My sister - thoughtful like our mother - is known for her care packages.
When seeing us off before a vacation, she would pack for each of our kids a bag of treats along with activities to keep them occupied for the trip. After Christmas dinner, she packed my care pack-age of turkey, stuffing and yams for the next day's lunch.
Though you may or may not have a sister or aunt who does this, you need and deserve some pampering yourself. Why not pack your own self-care package?
Also called coping kits, these emotional emergency crash kits are invaluable tools for our mental wellbeing. We may need them for our down days, when we are grieving a loss, struggling in our relationships or just feeling blue.
They can provide perspective and strength when we are stressed, anxious or worried, and they can help us get through a panic attack. They can give us a lift when we're feeling grumpy and cool us off when tempers simmer.
Without preparing a self-care package, we may default to more maladaptive coping habits.
Smoking, drinking, drugs and overeating may make us feel better for the moment while sabotaging our health.
So what are the essential contents of your self-care package?
You may need printed step-by-step instructions to remind you what to do in the event of a panic attack, an emotional crisis or a totally negative day.
In the heat of the moment, when you are feeling overwhelmed, you may not remember them.
The instructions for a panic attack may include a reminder to take slow easy breaths, recite positive, calming aphorisms, and imagine your body calming with each slow breath.
Your rainy day coping kit may include objects - such as photos - that remind you of that which makes life worthwhile, particularly your positive relationships. Include cards and messages from them.
In case of an emotional emergency, include your lifelines - the people you should call. These are the ones who care about you and can give you a positive perspective.
Of course, every self-care package should include life's little pleasures: your favourite songs (the tunes that always give you a lift and the words you can't keep from singing out loud), your favourite movies (that engage your imagination, inspire you or just make you laugh) and even a modest serving of your favourite comfort food.
What you can't pack into any physical or virtual self-care package is an activity you always enjoy.
It could be dancing, swimming, running or spending time with a good friend.
Whatever it is, you should do it today. and any day when you need a lift.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician at the PrimeCare Medical Centre. His Healthwise column appears regularly in this paper. You can read more at davidicuswong.wordpress. com.
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