7 Things You Need For An SOS Self-Care Kit For Anxiety & Depression

It was a big cardboard box. Sounds pretty dull, right?

On the lid of the box, written in glitter using a rainbow of colours, were the words, ‘Emma’s Mental Health Box.’ 

Inside were a whole bunch of things for me to use when I was having a bad day (which at that time was nearly every day).

I’ve learned that self-care kits for your mental health really work. 

So I’ll be going through 7 things you can consider putting in your SOS mental health kit for anxiety, depression, and any stress life throws at you.

  • Something that smells nice

  • Scents are essential because they ground you, calm frantic energy and lift spirits. The strongest and best effective scents are essential oils. Lavender has excellent relaxation properties, clary sage can soothe stress, and citrus’ such as lime, orange, and lemon boost your mood. 

    A candle that contains the essential oils you need has the added benefit of distributing that scent throughout the room and creating a calming environment. Try our lavender candle for anxiety or lime and mandarin for depression.

    If you don’t have the budget for essential oils or candles right now, you can choose a cheap £1 body spray from your local drug store. 

    Pick scents that appeal to you and spray them whenever you feel agitated. Your brain will start to associate the smell with peace and calming activities. However, never directly inhale aerosols as they contain toxic and harmful chemicals.

  • Something tasty

  • I love my self-care box because it always has something edible that helps my mood. 

    Tastes you can include are:

    • Herbal teas
    • Flower essences
    • Sweet treat

    Chocolate is an obvious go-to for many people because you eat chocolate for comfort, and the sugar releases dopamine (the happy hormone).

    However, if you’d rather not have chocolate in the house or you struggle with binge eating, you can opt for something like dried fruit or yogurt-covered raisins.

    Flower essences (not to be confused with indigestible essential oils) have been used to balance misaligned emotions for centuries. 

    Simply add a few drops to your tongue as and when needed, and it will go straight to your bloodstream to calm anxiety. 

    There is some debate around whether Bach flower remedies work, but even those who took a placebo saw an anxiety reduction, so it’s worth it just for the mental effect.

    My favourite edible item to keep in my SOS kit is herbal teas. 

    They’re a cheap option that you are unlikely to use in one go. Herbs such as ashwagandha and chamomile have excellent relaxation and mood-boosting effects.

    1. Something to look at

    80% of our experiences are through sight, so a quick and easy way to calm a frazzled nervous system is to light and look at a candle. Small tea lights will do, and you can learn how to use candles for your mental health daily. 

    1. Something that’s a happy memory

    Memories can make us extremely sad or very, very happy. You want to opt for the last one! 

    When you remember a positive experience, such as something that makes you laugh or was fun, it triggers a positive response. You might find yourself smiling or openly laughing at a happy memory.

    Keep something in your box that reminds you of the good times. 

    Images work best as they are more visually appealing than writing, but include anything and everything you have! It can be photos of your loved ones or great days out. You can also opt for letters or birthday cards.

    Don’t have any letters or photos? 

    Message your friends to tell them you’re making a mental health kit, and can they please send over a few sentences about what makes you great.

    1. Something with sound

    Music has a dramatic effect on your mood. Calming music, such as classical music, has been shown to relax the brain. Whereas heavy metal music can stress the brain out. 

    Am I saying you can’t listen to AC/DC? Absolutely not!

    But it is best to listen to sounds that soothe you rather than aggravate a high-energy nervous system.

    When you feel low or anxious, put on calming music or something that makes you happy. Creating a playlist on YouTube or Spotify is also a fun activity to do in your spare time.

    1. Something that uses touch

    It’s important to use something to ground you and stop you from spiralling or harming yourself.

    Harming yourself can mean something as seemingly innocent as picking at spots, biting nails, and pulling on your hair. However, they are all indicators that your body is under strain.

    Use something you can hold onto or play with to keep you in the present moment.

    A stress ball or an elastic band is good for nervous energy. A hard hairbrush is helpful for a panic attack because it is something real and solid to hold onto both mentally and physically.

    1. Something that gives you support

    The final thing I recommend is keeping a list of mental health hotlines or notes from your best friends telling you to call them when you feel overwhelmed.

    When you’re ready, you can start to expand the benefits outside the box and into your home.

    You might start drinking teas that are good for anxiety every day or listening to calming music first thing in the morning. 

    You can keep many other things, such as lifetime goals, a gratitude journal, inspirational quotes, and distraction techniques such as puzzles and coloring books.

    Having an SOS self-care kit can pull you through those difficult and rainy days.

    If you’re struggling and the mental health box isn’t cutting it for you, check out: How to use candles to calm a panic attack in 60 seconds or less.