Living with a long-term health condition is hard. Every day seems the same with juggling the ordinary daily tasks of life with the many symptoms and other effects that chronic illness imposes on our body. There are so many demands on our bodies, which is why self-care is so critical to our overall well-being.
Self -care can take many forms. Relaxing, participating in a favourite activity or hobby or just taking time out to enjoy a luxurious bubble bath are some ways which we can take time for ourselves to rest and unwind from the stresses of life with chronic illness. And self-care is also important to help elevate your mood and provide a little light and happiness from the darkness that chronic illness can sometimes create.
I’m writing about a special brand collaboration, which I thought would be beneficial for those like me, living with a chronic illness and finding that it has an adverse impact on their mental health, suffering from stress, anxiety or depression alongside their physical health problems.
The brand in question is called The Distraction Box, started by the lovely Rachael and Samantha. I did a little Q and A with Rachael, one of the founders behind The Distraction Box about the inspiration behind the company and about self-care.
- Hi Rachael, Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourselves and your business The Distraction Box
Distraction Box was founded by two female business women, Rachael and Sam. Rachael was forced to leave her high-flying career in Marketing due to health challenges. After major spinal surgery, serious complications and a subsequent diagnosis of a further two nasty chronic illnesses, Rachael’s life changed dramatically overnight. Rachael has to work really hard on her health to participate in life – including her emotional health. That’s where the business idea came from – passion and personal learnings.
Sam is a Dr of Physiology who has a particular interest in the effects of stress on our physical health. Sam has also had to live with depression since the age of 17 so also had to work hard on her emotional health. Both founders share a passion for emotional well-being so we thought we’d make a great team!We launched the business in October 2016 and position ourselves as a well-being subscription box for the mind. We also have one-off boxes which are great for gifts for loved ones going through hard times. Our subscription packages are available for those who want to invest in their emotional well-being on a regular basis. We encourage people to invest in their emotional health and not just their physical health. We have a monthly, 3 monthly and 6 monthly subscription packages and each can be cancelled at any time and very easily.
- Where did the inspiration for The Distraction Box come from? It’s a great name! How did you decide upon it?
I used to be an athlete and had the belief that you could do anything in life, as long as you were prepared to work hard enough, and if your heart desired it. Then, 6 years ago I had a major health challenge that changed my life. In a nutshell, I suddenly had physical limitations that meant I had to change my life completely and found myself not being able to do ‘what I wanted when I wanted.’This affected my emotional well-being, and I was struggling to cope with grieving my old self, and the frustrations with my new life. Thankfully I was offered counselling to help me with my emotions – and I found the courage to embrace it. This was the start of my journey with coming to terms and accepting what life has thrown at me, and even changing my mindset to help. During that journey, I joined a health group which focused around teaching people how to live with chronic illness.One of the tools I was taught was how to create distractions from physical pain and/or the emotions that come with living with an illness that affects your everyday. I created my own Distraction Box filled with items that comforted me, helped ease physical symptoms, or simply cheered me up when I was struggling to remain positive. I love creating my own Happy Distractions and felt that more of us should create them in our everyday lives. We all face stress and pressure, but not enough of us take the time to ‘switch off’ or manage overwhelming emotions in a positive way.
- How do you decide on the products you select for the boxes? What are your favourite products that have been inside your lovely boxes?
Both of the founders spend a lot of time researching the right products that we feel would create happy distractions. We can’t pick many favourites as we love them all (or they wouldn’t be in the box). However, we love JustBe Botanicals, Re-Mind notepads and the slate heart of self-love which was featured in our February box.
- Self-care is a big deal within the chronic illness community. What are your favourite ways to relax and unwind?
I have too many ways! I can’t say a specific favourite, but I do love water. I’d say visiting the pool – even if it’s for a float to take the edge off my pain, or to go for a swim and build strength, I love it. I have regular hot baths too and have different bath bombs and oils depending on what mood I’m in. I also meditate once a day if I can – I love finding out where my mind will take me that day!
- What do you hope to achieve with The Distraction Box? We hope to spread a little happiness across the UK and beyond, but with an important message; emotional well-being is just as important as physical health. Working on the mind is a strength and not a weakness – we are so passionate about that.On a practical note, we are hoping the boxes will raise enough money to set up ‘talkitout’ which will change the way the UK view talking therapy. Watch this space…
I was sent a box for myself to unveil and review for the blog.
The Distraction Box for March was based on the theme ‘Hibernation to Happiness’ which was essentially all about stepping out of the hibernation period of winter and into the lighter, brighter days of spring.
The box arrived after a long night of insomnia as a result of chronic pain, so just receiving the box was enough to cheer me up. Upon opening the box, I was greeted with a little green parcel which contained all of the month’s goodies. It was beautifully packaged and wrapped with care which made me appreciate receiving it even more. It felt special like having received a special gift for Christmas or a birthday. With the goodies was also a little booklet which outlined the theme for the month and a description of all the goodies contained in the month’s subscription box.
One of the first things that I noticed after opening the box was a gorgeous citrus scent from the Beefayre ‘Bee Happy’ Tea Lights that are scented with orange and jasmine essential oils. It immediately lifted my mood and helped me to relax despite feeling uptight after a night dealing with pain. One of my favourite ways to relax and unwind in the nights is to read or watch something on my iPad while I light a scented candle and so I really loved receiving these. And they are natural which is a bonus!
I have previously mentioned that the recent popular craze of adult colouring is also becoming a favourite form of self-care for me when I am feeling anxious or just need to distract my mind from the all-consuming symptoms. So, I was ecstatic to receive a mini Mindful Colouring Pad with colouring pencils! They are sweet, and the best thing is that both the colouring pad and pencils are pocket sized – perfect for slipping into a coat pocket or handbag to take out on trips, such as hospital appointments so you can take a little time out from your thoughts or anxiety.
Also, in the box was Birchall’s Green Tea and Peach Infusion Tea Bags and the BakedIn Gluten-Free Mug Brownie Mix, both ideal for those who are health conscious and want to look after their physical well-being as well as their emotional health. I’m not gluten intolerant myself, but again the thought of Rachael and Sam for those who may have such intolerances really shows their understanding of such concerns within the chronic illness community.
I love writing handwritten letters to friends or other special people in my life. And I also love to receive handwritten letters, in my opinion there is nothing better than to receive a thoughtful handwritten letter in the mail and which feel a lot more personal than an email or text message. Which is one of the reasons why I participate in a project called Spoonie Post whereby every month you send a letter or card to a fellow chronic illness warrior to say hello or to cheer them up during difficult times. In this month’s box was two cards with envelopes which I will be able to use for this project and brighten someone’s day!
And finally, and probably my favourite item from this gorgeous and positive box was the Happy Mug (perfect to enjoy the green tea and peach in). With simple colours, and finished with a rose gold detail it has a beautifully inspiring and positive quote that we should all aspire to every day. I’m not a big hot drink fan, but I am sure that I will enjoy using this mug during times of self-care in the future.
I loved this subscription box, and all the little goodies were perfect for taking the time to invest in my emotional well-being and for anyone else also living with the effects of a long-term health condition. I know in the US and Canada various companies have subscription boxes specifically for those with chronic illnesses, but nothing similar here in the UK (although The Distraction Box does ship worldwide). However, I think The Distraction Box has this niche market in the bag and would definitely invest in a box in the future during a bad flare or maybe even buying it as a gift for someone going through a difficult time.
If you would like to try out a one-off Distraction Box or are willing to invest in your emotional well-being and sign up for a monthly subscription for a Distraction Box, then go and visit their website and use my code ‘brainlesionandme’ for a 10% off your first box/subscription and enjoy the benefits of their take on self-care for yourself.
And let us take a look at your enjoyment of your own Distraction Box by using the tag #HappyDistractions!