We’ve all got good days and bad days, but for some of us, the bad days may be more frequent at times, or they feel worse than the good days feel good. Even if we get the chance to vocalize our worries and better understand what it is that makes us feel the way we do – whether it’s an anxiety disorder, depression, ADHD, OCD, or another kind of mental health problem – there’s more to get through a bad day than understanding why it might feel bad. However, having a mental health kit can help with bad and happy days.
Mental health problems are not so far removed from physical health problems. If you cut yourself chopping some carrots, then you can be aware of how and why you cut yourself and why you’re bleeding, but it doesn’t make the pain go away, nor does it address the risk of infection.
First aid kits are essential at home, at work, and at school to address minor injuries, apply pressure to wounds, restrict bleeding, provide little painkillers, and disinfect wounds quickly. And when things get really bad, we call in the paramedics. It’s the same way with your mental health. Some days, you need a first aid kit – and when things are terrible, you need someone to call in an emergency.
What is a Mental Health Kit?
A mental health kit can be anything you want it to be, as long as it fulfills its purpose of being a go-to for emotional and mental support. The contents of any person’s mental health kit will look a little different, but a few common things to consider include:
- Pictures or memorabilia that remind you of something happy.
- QR codes to playlists or links of songs or videos to watch.
- Written excerpts from books or poems that inspired you.
- A journal and a list of writing prompt.
- A stress ball.
- A weighted blanket.
- Some good herbal teas.
- A scented candle or hand cream that soothes you.
- A coloring book.
- And much more!
You don’t need to cram your mental health kit with a hundred different things or resign yourself to only one or two. One of the best parts of making your mental health kit is that you’re in charge of what does and doesn’t make the cut!
Planning the Contents of a Mental Health Kit
First, you need to decide how you want to design your physical kit. A few good ideas include a chest, special drawer, or tote bag. It should be easily accessible, somewhere close to you, like under your bed or next to your desk.
Then, you’ll want to assign different items to different purposes, depending on what you feel you might need on any given bad day. A few examples of emotions you’ll want to elicit include something to:
- Sooth you.
- Inspire you.
- Ground you.
- Be in the moment.
- Something you cherish deeply.
- Last but not least, essential resources for bad days include your therapist’s number, your parent’s phone numbers, the number of your best friend, a group therapy address, and mental health resources or hotlines. These serve as reminders to let you know that there’s always someone to call for help.
Journaling Tools and Writing Prompts
A little notebook or journal, your favorite pen, and a small card with simple writing prompts – one-liner questions that give you a starting point for a journal entry – are good ways to get started with your mental health kit. Journaling is an excellent way to refocus and apply lessons of mindfulness in practice through writing. You can also slow your thoughts down by putting them on paper rather than typing them out or thinking too fast.
Journaling can be a way to sort through your thoughts on bad days, but it can also be a way to cherish and be grateful for how you feel on your good days. You don’t have to grab your kit only when you’re feeling anxious or sad.
These don’t always work for everyone, but sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right affirmations. Pick a sturdy material you can pick up and repeatedly read, like a card or a plastic coin, and print some of your favorite personalized affirmations on them.
They could be cute movie lines you remember and like, short aspirational quotes, or affirmations on your strengths as a person, whether you can nurture, your resilience, or your ability to get back up.
Motivational Music Playlists
Music can be a powerful tool, both on good and bad days. If there are certain songs you like best for any given emotional state, consider making some different music playlists and including them in your kit in the form of handy little QR or NFC chips.
These are easy to print out or program with your phone. You can refer to them to quickly pop in your favorite songs and sit back, whether you’re in the mood for something upbeat, cheery, positive, and inspirational, or themes to mellow you out, bring you back down to earth, and help you counter negative thoughts.
Happy Video Playlist
Aside from music, another good idea is a QR code for a playlist of YouTube videos to cheer you up, from funny or cute shorts to moments in movies that you like revisiting, memes, or your favorite moments from different content creator’s videos. You can curate and expand your list over time, letting it evolve with your tastes.
Hotlines and Important Numbers
Like a physical first aid kit, your mental health kit should include a couple of significant numbers that you can always refer to if you’re ever in trouble emotionally. Sometimes, a soft reminder to call your parents, partner, or best friend can turn things around. Certain hotlines and your therapist’s number can also be important as emergency numbers.
You Don’t Have to Make It Alone!
A mental health kit can be as straightforward or as complicated as you want it to be. But if you’re not up to the task initially, it’s always a good idea to ask for help. A parent or friend can help you pick out the best tools for the task – whether it’s something to help you when you’re anxious, make you feel a little better when you’re depressed, or help you cherish the moment on good days.