Earlier this year I wrote about how you can help a friend in need (click here if you haven’t seen it) and now on the flip side, I’ve decided to do a post about how you can help yourself.
As most of us know, there are times when you pro-actively choose to take yourself out of life for a little while. There are also times when life hits us with an unexpected blow, chosen for you by the unsettling word that is ‘fate’.
There’s no “professional” or “qualified” perspective here. In my view we can all learn and gain encouragement with a bit of help, advice and experience from others. Sometimes you just have to go through the motions of a rocky road – experiencing the shock, grief, pain and/or sadness – in order to bring yourself out the other (and more positive) side of life. As a recent fortune cookie told me: “You gotta get through the deep valleys before you can reach the highest mountains”.
Here are my top 10 tips and tools I’ve recently tried and tested to aid with all things calm, mindfulness, motivation, positivity and post-recovery (slowly) and all to help with looking forward and returning to normality. I hope this post is of use to you all – whether it’s for yourself or to aid a loved one during a recent rough time…
1 – Social Media detox
Social Media is a huge part of my personal life, work life and blog life, and the thought of coming off it was a little scary. Remove the distraction and temptation to know what’s going on in the outside world – especially to avoid seeing posts that are mundane, boring, annoying or the opposite of helpful to what you might be going through.
I deleted social media from my phone for about a month and it felt liberating! You learn who your closest friends are when you don’t use social media as your only form of communication/interaction – and even more so if you have been unusually quiet in the public domain for a while… Should you wish, it’s also an opportunity to cleanse your friends and page lists to follow and interact only with brands and ‘friends’ you genuinely care for.
2 – Make a “To Do List”
Nothing beats the self-rewarding feeling of ticking items off a ‘To Do List’. It makes you feel like you are making progress with your recovery, your life and your mind set, and to know that your hours are not being wasted slumped on a sofa watching Jeremy Kyle (sorry Jez).
Catch up with your personal admin, write that letter of complaint you’ve been putting off, print photos for those frames you bought months ago, make a batch of muesli to save spending in costly coffee chains when you go back to work, catch up with your bank statements, clear out your bathroom cabinet, book your upcoming hair, waxing and dentist appointments etc. Whatever your list consists of (and when you can cope with facing it) being able to highlight and tick off what you have done is a feeling of success and strength. But don’t rush yourself to complete it, set yourself small goals, even if it’s ticking off one small item a day and gradually increase the number of tasks.
3 – Friends and family
You may initially want to block out your entire world and hold on to your own trauma, but it is true that it is “good to talk” (or text!). Talking to your nearest and dearest really can help during times of need.
You don’t even have to share details with them, but just to engage with them helps to ease the pressure and pain. Caring words, sensitive advice as well as distracting (but welcoming) news from their own worlds helps to know you have the support you need.
If you do choose to share your woes, the overwhelming feeling of love and friendship is beyond touching – with meet ups for hugs, cups of tea, chats and tears, or just by keeping in regular contact talking about any old chat.
4 – Enjoy a spot of pampering
For me that includes having a hot bath with some Red Roses bath oil by Jo Malone, giving myself a deep-cleansing facial, using a body scrub and then drowning my skin in some luxury Jo Malone body crème (Red Roses of course!).
Depending on your recent experience, I also recommend trying treatments such as reflexology and acupuncture – they’re *apparently* good for restoring and rebalancing the body and can help relax the mind too (I know we have to take Chinese Medicine with a pinch of salt). If facials, manicures and body massages are your thing also, then go for it – make yourself feel good again. Massages are great for boosting circulation (scientifically proven!) – a great excuse in my opinion!
5 – Have a good cry – anytime!
It’s actually okay to cry, and it feels great afterwards! I’ve never been one to shed tears or have full blown sobs in front of friends historically, but holding in the emotion for me encourages a migraine and builds up unwanted emotional tension.
Letting it all out is a feeling of genuine release, and helps to lift away a feeling of pressure, even if a bit at a time. So if you feel like you are welling up in front of a friend – just lean on their shoulder and have a sob, trust me you’ll feel better for it. Or if you are overcome with emotion in the shower or even by putting your shoes on, then don’t hold back that weep.
6 – Get some fresh air
Fresh air is pure genius! Whether it’s a 5 minute walk to the shops or an hour’s stroll, nothing beats the outdoors and the fresh air to help clear the mind and get the body moving again. A dose of fresh air can also aid with relaxation and sleep later in the day.
Put in your earphones or just enjoy the silence if you can, and be sure to wrap up warm and go slowly if you are recovering from recent trauma – remember to not push yourself. Perhaps build it up by a few minutes every day, and if you are delicate, take a friend with you to hang on to!
7 – Buy yourself some flowers
Let’s face it – the world is a far prettier place with flowers. Even buying a simple and inexpensive bunch of daffodils and tulips to decorate your kitchen table not only makes you feel that spring is here, but will brighten up your life a little.
8 – Netflix
There is always a new series to binge-watch! I recently enjoyed Grace & Frankie (I heart Jane Fonda!) and I have not long started Brooklyn Nine-Nine which is funny and easy-viewing. When my brain was in need of greater focus I watched Making a Murderer (which was fascinating!) and I have just finished season 4 of House of Cards (so good!).
9 – Gentle exercise
Whether you were fit beforehand or not, a spot of (gentle) exercise helps to make you feel strong again and better about yourself – physically and mentally.
If you were a runner, perhaps add in a few 30-second jogs whilst you are enjoying an outdoor walk. I’m not a qualified fitness guru, but a realist who listens to their body. Just remember to never push yourself until you’re ready.
Why not try something different? Whether it’s bopping at the back of a Zumba class (the music and moves are fun!) or a Pilates class to promote good strength, posture and mindset. Trying something new gets the brain working (having to concentrate!) and keeps it interesting rather than sticking to the same old routines. I’ve stuck with both Zumba and Pilates and am really enjoying them every week.
10 – Put happiness in to action
And finally…what makes you happy?
Like, REALLY happy?
If it’s your friends and family, then make plans to see them (but don’t push yourself in to cramming too much in to your diary – you’ll end up feeling exhausted). Feature photos of them around your home and stick photos to your desk or wall divider at work of your happy memories with them. I have created a new “wall of happiness” at work featuring photos of my friends, family and Dolly (my cat).
Wear your favourite perfume for that special and sentimental feeling – it’ll make you feel nice!
Bake something you love. Especially something like a batch of flapjacks that can last for days and are bite size for you to enjoy a little treat every day – you deserve treats right now! Try these…(click here).
Plan your next adventure! Visit a friend in another city/country, plan your next beach holiday with your partner or book a getaway with your friends. No matter how soon your next adventure may happen, it’s always exciting knowing you have something to look forward to.
I hope this post is of help to you or a loved one, thank you for reading (if you’ve made it this far!). 🙂 Please let me know your comments and other suggestions on how to help yourself after a rough time.