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Your well-meaning assistant pokes her head in the door. Everything ok, she asks. Did you forget to eat again? A sarcastic NO comes out of your mouth, followed by a side eye stare.

She backs away from the door, slowly closing it behind her.

Where did that come from?  You take a deep breath and tune in to what is happening.

You’re anxious, overwhelmed and just a little angry. All around you see the evidence of a week gone wild.

Your neglected gym bag sits in the corner. Your mom’s taxes and the sign up form for the sprint triathlon your best friend wants to do sit together on the corner of your desk. There are at least five more quarterly reviews to finish by the end of week but your calendar is filled with budget and committee meetings. YOU are nowhere on this never ending to-do list.

STOP. You are experiencing a self-care emergency.

First you apologize to your assistant and then you request no one enter your office for 20 minutes. Then you go back to your door, close your laptop, silence your phone and pull your self-care kit out of your desk drawer.

At my latest Refill Your Cup Retreat, I wanted the ladies to take home the tools they needed to create an at home (or at work) self-care ritual. While retreating to a cabin in the woods is a highly recommended way to practice self-care, we all agreed this was not something we could do on a weekly or monthly basis. Instead, we spent some time going over simple self-care practices and learning how to create a self-care kit.

If you need to create a self-care kit, here are the steps we used to build our routines and self-care box.

  1. What makes you happy? When was the last time someone asked you what makes you happy? Unless you have an awesome friend who checks on your joy in anticipation of the first day of spring, it’s probably been a while. The first step in creating a self-care kit is understanding what really makes you happy. Your assignment is to make a list of 20 things that make you happy. One rule, only five of those things can involve other people. The rest need to be just about you.
  2. Make some notes. Journaling is an awesome form of self-care in itself. It is also a great way to continue to understand what you need to do to create self-care rituals instead of waiting for an emergency. Check out this great list of journal prompts and spend 10-20 minutes exploring your needs, fears and dreams. You can also print out a copy and keep in your self-care kit.
  3. Use your senses to collect objects for calm and comfort. Here is where your kit really starts to come together. At the retreat, I asked participants to let their senses be their guide in creating a list of things that make them feel safe, uplifted and cared for. They were asked to list items under the categories of sight, smell, taste, sound and touch. I started them off with a purposely non-descript box that could be decorated with stickers and washi tape upon their return home. I put four starter objects in the box: a worry stone, a lavender scented candle, a positive affirmation card and Meadow Walk Herbal Tea from Plum Deluxe. Their lists included things like dark chocolate, a small journal, fuzzy socks and a kitten. (I do not condone putting kittens in boxes, so your box may be more symbolic than literal.) Their mission was to work on filling their boxes (real or symbolic) upon returning home and placing it somewhere that they can easily see and access.

Everyone knows how to do busy; self-care can be a much bigger challenge.  Our weeks fill up easily with soccer tournaments, Junior League meetings and baby siting the grand kids. If you’re calendar is constantly filling up without a bit of space for YOU, this assignment is critical. While I encourage being proactive and making self-care a daily ritual, you need to at least create something that you can “break in case of emergency” when you find your self in a self-care crisis.

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