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15 Self-Care Ideas for When You’re Feeling Down

15 Self-Care Ideas for When You’re Feeling Down

I suck at self-care. I don’t get it. Am I supposed to take care of my physical biological needs? I already do that. Am I supposed to go buy myself a coffee, sit down and journal for an hour each day? Who’s supposed to watch my kid during this? Get a pedicure? As if I can afford that. Rub my own feet? Unsatisfying. I’ve had many counselors and friends explain and re-explain the importance of self-care to me, and I’m finally begin to understand how significant it really is for my emotional well-being.

Here are my favorite 15 self-care ideas for when I’m feeling down.

1. Write

Get a journal that you keep handy to write whatever you need to. Sometimes it’s helpful to slow down and write about a problem, fear, struggle, or memory. Writing by hand will help you to slow down and process your situation more fully. But sometimes you might not want to write about the struggle or pain. It’s too difficult. So if you’re feeling like it’s too raw to process, just write about your day or make a list of your favorite candies or movies. Just write.

2. Talk to a friend, family member or even pet!

Verbalize your pain. Making yourself speak out loud about your emotions will help you to not isolate yourself or allow yourself to spiral into an emotional tsunami that is hard to escape from. If the situation feels too personal, just share it will your dog! I’m certain Spot will keep your secret, and in my experience, my dog is sometimes the very best comforter. (And she’s certainly the least judgmental listener I know!)

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3. Cry

Let the tears flow. The best way to take care of yourself is to let yourself feel the emotions you need to feel. Bottling up your sadness or anger is not going to help you move past it. If you plant pain, you grow bitterness.

4. Move your body

You’ve heard it before: exercise releases endorphins and “endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!” (Elle Woods, Legally Blonde) If you can get yourself to do some yoga or go for a run, then you will seriously be doing yourself a service. But sometimes, just a walk around the block is enough to care for yourself when you’re feeling emotionally raw.

5. Shower

The shower is a place to be alone and focus on yourself without forcing yourself to engage the deep stuff if you don’t want to. You can mull over your parents’ divorce in the hot water, or you could focus or lathering up your shampoo. You need both and both are good you.

6. Make food

Don’t just eat, but make food. Cooking is a tactile and productive activity that will nourish your body and mind. The physical act of caring enough to make yourself a meal is a practical way to show yourself some love.

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7. Blow bubbles or color

As juvenile as it sounds, blowing bubbles or coloring in a coloring book are simple, easy ways to ground yourself in the reality of your situation and relieve some stress. Allow yourself to return to childhood activities and feel a lightness return to your spirit. These are also great activities to engage in if you experience panic attacks or PTSD related flash backs.

8. Deep breathing

Practice breathing in for 8 seconds through your nose and exhaling for 8 seconds through your mouth. This conscious effort to slow down is a great start to gaining perspective. Plus, the added oxygen to your brain will help you calm down, lower your heart rate and quell rising stress levels.

9. Interact with an animal

Scientific studies have shown that interacting with an animal will lower your heart rate, drop your blood pressure and reduce stress. Care for yourself by caring for your pet! Your pet will thank you for it, and you will benefit greatly as well!

10. Sleep

It is not uncommon for people to slog through life on five hours of sleep or less. Our bodies are not created to thrive on so little sleep. We need a chance to turn off and recharge and if we aren’t given that opportunity in sleep, our physical and emotional health will struggle. I am extremely guilty of not giving my body the rest it needs. If I’m having a bad day or my emotions are getting the best of me, I can almost always point to the poor sleep I got the night before as the culprit. Make rest a priority and give yourself the gift of sleep.

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11. Have boundaries

Boundaries are not popular in today’s culture. We often over schedule ourselves and over commit out of a sense of obligation to others. But if you aren’t able to bring your best self to the table then you aren’t doing anyone a service by overexerting yourself. Establish healthy boundaries with your calendar, your work and your relationships. Give yourself the time you need to take care of yourself so you can better take care of others.

12. Cultivate a hobby

Teach yourself to knit. Buy a scrapbook. Start a blog. Attend a class where you drink wine and paint. Create a hobby that is just for you and brings you joy. Having an intentional activity in your life that serves no end other than to bring you happiness will go a long way to foster healthy self-care.

13. Try something new

You can care for your mental health by challenging your mind to learn and expand. You will give yourself a boost by pushing your boundaries and stepping outside your comfort zone. Take a new route home from work. Go to an ethnic restaurant you’ve never tried. Learn a language with Rosetta Stone. Challenge your mind and it will be grateful for it.

14. Meditate or pray

Accessing your spirit/soul through meditation and pray is essential to holistic human health. Allowing yourself to really think about your values and beliefs will help you to feel more solid in your identity. Even if you don’t unlock the Truth of the Universe, or completely understand God or Divinity, giving yourself to space to engage with those big questions will go a long way in your emotional and spiritual life. It’s okay to not have all the answers, but you have to start letting yourself ask the questions.

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15. Hug someone

Hug someone, or hold hands with a loved one. We need physical touch. We are hardwired to physically encounter other people, and our culture is becoming more and more digitized which is eliminating opportunities for essential non-sexual human contact. Let yourself linger in a hug from a friend or ask your partner to give you a non-sexual back rub. We need more of this kind of contact in order to be healthier and happier people.

This list is just a start! Begin the practice of consciously taking care of yourself and you will never regret it.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Emily Myrin

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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