So one of my love languages is “Gifts.”
And it used to really annoy me.
Because growing up, my parents loved that book “The Five Love Languages.”
You know the one: the famous one.
Where that guy divides everyone’s expression of love into: quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, and receiving gifts.
And I’ve always fancied myself the type of person who would have a noble love language.
An admirable one.
Like… acts of service.
But every time that damn book would come up,
my parents would make a quick remark with this *knowing look* about “gifts” being my love language…
How could I end up with the LAME love language?! The materialistic one?! THE RUNT!
…Well, the problem was, I never really asked them what they meant. I just thought they were implying that I’m shallow. Or greedy. Or. I don’t know. But obviously they weren’t. I was projecting that fear onto their comments.
But the truth is: I do love receiving gifts. And I also love giving gifts.
I love thinking about gifts, laboring over gifts, preparing gifts months in advance;
and no matter how hard I try to play it cool,
Christmas IS a big deal to me. Birthdays ARE are big deal to me.
And no matter how hard I try to reign it in,
I’ll always go overboard when I’m making someone a care package…
and no matter how hard I wish for it,
I’ll never-oh-never be one of those chic trendy minimalists you see on Instagram in a shabby chic farmhouse with eucalyptus leaves tastefully strewn atop my bare kitchen table.
Okay that was more about my fear of being materialistic. And how I’ll never be a minimalist. HAH!
BUT, back to my point.
I still haven’t read the book… The love languages book.
But I HAVE read a wikipedia article on it. *tips hat and winks, thank-you-very-much*
And I HAVE journaled about the topic.
And that is enough for me to know:
Being a gift-lover is actually a GOOD THING!
Because it also means you’re a good GIFT-GIVER.
And now that I’m older… I can really see the value in that.
I can see now that it’s kind of like a superhero power, to be a good gift giver.
Not only does it make YOU feel good, it makes the RECEIVER feel good.
It shows that you know them, deep down,
You know what will bring them joy.
It’s like a puzzle, giving a good gift.
So I indulge myself in it now! I love to make gifts for my family,
I love to send gifts to friends far away,
I love to share my drawing, writing, knitting, baking.. all to bring a smile to the people I love.
(I even Co-Host an organization called FibreShare all about giving the gift of yarn.)
But the point of this meandering blog post is:
Recently it dawned on me…
Why am I not giving gifts to myself?!
(Just another obvious epiphany to add to my docket of self-care GENIUS.)
But seriously, it’s a valid question:
Why am I not making gifts for myself? How can I start?
What would I like? What would I need? What would nurture Beth?
Like, really nurture. Not just impulse-buy something on Etsy.
And the answer I found (for now) is:
Self Care Packages
I’ve tried making one so far, and it went really well.
So here’s the scoop:
Self Care Package for My Period
So I am one of those LUCKY women you hear about who gets her period while exclusively breastfeeding (starting at 6 weeks postpartum… WTF.). And ever since, I have struggled with intense mood swings and depression in the 4-5 days leading up to my period. In fact, it took me about 10 months of questioning if I had postpartum depression to realize that my period was steering a bulk of the the emotional wreckage. And while I do think I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety, (which is a blog post for another, much braver occasion…) I am received and delighted to discover that most of my emotional distress is manageable through self-care efforts. Especially in the week leading up to my period. SO, I made my first self care package: *period-themed.* And I’m happy to report: IT WORKED.
I’m sure I’ll add more to my package over time, but I wanted to start relatively small. So to get started, I went out on a date with my husband, and he patiently read techy articles on his phone while I took wayyyy-too-long to pick out a pretty box at Home Goods. HAH!
Step one: Get a pretty box. A special box.
Step two: Fill it with self-help items. Like these:
1. Red Nail Polish
This might sound cliche, but I decided to paint my nails red in preparation for PMS week. It’s not a color I would usually choose, so it served as a reminder through many little moments of the week, to be gentle with myself. To slow down and take care of my own needs.
It really did make a difference! If nail polish isn’t your thing, think about what might be an effective physical reminder for YOU. Something that will remind you to slow down and be patient with yourself. Maybe wear a different hairstyle. Maybe buy yourself a bracelet. Maybe just draw a dot on your hand. Just something small to serve as a secret reminder to heap on the TLC. And then add that item to your self care box to use each month, or as needed.
2. Essential Oil Massage Blend
I am not an expert at essential oils; I just think they’re fun to experiment with! And this month I made my own massage oil blend with oils that are supposed to support PMS and menstrual cramps: Clary Sage, Nutmeg, and Lemon. My husband kindly indulged me in some lower back massages during my PMS week, and it honestly did feel really comforting. So whether it was a placebo or it actually worked, I don’t care. I loved it! I drew a label for my massage oil bottle featuring the contents inside to make it feel extra special.
If essential oils aren’t your thing, think about what might be a comforting physical care item for your self care package. Maybe a hot water bottle with a hand-knitted cover. Maybe some luxurious lavender lotion. Maybe a pair of special walking shoes, if exercise helps your cramps. Maybe a bedazzled bottle of ibuprofen. Actually, that’s a good idea. I might have to buy a bedazzler. Hmmm….
3. Essential Oil Roller Blend
Similar to my massage blend, I made a roller bottle with clary sage, nutmeg, and orange. I actually really enjoyed this combo of smells, and it felt good to have something small I could grab when I needed a quick dose of self-care throughout the week.
So again if essential oils aren’t your thing, maybe consider something else small that you can indulge in over and over. Like maybe a special tin of mints you love. Maybe keep a lavender sachet in your pocket to smell when you’re stressed. Maybe make yourself a playlist of cheerful music.
4. Earth Mama Periodic Tea
I wanted to include some comfort food or drink in my self-care box. (Let’s be honest, I definitely considered wine, but I didn’t want alcohol to be a focal point of my self care package.) I make tea at least a couple times a day, so incorporating tea into my self care rituals is an easy win for me! This Earth Mama tea was new-to-me, and I did really feel that it soothed my nerves and my cramps. If you don’t like tea, how about a special water bottle to remind yourself to stay hydrated? Or an indulgent box of chocolates? It’s your PMS week. You do what you want, girl.
5. A Pretty Mug
I wanted to find a practical item that would remind me to slow down and be kind to myself. Since I drink tea and coffee pretty much constantly throughout the day, I decided to make my aforementioned essential oil illustration into a mug! I originally intended to keep the mug to myself, but it’s so pretty that I am selling them in my shop, too. Feel free to check it out here if you’d like! 😉
The point is, think about something small that you will interact with everyday, and get a special version for your PMS/Period week. Some other ideas might be a comfy bathrobe, a special journal, or what the heck – even a special phone case?!
6. An Easy Knitflix Project
Last but not least, I knew I needed a knitting project in my self care box. And nothing too complicated. I wanted something that I could mindlessly knit away at all week while binge-watching period dramas. ….PUN INTENDED!!! …Oh boy. Let’s wrap this up.
So I have a simple shawl W.I.P. (work-in-progress) that I stashed in my self care package. For future months, I’m toying with the idea of knitting a period patchwork blanket. Something I can stitch together after years of monthly self-care, and then wrap around my shoulders to give myself a big comforting hug. …and then someday, I can imagine myself warmly passing a patchwork blanket onto my daughter, when she starts her period. And I can help her assemble her own self care package, like a positive, beautiful right of passage!
But a shawl is a great project for right now. And after all, I’ve got 13+ years to figure out this blanket situation before my daughter is a teenager. BUT, if you don’t knit, maybe think about a simple pleasure you could tuck into your self care package. Like maybe a book of crossword puzzles. Or a set of watercolor paints. Or even a book to read! Something that you can look forward to doing during your period each month.
So, to recap:
- A physical reminder to slow down
- A physical care item to comfort your symptoms
- A small self-care item to carry with you
- A comfort food or drink
- A practical item that will remind you to slow down
- A simple pleasure
I hope this has inspired you to think about preparing your own self care package! Whether it’s *period-themed* or not, I believe it’s incredibly nurturing to think deeply about your physical needs and prepare proactively.
My goal is to prepare these boxes for myself over time, and to also prepare them with my family. For example, I’d like to prepare a *man cold box* for my husband. Which I know sounds like a joke, a mean joke, but it’s actually something we joke about together, and he would love it! Haha. And I’d also like to prepare a *teething box* for Violet. So stay tuned!
If you have other ideas for me to add to my period self care routine, please drop a comment below! I’m very keen to make my period more positive in any way possible. Not only for my benefit, but for my daughter’s benefit, when she joins the womanhood club someday.
Until next time,