Methods of making myself feel better often depend on what is making me feel poorly. If I am physically sick, my body will tell me under no uncertain circumstances that sleep is my number one priority. But being sick can also be emotionally straining, and while sleep is nice, other things actually make me feel better in that way. Cozying up on the couch with my cat and a bowl of ice cream (vanilla, with chocolate chips that get all crunchy from the cold) is always comforting. Having a heavier blanket over my shoulders creates a feeling of security and often helps to soothe those days of vague yet pervasive panic. Sometimes what I need is just a really good cry, unglamorous and exhausting as that can be. Other times I need to move, to get up and get dressed and force myself out of a stagnant apartment and my own emotional inertia. Underpinning many of these practices of self-care is the need to be grounded and brought out of my head — to silence the buzzing static noise of my anxiety and try to more authentically engage in the world around me. Some days this is simply not possible, and I think coming to terms with and accepting that I won’t always be okay is, ironically, also part of how I feel better.
— Emily Campbell
As a human being with fluctuating emotions, there are some days when I do not feel good about myself. This, as a result, affects my day and my interactions with the world. Fortunately, I have some things that make me feel better on those types of days. When my mind is driving me insane, I usually turn to physical activity to shut my mind down. Even if it is running for 10 minutes or walking for half an hour, physical activity takes me away from all the thoughts in my head and helps me focus on my body. Another activity which instantly makes me feel better is writing down exactly what I feel, instead of talking it out. Every time I sit to write down what is bothering me, I instantly get relieved. Moreover, having the ability to look at my emotions on paper rather than having them clustered in my head helps me acknowledge my feelings and find a way out of those negative emotions. The last thing which I am sure helps every individual feel better is feeling appreciated. Even if I am having a horrible day, knowing that someone truly appreciates me makes me feel better immediately.
— Leyla Seyidova
There are so many days when I get overwhelmed with, well, life. I know I have to take a break when the days start to blend into each other. The first thing I do is yoga. It helps release tension in my body and boosts my mood and confidence. Even if I do this for an hour, I feel calmer and more relaxed. I also love movies. If I’m sad, I’ll watch Disney movies (the animated ones) because their predictability is soothing. Cartoons are fun, and sometimes it’s OK to be a child. Other times, I will clean my room, as unbelievable as that sounds. Sometimes decluttering my room helps to declutter my thoughts. Self-care is super important and should always come first. So grab a book, make some tea or workout, watch TV and just relax. Take a mental break to feel so much better.
— Ishita Verma
- Here are a few things I do to quickly feel better when I need a short-term mood-booster to help me get on with my day:
- Take cold and hot bath plunges. I learned about this from my time in South Korea, where the gym I used was directly above a traditional Korean bath house. After scrubbing yourself clean, you sit in a scalding hot bath for 15 minutes, then jump into a frigid ice-cold pool. The result is that it shocks me out of my depressed mood and I feel almost instantly calmer, happier, and more clear-headed. Since not everyone has access to a traditional Korean bath house, alternating with hot and cold showers does the trick.
- Show up to a hot yoga class. I do both hot and non-hot yoga, but I find the heat and extra sweating helps me leave the studio feeling calmer and relaxed than traditional classes.
- Take an improv class. I signed up for Rapid Fire Theatre’s beginner improv class when I first moved to Edmonton, not sure of what I was getting myself into. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. The instructors have tons of games and exercises that are designed to make you stop judging yourself so that your natural humour just starts flowing out of you. Besides that, I enjoy the socializing, laughing, and being engaged for three hours straight, whooping and hollering, imitating a monkey, and generally behaving like I’m in kindergarten.
- Have an impromptu dance party in my bedroom. This gets me into a more positive and productive frame of mind, and it really works. I go in my room, put on some music that gets me pumped up, jump up and down and yell and clap my hands and make noise for three minutes. Then laugh hysterically for 10 seconds. I do this two or three times and never leave in a down mood.
I’m one of those people that does not know how to talk about my problems. I try, and my attempts always end with me saying “nevermind, I don’t know what I’m talking about” and laughing off my awkwardness. So for me, there are a few sure-fire ways to get myself out of a slump that might work for you too.
- If it is possible for me to run away for the day, I like to invite my favourite adventure buddies and go on a trip. We pack up some of our favourite snacks and take off at 5 a.m. towards the mountains. If it’s the winter time, we bring snowboards or some skis. Last time I did this, I did the Yamnuska hike just outside of Calgary. I was too busy huffing and puffing to be upset anymore; when I reached the peak everything felt so small that my problems felt pretty small too. If running away isn’t possible, I surround myself with some beautiful scenery and taking a deep breath. Reminding myself that whatever I’m going through can be dealt with, and I never have to deal with it alone if I don’t want to.
- Since running away isn’t easy, I also like to do my favourite hobbies. Sing, write, play an instrument, buy a colouring book that swears, whatever I need at the time. And if I feel overwhelmed because I keep procrastinating, I write a list of what I need to get done just so I can see that maybe it’s not as bad as I think.
I’ll leave you with something my mom always tells me that has truly helped me out throughout my life: if it won’t matter in five years, why worry about it?
— Brittany Burridge
Cover graphic by Thai Sirikoone.