We all know what a care package is, even if we haven’t been to summer camp or been swept up in a natural or manmade disaster. It’s a box of food—blessed food, much-needed supplementary nutrition, typically high in calories—with a side of non-edible treats.
Nothing was more welcome when I was a burnt-out undergrad (I say that like I also spent years as a burnt-out graduate student, but no). I was always working three or four part-time jobs—babysitter, housemaid, caterer, and para-actuary (not a real title)—and attending classes full-time, so you can imagine that I hit the wall every semester or so. When I did, my self-care emergency plan was as follows:
- Get up and pull on some sweats.
- Drive my uncool vintage Chevy Suburban to the supermarket.
- Get in the checkout line with a bag of donut holes and a pair of paperback mysteries, creating an instant Self-Catered Self-Care Package.
- Drive back to my apartment, get back in bed, and stay there until I’d finished both books and all the donuts, and I felt like moving my body again would actually be nice.
I couldn’t really afford to do this on a day I was scheduled to work. The Self-Care Package shipped very rarely, on days when I would be missing nothing but class (priorities!), and only when I was at the very end of my rope.
In other words, pretty much how I do it today. Of course, I know how to Use My Words With Friends, and make sure I’m staying hydrated and getting enough protein, and do all the other things Oprah would be glad I’m doing. I mean, there are plenty of things we can do to reduce the frequency and severity of self-care emergencies, and I do them! And I hope you do too.
There will still be times we come to the very end of our rope.
Those are great times to grab hold of our cookie of choice, our no-heavy-lifting novel, or anything else that feels like relief and delight, flip the “Open” sign to “Closed,” and give ourselves the gift of a break when we’ve really got to have one.
As the gods of timing would have it, today is a very good day for a self-care package in my world: a Jonathan Keller mystery and some leftover birthday cake. I’m going to go break that out right now.
If you have more ideas for easily rustled-up self-care packages, pop them in the comments below!
Tip: This is a recipe easily doubled or tripled. If you’re putting together a package for Present-Day You, take another minute and make one for Future You, and another one for your friend in need.
Maybe there’s a sexy international thriller tucked in with that fruit.
Image: Petronella Elias with a Basket of Fruit, Ferdinand Bol, 1657, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Used with permission.