It is a tired old cliché: the unhappy woman sitting alone or with a girlfriend, eating out of an ice-cream container with a spoon after she’s been disappointed by love. Many of us turn to “comfort” food when we are unhappy. But what if you could offer your best friend, or yourself, a better alternative to curling up with Ben and Jerry? You can! Introducing, “The Break-Up Box,” the new emergency kit for crisis moments.
Start with an ordinary box (ideally bigger than a shoe-box, so you’ll have more room to get creative with the contents). Feel free to decorate it with pretty wrapping paper, magazine clippings, ribbon, stickers, you name it. The idea is to make the box itself as cheerful and comforting as possible… so no hearts torn in half with jagged edges, got it? Then, you can move on to choosing the contents.
Here’s where it gets personal. Hopefully, you know your friend well enough to know what sorts of things come in handy when she's feeling down-in-the-dumps. You will probably come up with many more excellent options for filling the box, but to get you started, here are a few suggestions:
A Favorite (Happy) Movie
For some, it will be a feel-good movie that has no romantic theme like Billy Elliot. For others, a happily-ever-after romance like Moonstruck is soothing regardless of the state of their personal lives. If you aren’t sure which category will be best at any given moment, choose one of each. For me, Bollywood films can be an instant pick-me-up. How can you go wrong with all that gratuitous singing and dancing? Jodhaa Akbar is my favorite - an incredible epic romance full of amazing period costumes.
Pretty Nail polish
Watching a favorite movie while doing your nails is a great way to unwind and feel good about yourself. Your friend will be so distracted by her new 'Sunset Pink' or 'Pearly Purple,' that she'll be ready to laugh again. Instruct her to use some scented hand and body lotion to give her hands and feet a gentle massage after the nail polish dries. She can start with her feet and work her way up the calves to moisturize her legs, etc. Self-massage is a very effective relaxation tool.
Soaking tense muscles in hot water is a fantastic way to help your body to release excess tension. Choose a bubble bath in a scent you know she likes, or consider a fun new option, therapeutic gel bath, such as Athena’s Gel’n Bath; the water turns the powder into thousands of gel beads until you choose to add the dissolver, which then restores the water to detoxifying salt water. Whatever she adds to the bath, let it be calming and restorative to her senses. Encourage her to light some candles (throw some tea lights into the Box!), turn off or dim the harsh overhead lights, and allow her anguish to melt away.
Nice-Smelling Shampoos, Soaps, and Scrubs
Have you ever noticed how soothing it is to massage yummy scented shampoo into your hair? Origins Ginger Up Shampoo is great for those who want natural, organic ingredients in their beauty products. The bergamot, lemon and lime are refreshing to a dull mood and the coconut cleanser is gentle and non-stripping. Make sure she takes the time to enjoy those simple pleasures that we all so often take for granted. Every moment she takes to soothe the unnecessary tension in her body will encourage the restoration of her inner tranquility.
A Good Book
Along with the movies you’ve thrown in, you may want to add one of her favorite books. Curling up in a blanket with a good book is a lovely way to fit in some quiet time. Unlike television, most movies and all books provide entertainment without inundating you with ads. I particularly enjoy reading Historical Romance novels when I want to allow my mind to rest. She may even find that erotic literature, like Goddess Bedtime Stories, will remind her that life without that particular someone can be as satisfying as she chooses to make it.
(Bed and) Bath Toys
In addition to those steamy bedtime stories, dare to suggest she indulge in some saucier forms of sensual release. The endorphins released during orgasm provide a healthy lift in mood. The Lucky 7 is not only sleek and multi-speed, but it’s phthalate and latex free, and the Diamond Princess is small, dainty, and powerful, not to mention it comes in purple, black and red. There are so many options for spicing up her “me-time” that she'll be sure to realize she is not dependent on another person for pleasure!
Happy Music (NOTE: avoid songs associated with memories of the ex)
Add a couple of CDs to the box. Choose music that you find uplifting, restorative, or invigorating. Chances are she will too. If you've known her for a long time, throw in some childhood favorites or songs that she loved before you-know-who walked into her life. Music from an earlier era in her life can be a fun way to reconnect her to a grounded sense of self, reminding her of who she was before she ever met that certain someone!
Tea or Hot Cocoa
Find an exotic blend of tea to put in the box, something aromatic with silk bags and pretty packaging. This is a subtle way to encourage her not to drink alcohol which is so tempting after a break up, but which will only send her into a deeper depression when the high wears off! If she has a sweet tooth then she might prefer cocoa, but either way a warm beverages will help to calm her frazzled nerves.
Just like mani-pedis and hot bubble baths, facials are a healthy indulgence that is restorative to body and mind. Consider a throwing in the ingredients for a unique homemade mask. There are lots of recipes on the Internet – find one that makes sense for her skin type and have fun shopping for the ingredients. By creating a do-it-yourself experience, you'll be encouraging her to indulge in a spa-like atmosphere at home which will bring a restored sense of calm and inner quietude. The ending of a relationship can be very traumatic. That trauma often pushes us to forget how to care for ourselves, especially our bodies. Remind her to be gentle with herself and not to engage in self-blame!
Throw in a teddy bear, or blanket, or sweater to round out the box. She’ll want something nice and fuzzy when she curls up with that book or movie after her bath. I particularly love my bunny slippers and a micro fleece throw blanket. Choose an item to suit her personality. A cozy sweater can feel like a warm hug.
No matter what combination of helpful items you place in your friend’s Break-Up Box, she will feel much better for having soothed herself without resorting to self-destructive eating or drinking. If you can, urge her to begin to work in some meditation and yoga to aid in relaxation and the development of lasting well-being.
With time, she may find that the self-care tools you have given her to get through the break-up will help whenever she has a stressful day—regardless of the state of her personal life. The better we care for ourselves, the more whole we can be as individuals. That wholeness is what will allow for stronger, more satisfying future relationships.