Creating an after-hours self-care toolkit

 Here at LETSS, we understand that evenings can be difficult for people experiencing mental health issues (after all, that's why we're here between 5pm and 11:30pm every night!) Evenings are usually the time when we're most likely to be alone with our thoughts, and we have less options available to help make us feel better. After all, it's difficult to visit a friend at midnight, or go for a mindful stroll through the Botanic Gardens at 3am! Plus, feelings of loneliness and boredom can often exacerbate our symptoms.

Below are a list of self-care suggestions for when you're struggling with your mental health at night time, or are just looking for something new to try while you burn the midnight oil.You may find some strategies more or less useful, depending on the mood that you're in. For example, if you're feeling low and unmotivated, choosing an activity that brings you joy may be most useful. In contrast, if you're feeling 'spaced out' or disconnected from what's happening around you, choosing to engage with objects that stimulate the senses may be more effective. As with much of our mental health journey, it's a process of trial and error!

Have a look at this list and pick out a few activities that you may find useful. Some may require you to make small purchases, like buying a colouring-in book or a scented candle. Think of this as an investment in your mental health; in the same way that seeing your doctor or getting a prescription filled is. I also strongly encourage you to have your self-care toolkit stocked and ready to go before you're feeling distressed – that way you'll be better able to cope with whatever life throws your way.

  • 1.Create self-soothing box, and fill it with objects that engage the five senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste). Some ideas are scented candles, relaxation putty, a slinky, bubble bath, a soft toy, photographs of fond memories, tea bags, or your favourite sweets.
  • 2.Re-read or re-watch one of your favourite books or television shows. It won't require as much concentration as following the plot of something new.
  • 3.Think about your current mental health needs. Write down a list of your concerns and questions to take to your next doctor's appointment.
  • 4.Think about a new skill you would like to learn (for example, a hairstyle, DIY project, or a vegetable to plant) and watch an instructional YouTube video.
  • 5.Get creative while getting troubling thoughts out of your head and onto paper, using words, images or colours.
  • 6.Sometimes strong sensations can give us the jolt we need to reconnect to the present moment and our surroundings. Try taking a hot (or cold) shower or bath. Pay close attention to how the water feels hitting your skin, and notice the sound of the water hitting the shower screen.
  • 7.Download a mindfulness app or some recordings of grounding techniques from the internet.
  • 8.Plan a holiday to your dream destination. Where would you stay? What places would you be most excited to visit?
  • 9.Purchase a jigsaw puzzle and challenge yourself to fit 10 pieces every evening. If you find yourself on a roll, there's no reason to stop!
  • 10.Download or create a list of writing prompts. Get swept away by your imagination while writing a short story.
  • 11.Look through some old photo albums and try to recall, with as much sensory detail as possible, the memories that the photos depict.
  • 12.Find a new recipe that uses some of your favourite ingredients and plan to buy the ingredients and cook the meal during the week.
  • 13. Go through an old drawer or cupboard that you've been meaning to clean out for years. You never know what you might find in the process.
  • 14.Google a historical event that intrigues you, or a historical figure that you admire.
  • 15.Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has had a positive influence on your life. Writing it is the important part; whether you send it is up to you!
  • 16.Sometimes just a small change of scenery can do wonders for our mood. Spend some time rearranging your bedroom. Make bedtime more appealing by creating a place where you feel safe and secure.
  • 17.Check out the LETSS blog to see what has helped our peer workers in their mental health journey

(image from Unsplash by ​Susan Holt Simpson)

Life is great so why am I sad?
Having a Mental Health Model

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We would like to Acknowledge that the land we provide a service on today is the traditional lands for the Kaurna people and that we respect their spiritual relationship with their Country. We also acknowledge the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the Adelaide region and that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still as important to the living Kaurna people today.        


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