“Work doesn't work without play.” Shonda Rhimes
Self care has become extremely recently and I also spend a good deal of my time assisting my clients on various ways they can incorporate self care within their daily routine. During my time interning at an outpatient hospitalization program, I came across this Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) technique of creating a self care tool box for distress tolerance. Distress tolerance skills are used when you are facing a situation you have little control over and is a short term approach in order to distract yourself when we are experiencing emotional/physical pain. Some popular ideas for a self care tool box that I have gathered while working at the hospital was to put items such as a journal, old teddy bear, gum, stress ball, candle, a face mask and/or anything that brings you comfort inside a box. All of those items are great and I know they have been effective in helping others, but if you are anything like me, when I am feeling stressed out, I find it helpful when I have directions on how I can take care of myself. Therefore, I found myself continuing my research on self care and stumbled across the book, The Art of Extreme Self Care by Cheryl Richardson. In the book, Richardson has provided a self care list of questions you can answer and use when you are in need of a distraction from current circumstances that may be difficult. You can answer the questions to this list and place them inside your self care box along with the other objects of your choosing. I provided my own spin (of course!) of questions below along with guided explanations for each.
Self Care List Questions:
1. Who can support me in this moment?
-It can be helpful to speak to someone who you can trust when you are going through a difficult time. Make sure that you choose people who are uplifting in order to shift your energy towards the positive.
2. Who should I stay away from?
-This question allows us to reevaluate who we are surrounding ourselves with. Sometimes when we are unhappy or just experienced something painful, it can be because we have been spending time with others who are unhealthy. Research has discovered we start to act like the 5 people we hang out with the most. So choose your friends wisely!
3. How can I take care of my body?
-Feeding your body with whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables and exercising on regular basis is key to maintaining happiness. When was the last time you ate something that is good for you or took a walk in your neighborhood. Take the time to write out some of your favorite ways to take care of your physical well-being.
4. What can I say no to?
- I know many of us have difficulty with saying no to others and relate to being a ‘people pleaser’. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed by all of the responsibilities you are expected to complete. Use this time to see if you can get out of something that you have previously volunteered for or accepted responsibility to. You will find that some things can be put off for another week or someone else can take over for you. Try not to feel guilty or be guilted into doing something that is causing you stress. Remember, self care is not selfish!
5. What unhelpful coping strategies do I need to avoid?
-When we are not feeling great, it is easy for us to reach for things or participate in activities that will not serve us in a positive way. It is important to make a list of things that you will want to avoid in order to remind yourself to use a healthier coping skill instead.
6. What spiritual practice restores my energy and connects me to my higher self?
-Maintaining a form on spiritual practice is crucial to maintain happiness according to psychologists. Even if you do not consider yourself a religious person, you can create a practice that works best for you. It can be anything from attending church every Sunday to taking a yoga class once a week.
7. How can I comfort myself?
-Do you need to call someone? Do you need to be alone? A hug from your partner? Write down some ideas for yourself you can use for future reference.
8. How can I express myself in a healthy way?
-We can become quick to react in an unhealthy way when are hurt or feeling stressed out. Come up with multiple ways on how you would like to respond in mindful manner when you are in distress. This could be writing out your feelings in a journal in order to gather your thoughts or finding a private space to scream out your frustration.
9. How can I remind myself to stay in the present moment?
-There are so many objects and apps that you can use to help you return to the here and now. I personally love to use the Calm app, which has a little breathing bubble to help you focus on your breath.
10. What can I do for self care?
- Have you been neglecting taking care of yourself? I know this can be different for everyone. My favorite ways are reading a book, going to get a mani/pedi, or taking a long walk in the woods.
Answering these 10 questions will help assist you when you are in distress and need ideas on how to look after yourself. Don't forget to add your favorite belongings in your self care box. You can get as simple or creative as you want with this. Use color pencils, fancy colored paper, and/or ask a friend to create one with you! Also, you can even design one to keep at home and one for on the go! Have fun creating your self care tool box!