I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. More often than not, you’re just setting yourself up to fail… usually by February. But, I did promise myself a few things at the start of this year. One of them was to be kinder to myself.
The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realised how hard I am on myself. I’m a pretty anxious person, who tends to overthink and work myself up into a state. I can be triggered by the smallest of things, which may seem like nothing to someone else, but has me worried for days on end. Panic can manifest itself in many ways, from feeling physically sick to getting emotional. It’s irrational and frustratingly uncontrollable.
But, I’m slowly starting to understand that some things are simply out of my control. And worrying about things you can’t control is exhausting, painful and most importantly, pointless. It’s hard to accept, but there are some things you just can’t force. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath, stop worrying about what might be and start taking care of yourself.
Your body will tell you when it’s had enough. Whether it’s through aches and pains or feeling run down, your body is telling you to take it easy. It’s true that stress can take a toll on you physically and I often find myself unwell through worrying about the uncontrollable. The best way to counter it is to be kind to yourself, for a change. I wanted to share some things that make me feel better, even if it’s just for future reference to myself…
There is absolutely nothing I enjoy more than spending time with my (brother’s) dogs. Penny and Bo are two adorable miniature poodles, who I love more than anything. Animals have the uncanny ability to know when you’re upset and their capacity for selflessness is overwhelming. I can hold Penny for hours and she won’t budge. Bo always has to sleep against your body to let you know she’s there. Whether it’s through play fighting or going for a walk, they never fail to make me smile. I miss these two the most when I’m not at home.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love music. No matter what I’m feeling, there will be a song out there to make me feel better. When I’m down, my favourite thing to listen to is scores. I enjoy piano pieces especially and try my best to play the keyboard in my spare time. It’s the greatest thing to get swept up in the drama of movie scores and just forget the world. Trust me, it works.
Things never seem as bad after a good night’s sleep. Sometimes there’s nothing better than getting into your PJs, climbing into bed and cuddling a heat bag until you drift off. Whenever I’m feeling particularly bad, an early night is often the only thing that will help. Putting my phone on do not disturb is the best way to call it a night.
Reading a book is the most solitary, and sometimes the most rewarding, thing you can do. It is a form of escapism unlike any other. You need to focus on the words and use your imagination, creating each character and scene in your head. Often the best way to forget about the world is to lose yourself in another. However, it has to be said that when I’m feeling stressed out, reading is sometimes the hardest thing for me to do. I simply can’t focus and barely make it through a few pages, before putting the book down. But, when I do get absorbed in a good book, it’s the most relaxing thing I could do.
Movies & Television
Often when I can’t focus on reading, I’ll default to watching something instead. I enjoy going to the cinema as often as I can and find it easy to get immersed in films. For instance, I could easily watch the extended editions of my favourite trilogy of all time, Lord of the Rings, back to back. To others, this would be Hell on Earth. I actually went to the cinema by myself for the first time recently and it was strangely liberating. When you realise that no one gives a damn, it’s a nice feeling. Of course, TV shows are also a staple in my life and I find myself rewatching old favourites to cheer myself up. I’d say I revert to Buffy the Vampire Slayer the most, because it is undoubtedly the greatest show of all time.
It’s true that often the best way to make you feel better about yourself is to invest some time in yourself. Even if it’s just going out for a walk with my earphones in, it can work wonders. Over the past year, I’ve devoted a lot of time to going to the gym. Particularly if someone has made me feel bad about myself, I’ll turn to self-improvement. This is a huge deal for me, who used to turn to self-loathing when someone played on my insecurities. Now, I find going to the gym and seeing a change in yourself is the most positive thing you can do. Of course, I still go through slumps where the thought of the gym is too much to bear, but I know I’ll feel better on the other side.
As someone who showers more often than bathes, taking a bath is a relaxing rarity. It’s a pretty clichéd thing to do to unwind, but it’s true that the heat helps your body get rid of those aches and pains brought on by anxiety. It’s even better to pop a show on my laptop and watch it from the tub. The ultimate chill out time.
When all else fails, a good cuppa can make your heart happy. I’ve recently discovered the joys of peppermint tea. Not only does it chill you out, it has genuine health benefits like aiding digestion.
It’s important to know what makes you happy. It’s even more important not to let other people dictate your happiness. Sometimes you have to be your own best friend. In the immortal words of RuPaul: