Five Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

Five+Tips+for+Taking+Care+of+Yourself

You know the feeling. Everything seems to be piling up, but you can’t quite focus on any of it. The world outside is terrifying and overwhelming, and you just want to hide under a pile of blankets. You know you have work to do, but even the thought of attempting it seems like it’s stuck behind a brick wall, and so you just keep doom-scrolling as the work keeps piling up and getting more and more intimidating. Everything is frustrating you for no reason. You’re not sure what you’re feeling, but you know you aren’t feeling right.

With everything going on in the world right now, it’s more common than ever for crippling emotions to come in and get in the way of whatever we want to do. So I’d like to share with you five things that I’ve found to help me when I’m stuck in a rut of emotions.

Are you procrastinating endlessly, even though you have work to do? Tackle something small. Put down your phone. Think of one thing that you need to do that feels manageable. Maybe that’s replying to an email, or working on your homework for just five or ten minutes, or washing dishes. Force yourself to do it. Even if that ends up being all you do that day, at least you did something productive. And getting something productive done can also jumpstart you being able to tackle other things you need to do, while at the same time, feeling much more manageable.

Are you feeling miserable or hopeless? Listen to music that makes you happy or calms you down. Make some playlists! Or if you aren’t a playlist-making kind of person, find some playlists instead. Maybe they’ll have music that makes you want to dance, or music that puts a smile on your face, or music that relaxes you. Whatever songs you have there, try listening to them whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or upset.

A collection of some of the pictures in one of my soothing Pinterest boards.

Are you feeling upset, like everything is out of your control? Visualize or look at pictures of places that make you happy (real or imaginary). This might sound weird, but it’s actually one of the most helpful things I’ve found for when I’m upset in any sort of way. Depending on my mood, I’ll open a new document and free write about an imaginary place, scroll through a Pinterest board I’ve made, or simply imagine myself being there. The two places I like to imagine are an old, cozy library, with bookshelves reaching up to the ceiling, armchairs strewn wherever, and hot mugs of tea; and the middle of a dense forest with sunlight dappling the leaves, barely reaching the ground, laughter drifting on the wind, and a mysterious cottage nestled in the trees. Even writing that one sentence just now made me a little bit calmer! Apparently, spending time in nature has been proven to help calm us down. If you’re like me, you might not want to get out of your chair and physically go outside, let alone travel to a natural environment like a forest or park, so imagining being there is the next best thing.

Are you stressed or stuck in a rut? Move your body (exercise, yoga, walk, dance, etc). When you’re stuck in a rut, it can be hard to make yourself get up and move, but it can be really helpful. There is something about moving your body, no matter how you do it, that is really great for clearing your mind. Bonus points if you go outside and get some fresh air! Scientifically, physical activity (especially aerobic activity) releases endorphins (happy chemicals) and reduces cortisol and adrenaline (stress chemicals), so it really does help.

Do you just feel off, for no reason in particular? Have a snack and drink some water. I know that everyone always tells you to drink water, but it really does help. If you’re feeling crabby, it might be because you’re hungry or dehydrated, and even if not, it won’t hurt (though of course you should listen to your body). If you just can’t focus, drinking some water might clear your head. And even if the food or water itself doesn’t fix your problem, the simple act of getting up and getting some might shake you out of a funk.

A few other ideas:

  • Meditate
  • Guided imagery
  • Take a shower
  • Spend time with animals
  • Enjoy something that makes you laugh
  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Hug someone (it releases oxytocin, which is a calming hormone!)

I hope these tips are helpful next time you find yourself stuck in a pit of emotions! Let me know in the comments below or email me (mf0998963@k12.shorelineschools.org) if you have any other ideas for tips I can include in future articles.