N.B: If you are struggling with challenging emotions, please reach out for support. If you need to talk, call (UK & ROI) Samaritans – 116 123 (their new freephone number). (USA) Suicide Prevention Life Line – 1-800-273-8255. (Australia) LifeLine – 13 11 14. And check out: coping when feeling emotionally overwhelmed, packing your emotional toolkit, having a bad day? Head here, creating joy on bad days and 7 gentle, generous, restorative ways to feel better.
Put the lamps on to brighten the room.
Pick fresh flowers from the garden.
Burn geranium or rose oil to lift your spirits.
Imagine the blue sky above the clouds.
Make a cup of hot chocolate and breathe in the scent.
Get out of the house, in your mind or physically. Go for a trip, on your feet, in your wheelchair or through photographs online.
Get in the garden, or grow one with a seed packet and a windowsill tray.
Put on a nice dress, or a bright t-shirt.
Put in earrings.
Wear mascara. Cry first.
Make a playlist of your favourite happy tunes.
Cut up magazines or make a Pinterest board to pick a style which works for you.
Photograph every third thing you see.
Write the introduction to your memoir, why not?
Make a yummy cocktail with soda water and a mashed up strawberry.
Ring a friend, actually call them on the phone in person. If you haven’t got a friend to call email someone you admire and set up a Skype date. Try to find someone who makes you feel positive rather than someone who can drain your energy. If no one’s available, try Samaritans or a similar group.
Buy some rainbow sharpie pens, play with them.
Find a new radio station, go pink, or classical, or rave.
Have a go at a huge canvas or a tiny one.
Get under the blankets and be very warm.
Read all the nice things people have said, or your gratitude journal.
Order yourself a Healing Box.
Make progress on a project and give yourself gold stars.
Indulge with a novel.
Vintage TV shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer anyone?
Favourite children’s books, re-read them.
Tell yourself a story, invent characters.
Exercise to bad, cheesy music which makes you smile.
Paint your nails turquoise or teal, or copper.
Pin up glow in the dark stars on your ceiling, you can even get pink ones you know.
A single delicious indulgence – a magazine, something from your wish list, a massage.
Paint it out, embroider and turn your down day into art.
Play a game.
Read through the archives of your favourite blog.
Turn off Facebook.
Put a posy of sweet peas on your bedside table.
Visit the library, get excited about new books.
Set up a savings jar and put in a pound towards something you want.
Accept you are sad right now and look forward to tomorrow.
Wear body glitter.
Share with people who understand.
Micro volunteer and turn your struggles into hope for someone else.
Use lovely hand cream.
Make bread, or a cake, or order them fresh and enjoy.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t able to do as much as usual.
Meditate. Different meditations work for different people.
If possible, some form of exercise – walk the dog, yoga, swimming, gardening. Whatever works for you.
Make a list of things you’re grateful for / happy for.
Get your favourite things together and just ‘play’ with them. Favourite music, books, clothes, letters from loved ones etc.
Compile a Self-Care Kit. Maybe treat yourself with something from the shops, a collection of items and put them all in a box. When you need it, open it up and take something/everything out.
Remember you’re not alone.
Check your ‘to do’s for the day. If it’s not urgent, ask yourself if you could postpone it to give yourself more space.
Try to have a rough plan. Not more than you can handle, but just a rough guide of the day so you’re not looking ahead to empty space (basic meal times etc).
Be aware of the engrossing effects of things like television, computer procrastination etc. and try to avoid prolonged unstructured sessions.
Take one thing at a time and just breathe.
Some say a change is as good as a break. Trying out an often unused furniture throw, bringing in some plants from outside, maybe even wearing a nice coat or shoes around the house can put us in a different mindset. My vote is for the glitter gold stilettos or the vintage 30s sequin pumps my friend sent me.
Organise your problems, if it’s tomorrow’s problem then worry about it tomorrow. For example, if you know that you have to go shopping tomorrow and it is going to be an ordeal for one reason or another, don’t spend the day before worrying about it or you’ll miss out on enjoying the day that you’re in.
A pamper session in the bath can help – bubbles/oils, good book/music and a beverage.
Singing along loudly and with abandon to a CD in the car.
If it feels like it’s becoming a bad day, rather than fighting and resisting to make it a good day, sometimes it can help to write it off as a bad day, allow it just be and have a better day tomorrow.
Get the paints out and get creative. Maybe put some music on and engross yourself in a creative flow. If anything it will take your mind off other things. If paints are too much, close your eyes and paint in your head.
If your list of ‘to do’s is overwhelming, get a timer (kitchen timer or alarm on phone or watch) and give yourself a set time in which to do whatever you feel. 15mins to read or 30mins to do nothing. Make it your time. Some have found it more productive to do this than to do stressed-procrastination because the tasks are too daunting.
Don’t forget to keep busy in times when you are down and try not to be alone for long. It tends to be harder to fight the urges to cope in negative ways when you are alone and doing nothing.
Never give up on life.
Everything you keep “safe” for special days only, use today and every day instead and enjoy.
Blend yourself a new scent from essential oils you have in the house.
Magic up a face scrub from oats and almonds and vanilla. Put it in a glass jar with a lovely label.
Add ginger and fennel to sugar in a huge jar for a super scrub for toning legs.
Wear a fluffy jumper.
Stroke the dog, or the cat or watch the birds.
Make a new cushion cover and embroider with radical feminist embroidery.
Watch Romeo and Juliet and see the language used so beautifully.
Choose a new scarf.
Write, just keep moving your fingers, see what appears.
Plait your hair.
Exfoliate your legs very well.
Read fairy tales.
Learn how to say hello in different languages.
Write everything with a wax crayon. I like Crayola’s Jazberry Jam.
Head to the beach.
Open the encyclopaedia, read the first thing you see.
Pick really cool sandwich fillings or salad dressings for the next week.
Get new underwear.
Make your bed so there is a duvet underneath the sheet and on top. Enjoy the softness.
Plan a virtual world tour.
Re-read all your favourite author’s books back to back.
Give yourself reflexology.
Explore your area at night with torches. Cities are strangely beautiful in darkness.
Sequins, wear them, play with them, surround yourself with them.
Have tea from a proper teacup.
Give yourself a techno detox and enjoy my list of things to do on it.
Wear something on your head; a hat, a tiara, flowers, it changes the mood.
Find a new hairstyle, YouTube videos are super.
Set a budget and head to a shop, something tiny pens, bells, a sweet you don’t eat anymore but love the scent of. Dawdle and enjoy.
Read my Adventuress Manifesto.
Writer a letter to someone, if you don’t know who to write to, write to me! I love letters and I reply too.
“How to be happy when you are miserable. Plant Japanese poppies with cornflowers and mignonette, and bed out the petunias among the sweet-peas so that they shall scent each other. See the sweet-peas coming up. Drink very good tea out of a thin Worcester cup of a colour between apricot and pink…” – Rumer Godden
What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!
P.S Want more? Check out: coping when feeling emotionally overwhelmed, packing your emotional toolkit, having a bad day? Head here, creating joy on bad days and 7 gentle, generous, restorative ways to feel better.
P.P.S I’ve got a list of 500 Things to Do When Sick in Bed and Bored in my new ebook, Beyond the Boundaries: Finding Freedom & Fulfilment Within Four Walls. Self-Care Edition.