate because they spread misinformation about mental illnesses and treatment facilities, but those are few and far between. I don’t have a favorite because I love so many.
Superhero stuff: Ever since I was little, I have always loved superheroes. I could go on an on about why exactly I am drawn to superheroes and why they mean so much for me, but that another post in itself. I’m a huge fan of the X-Men films, Marvel’s many superhero film and their Netflix shows (Jessica Jones, which features a great explanation of PTSD, and Daredevil). When it comes to DC Comics, I love The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow shows. I always look forward to them because they help me relax and take me to another world for an hour.
That’s it for my “self-care kit”! Now your mission (if you so choose) is to think of what’s in your kit. What do you currently do to “Treat Yo Self”? If you don’t currently do any self-care activities, what are little things that you can incorporate into your life to help you have moments of relaxation? Let me know in the comments or shoot me a tweet (@SouperNic). Remember, self-care isn’t selfish!
Stay s(o)uper! -Nic