What is a self-care box?
Also known as a Make-it-better box, a self-care box is what it says really – a personalised box that looks beautiful and contains things to make you feel good. It is a tool for improving your mood and sense of wellbeing. The contents are personal to the person who makes it and can range from a notebook and pen to incense, chocolate, aroma therapy oils, candles, bath oil, packets of tea or sachets of hot chocolate, photos, affirmations, quotes, books, postcards, mementos, tapes – anything that might perk you up when times are tough.
Why should I Make One?
Firstly it’s fun to do and you don’t have to be arty. I have made these with a variety of people and they have all loved it once they started. It is also about giving yourself permission and time to do something nurturing just for you: something many of us are not very good at. We put a lot of time and energy into our work, our children, our homes etc, but neglect ourselves. This is an activity that is about taking some time to look after yourself.
Who can make one?
Anyone can make them – it is a fun activity to do either on your own or with friends. You don’t need to be artistic. It is also a great activity to do with groups – it has been used in women’s refuges, old people’s homes, mental health groups, carer’s forums etc. It is a great thing to do with children too, or as a family. I made them with adults and children when I was volunteering with a local charity, and it was one of our most successful sessions.
What do I need?
A shoe box or another largish box with a lid
Some wrapping paper or magazines with inspiring pictures or patterns (I picked some good ones up in my local charity shop)
Old calendars or greeting cards.
Fabric scraps (optional)
Sequins and glitter (optional)
Anything else you can think of – beads, buttons, tissue paper, pictures etc. (If you are inspired by dogs or cats find pictures of dogs or cats, you can also add words if you like. I used coloured tissue paper on mine)
Acrylic or poster paint (optional)
How do I do it?
1) Cut out pictures, shapes, words, colours and textures that appeal to you. You might want pictures or you might focus on pattern or texture.
2) Collage all over your box with pictures or patterns (this is called decoupage). There is no right or wrong way to do this – just do what appeals to you. You can layer the images up or spread them out. You could paint your box instead if you choose – or you could combine the two techniques.
3) Then add any embellishments that appeal to you – fabric, ribbon, glitter sequins, words etc.
4) Fill your box – think about what things might cheer you up if you are down. Some people have photos of friends and family. Some people choose a pamper kit. I have a friend who put funny animal pictures in hers because they always made her smile!
5) If you want to you can cover the inside of your box with fabric or wrapping paper.
6) Some people like to spray their boxes with acrylic varnish to make it more hardwearing – this is personal choice really – I have left mine unvarnished because I like the different textures.
Keep your box somewhere safe – by your bed, under a bed, in a drawer – or if you prefer keep it out where you can see it.
- License: Image author owned
Sam Wright is a freelance journalist with an interst in mental health, writing for Third Sector.