It’s a tough time to be a sensitive-type. I, for one, am still waiting for the grown-ups to show up. Oh, that’s right: I’m a grown-up. And I’m right here.
So, in the interest of looking for things you can do to help alleviate anxiety, calm frazzled nerves and/or bring down the poofy-tail, here are some suggestions I have for ways to soothe yourself in stressful times:
You probably saw this coming. Have you DONE a puzzle lately? It’s like meditating without having to feel like you’re doing it wrong. Puzzles are reasonably cheap, can be found anywhere (including the grocery store) and can be done alone or with pals.
Including cats, who really like to help. By laying across the puzzle and looking at you.
Puzzles cause us to slow down, concentrate on something, be in the moment and get a sense of accomplishment. These are good things for frayed nerves. They are also as quiet or rowdy as you want them to be, but I prefer quiet or music when I do a puzzle. Soothing.
If you simply don’t want to focus on something specific, there are a zillion guided meditations out there to try. Guided meditations are great because all you have to do is listen and follow along to the best of your ability. If your mind wanders, fine. If you get frustrated, that’s okay. If it helps you slow down or feel a bit more calm and centered, that’s a win.
If you like apps, I recommend Insight Timer. You simply search for a guided meditation that looks like a topic you’d enjoy (anything from healing meditation to anxiety to self-compassion) for the amount of time you think you’d like to try (5 minutes? an hour?).
You could also simply Google “guided meditation” and find ones online, easy-peasy.
There’s no way I can recommend specific music to listen to, because we’re all wired differently, PLUS we have different moods and needs, so I’ll just say, pay attention to what you could really use in music. Sometimes it’ll take some experimenting. Try upbeat music first — songs that usually make you pretty happy. If that’s not matching what you need, try sad music, angry music, aggressive music. If none of the usual works for you, sometimes it can be useful to try something really different. If you never listen to classical music, for example, that may be a jolt to your system, in a good way. Think of it like a movie soundtrack. They illicit our emotions, so figure out what emotions you want to illicit and get that soundtrack.
I know, I know, not everyone is crafty, and I’m not talking about channeling Martha Stewart here.
What I AM saying is that it can be highly useful, in times of stress and fatigue and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, to do something tasky that gets you an objective result at the end. It can also be fun to go through the process of making a thing — including going to get the materials needed. When we give our brains and bodies something concrete to focus on and complete, it can satisfy that part of ourselves that needs to do something.
Bake a cake. Make a friend a card. Knit a scarf. Make homemade iced tea. Frame a photograph you love. Draw a cartoon. Create a scrapbook. Paint a self-portrait. Fuss with a hairdo. Craft felt succulents and give them away to everyone you know. Paint your nails and then build an outfit around that. Build a table or shelf or something out of wood. Organize a room the way you want it. Buy googly eyes and stick them in silly places that will make you laugh.
Just go for it.
Much like music, this is extremely subjective, so I can’t help you on which comfort movies to watch, as that’s different for everyone. (I find “Jaws” extremely comforting, but I’ve never met another person who feels that way.)
Is it a comedy movie? Is it sci-fi or horror? Is it from an era when you were a kid, or in college? Pick a movie that feels like you’re holding a mug of hot chocolate and wrapped in a blanket on the most comfortable couch you’ve ever sat on. That is your comfort movie.
What the hell is a mindful walk?
I’m so glad you asked!
A mindful walk is when you really pay attention to the feel of your feet on the ground, the sounds of the chattering birds or the rustling leaves, the sensation of your arms swinging through the air…. Or just pay attention to your breath as you walk. Any of these are ways you can mindfully walk. Be in the moment. Think to yourself, “Right now, I am walking.”
Research shows that being in nature and moving our bodies helps our mental health. So it is certainly worth trying, isn’t it?
Any ideas I didn’t think of? Send them my way! [email protected]