How to Make a Self Care Box

A self care box is a great way to give yourself some rest and relaxation. Think of it as a special tool kit for your mental, spiritual, and physical health. Pack it with things that make you happy, help you cope with tough emotions, or just help you wind down after a long day. There is no right or wrong way to make a self care box—whatever helps you manage your mind and body is perfect!


[Edit]Choosing a Box

  1. Decorate a shoebox to use as your self care box. Instead of tossing an old shoebox, recycle it into something you can use! Layer the outside of the box in decorate paper or cut out images from various magazines to make a collage. You can use also use paints, markers, or glitter glue to make it your own.[1]
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    • Decorating the box will transform it from something ho-hum into something special.
    • The benefit of using a shoebox is that it’s super easy to store under your bed, in your closet, or in any small nook.
  2. Use a decorative storage box or basket. Go to a local home goods or gift store and peruse some of the decorative boxes and baskets they have. Or, if you have a bunch of baskets stored in your home for holiday decor, use one of those. Pick one that’s large enough to fit all of your preferred items but not so large that you can’t store it in a place that’s easily accessible.[2]
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    • For instance, if you want to be able to slide the box out from under your bed, select a box or basket that’s not too tall.
  3. Pick a smaller container or pouch for portability. If you want to use your care box on the go, choose a small tupperware container or pouch that you don’t plan to use for other purposes. A large makeup bag that you no longer use is perfect to fill up with goodies and store in your car, work desk, locker, or day bag.
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    • Note that you may want to focus on miniature items (like lotions and small writing pads) so you can fit all the items you want.
  4. Upcycle a cardboard shipping box. Reuse any cardboard boxes you have laying around from past moves or online orders. Wrap the outside in decorative paper and drape some pretty cloth along the inside to give it a special touch.
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    • You may want to reinforce the bottom of the box with duct or shipping tape so it can support any heavy items you might put in it.

[Edit]Selecting Sensory Items

  1. Include hand or body lotion for calming self-massages. Choose a lotion that has a pleasant, calming scent for the maximum chill-out effect. Giving yourself a little shoulder, neck, hand, or foot massage may help calm any anxiety or other intense emotions you might be feeling. Self-massage is also a great way to wind down at the end of a stressful day![3]
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    • Travel-size lotions are a great option if you’re making a small, portable self care kit.
    • Avoid getting a push-pump lotion because something might hit the nozzle and you might end up with lotion inside your care box.
  2. Treat yourself by putting spa and beauty items in the box. Put soothing face masks, peels, makeup, nail polish, and hair masks into your box to give yourself a tranquil mini-spa day. Taking the time to beautify yourself is not only relaxing, but it can promote positive thinking (e.g., “I deserve this!” and “I am beautiful inside and out!”).[4]
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    • Turn off your phone, light some candles, set up a comfy place for you to lay down, and put on calming music to give yourself the full day-spa experience at home.
  3. Store your favorite scented candles in the box for aromatherapy. Scented candles can be a powerful tool for refreshing your mind and calming your emotions, especially if you use them in tandem with other soothing actions like meditation or a bubble bath. Aromatherapy can help ease any stress or anxiety and help you wind down for a good night’s sleep.[5]
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    • If you can’t or don’t want to have an open flame in your room, consider packing some small bottles of essential oils in your box instead.
    • Lavender, pine, vanilla, rose, jasmine, and sage are all great scent choices to chill you out.
  4. Place your favorite bath bombs and bubble baths into the box. Give yourself the gift of a calming bath soak to ease your body and mind. Bubble bath gels, bath bombs, and soaking salts are all the perfect items to put into your box to remind you to slow down and enjoy some time in the tub.[6]
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    • Studies have shown that a soothing bathing ritual can help relieve depression, anxiety, and anger. On top of that, soaking in the tub will relax any physical aches and pains you might have.
  5. Pack a soft blanket and cozy socks or slippers into your box. If snuggling up on the couch makes you feel safe and relaxed, include a soft blanket or some cushy footwear into your box. If you still have a cherished childhood blanket, that’s a great addition to your box![7]
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    • A blanket or slippers probably won’t work for a small portable box, but you can still pack the cozy socks if you feel the need to warm your toes (and your spirit!) while you’re away from home.
  6. Toss a stress ball into your box to squeeze away your worries. Purchase a stress ball or make your own by filling a balloon with rice or flour and tying it off. Studies have shown that squeezing a stress ball can help decrease anxiety and increase focus and attention.[8]
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    • A stress ball can also act as a fidget to help you stay focused at work or on-the-go.

[Edit]Including Emotional and Intellectual Elements

  1. Make a list of your favorite songs and podcasts and put it in the box. Listening to your favorite power jams can brighten your mood almost instantly. Choose songs that uplift, energize, and empower you. As for podcasts, include some that remind of you things you care about (like art, spirituality, or crafts).[9]
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    • For instance, guided meditation and yoga podcasts are a great way to chill you out when you’re feeling anxious.
  2. Keep a few of your favorite books in the box. Revisiting a cherished book can help you slow down and get in touch with yourself and things you care about. Pick books with positive messages like spiritual texts, positive psychology or self-help books, poetry compilations, and heartwarming classics.[10]
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    • If you’re using a small box or portable pouch, you can probably find pocket-sized versions of your favorite books so they don’t take up a lot of room.
    • Adult coloring books are a great option to focus your mind and bring your stress levels down.
  3. Write down positive affirmations on note cards. Write some of your favorite inspirational quotes or sayings on cut-up strips of craft paper, sticky notes, or small note cards. These are helpful to look at whenever you’re feeling depressed, unmotivated, sad, or anxious.[11]
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    • To choose your sayings and affirmations, think about what might lead you to go to the care box. For instance, if you feel anxious most days of the week, you might write: “I am safe, I am loved, and every breath I take fills my soul with light and ease.”
    • If you have some letters of encouragement from friends and family, feel free to include those instead of or in addition to your own affirmations.
  4. Collect photos of friends and family to remind you that you’re loved. Store printed photos of loved ones in the box either secured in an envelope or in a photo album. Looking at the faces of loved ones can remind you how much you are loved and supported and quell any sense of loneliness you might experience.[12]
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    • For instance, if your Grandmother has always been your biggest fan and confidant, you might include a photo of her or of the two of you together.
  5. Store a diary in your box for journaling and self reflection. Keeping a journal and some pens in your box is a great way to incorporate self reflection into your self care regimen. Make it a special journal that you only use for self care (i.e., don’t use it for scheduling or random notes that don’t have to do with self care).[13]
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    • Consider dedicating a section of the journal for purging your emotions and reflecting, another section for affirmations, and another for gratitude lists.
    • If drawing or sketching helps you ground yourself, get a blank-page journal without lines and stock up on markers or colored pencils.
  6. Place any religious or spiritual items into the box. If your religious or spiritual practice includes small totems or other items, place those into the box. That way, you can have easy access to them whenever you feel the need to pray or meditate.[14]
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    • Prayer beads, finger symbols, small statues, holy books, printed lines of scriptures, crystals, incense, and sage sticks are all great options.
  7. Include everything you need to set up a meditation altar. Put anything you use to meditate into the box so you have everything together and accessible. Incense, small statues, candles, crystals, essential oils, singing bowls, finger symbols, and a zafu (meditation cushion) can all enhance your meditation practice.[15]
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    • Meditation has been proven to improve your psychological and physical well being. It’s especially helpful if you struggle with anxiety, depression, or addiction.

[Edit]Adding Items for Your Physical Wellbeing

  1. Stash your favorite snacks in the box for a tasty, feel-good treat. Giving yourself a little treat can uplift your mood and be an act of self-nurturing. Dark chocolate, nuts, salty chips, and baked goods are great options to give your brain and body a little boost.[16]
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    • Even just a square of dark chocolate (the size of a matchbox) can release serotonin and other “happy molecules” that can help lift your mood.
    • If you are prone to emotional eating or have an eating disorder, avoid putting snacks in your box so you aren’t tempted to engage in any disordered or destructive behaviors.
  2. Load your box with calming and refreshing teas to sip some serenity. Lavender, holy basil, chamomile, and kava kava tea are all great calming herbal teas. If you’re in need of some refreshing energy, opt for green tea, white tea, or citrus tea to perk you up.[17]
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    • The act of drinking a warm liquid is soothing and can help you get in touch with your inner state.
  3. Include tissues in your box for whenever you need a good cry. Sometimes a hearty crying session can make all the difference, so keep some tissues in your self care box for the times when you just need to let it all out. If your box is cramped for space, get a small packet of tissues that won’t take up much room.[18]
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    • Studies have shown that crying actually slows your breathing and promotes the release of endorphins, helping you relax and feel better.
  4. Finished.
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  • Store your self care box in a place free of clutter or other things that might stress you out.
  • If you live with other people, make sure they know your self care box if off limits—it’s for you and you only! If you want to share items with them, go ahead, but make sure they know they can’t rummage through it without your permission.
  • Take a moment to brainstorm what makes you happy if you’re undecided about what to put into your care box.
  • If you often need reminding to slow down and take time for yourself, put your box in a place where you can see it (like your desk or bookshelf).
  • Consider writing a letter to your future self and storing it in your box to be opened on a particular day or at a particular event.


  • Don’t store any perishable or previously opened snacks in your box long-term because it might attract ants and other critters!