Emergency Self-Care Kits: How To

Emergency self-care looks different for everyone, but that doesn't make it any less important

Imagine this. You wake up one morning, and you already have a pounding migraine – or your joints are on fire – or your depression is weighing you down in bed. You know, objectively, that self-care is important. But you have no energy to fill up a glass of water. So, what do you do? Whether you suffer from migraines, chronic pain, mental illness, or COVID fatigue, self-care is integral! Emergency self-care kits take the guessing and work out of self-care when you’re already at your lowest.

Why Emergency Self-Care Is Important

When a natural disaster destroys your home, prevents you from leaving your home, or isolates you from resources and other people, you are thankful you took the time to create that emergency kit.

Countless people struggle daily with illnesses or conditions that leave them feeling as those an earthquake tore down all their walls.

An emergency self-care kit, rather than giving you tools to survive a natural disaster, gives you the resources you need to survive a particularly rough day.

When a tornado strikes, we still need to eat, drink and stay warm. When a depressive episode knocks you flat, basic self-care is still necessary! But, much like it may be more difficult to find food or water after an earthquake, meeting your basic self-care needs when you are depressed takes a lot of energy.

A self-care kit is critical in reducing the amount of energy required to practice self care.

This concept spans a variety of conditions, such as chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, fatigue, and much more! Even if you don’t have a diagnosable or chronic condition, an emergency self-care kit can make all the difference on those days that you feel blah.

Emergency self-care kits make all the difference on days where you feel "blah"
Photo by Nick Fewings

When we address a problem quickly and easily, the enormity of that problem decreases. By having our comfort items close at hand, it is easier to cope with the pain that seems unending. Self-care improves wellness, and wellness is integral to a happy life.

Emergency self care is important for everyone, but it is critical for those battling chronic conditions.

The Emergency Self-Care Kit: What Does It Look Like?

Do I really have to say it?

Self-care is unique to every condition, situation, and person. Likewise, your emergency self-care kit should be tailored to your needs. If you are struggling to think of ideas, there are countless lists on Google!

Luckily, I have taken the liberty of creating a list that may help you start your own.

Basic Self-Care

On a particularly rough day, it’s easy to not drink water. It’s easy to forget to eat. It’s easy to say you don’t need to shower. Basically, it can be really easy to eschew basic self-care. That’s why it is important to include basic self-care items in your emergency self-care kit!

  1. Water/Juice: hydration combats a variety of conditions. Migraines and inflammation can be triggered or worsened by dehydration. When we don’t drink enough fluids, our brain becomes slow and fatigued, which can exacerbate depression. Drinking liquids in the morning and throughout the day is a must for self-care!
  2. Snacks/Fruit/Jerky: likewise, food is also a basic need for survival. We need three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. When we don’t eat, our energy plummets, and many bodily functions (like the immune system) suffer. I know that I get quite “hangry” when I don’t eat, and many other people feel the same way. If nausea is part of your condition, keep saltine crackers in your kit instead!
  3. Open a window: okay, so this can’t fit in an emergency self-care kit. But, it is just as important! We need fresh air. When we curl up in bed with our door shut tight, the air quality of our bedrooms suffers. Opening a window is a sure-fire way to increase airflow, protect your lungs, and bring energy into your room!
  4. Hygiene: you can technically survive without a shower, but showering goes a long way in improving mood. If a shower seems like too much of a task, draw yourself a bath, or take the time to wash your face and hands. Brush your hair if needed, and definitely brush your teeth. Put on a brand new pair of pajamas (or preferred comfy clothes) and rest easy knowing you washed and changed.

Why We Need To Address The Bare Minimum

When it feels impossible to get out of bed, we have to lower our expectations of what is possible. Many chronic conditions are invisible. Sadly, many people fail to understand how chronic illness can impact a loved one’s life.

However, addressing our basic needs is integral to taking care of our body, even if we hate our body at that moment.

Moreover, when we are hydrated, fed, clean, and breathing fresh air, it becomes easier to recognize an episode as finite.

When someone we love is experiencing chronic pain, fatigue, or illness, our role as loved ones is to encourage them to meet these basic needs first. And, more importantly, to accept if that is all they are capable of in that moment.

Additional Self-Care Items

What items would you add to your emergency self-care kit?
Photo by Kaylee Brayne

Now, this is where the emergency self-care kit becomes more personalized.

Do you have compression socks, pants, or gloves for chronic pain?

Are your meds on hand for a particularly nasty migraine?

Have you gathered your favorite candle, a movie/book that always makes you laugh, or an extra fuzzy pair of socks? Perhaps you have a CD that you like to listen to, to distract yourself?

Remember, the goal of an emergency self-care kit is to make a bad day better. It may not be good, but if you can vent by writing in a journal for a few hours, that may improve your overall mood. Journaling isn’t for everyone though, so take the time to explore various self-care tactics.

I’ve recently begun to explore positive affirmations! These are basically kind or encouraging words that you speak to yourself throughout the day, and they can help interrupt negative thought patterns.

The Last Word on Emergency Self-Care Kits

When we, or someone we love, suffers from a chronic condition, it is hard. Oftentimes the narrative about medicine involves a cure or solution to a problem. But, not all problems can be solved by medical interventions. Furthermore, it can be especially difficult to want to practice regular self-care if you feel as though your worth is measured by your productivity.

An emergency self-care kit is not a cure. And it’s not meant to get you back to work that day.

Instead, this self-care kit is intended to make the worse days better. A self-care kit ensures you are taking care of yourself when all your energy is preoccupied by your current physical or mental state.

When we use an emergency self-care kit, it is important to practice patience and grace with our own bodies and the expectations we have of them.

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6 thoughts on “Emergency Self-Care Kits: How To

  1. Emergency self-care kits – what a great idea! And the power of an open window is often underestimated – great point!

    1. Hi Scout! I quite agree. Fresh air is greatly under-rated, and while it isn’t always easy to get outside, opening a window does make all the difference.

  2. I’ve honestly never considered putting an emergency self-care kit together in advance, but it makes perfect sense! What a huge blessing to have it ready to go at moments when you really need it. Will be trying this!

    1. Hi Lindy! I’m so glad to hear that this article resonated with you 🙂 I’m not the best at practicing what I preach, but it definitely makes a huge difference to have a game plan in place for those difficult days

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