If you’ve been feeling down lately, you may be in need of some self-care.
What is self-care? I define self-care as any healthy, loving activity offered to yourself in order to allow the body and mind to reset and recharge.
These self-care strategies are not for simply “cheering up” or “fixing” your low moods. Instead of trying to eliminate these feelings or provide a short-lasting relief, these techniques will allow you to connect with your feelings and recharge your energy for a greater sense of acceptance and peace.
Try any of these 11 activities when you feel the need to reset.
The quickest way for me to soften into my feelings and find comfort in the moment is to shift to my breath.
Simply breathe in and out as slowly as you possibly can. Be careful not to force the breath, as this will create more tension. For added relaxation, close your eyes. Do this for several breath cycles, until you begin to feel a sense of ease and opening.
2. Take a walk in nature
To me, nature is an instantly calming and relaxing environment. Even if you can’t head to the nearest hiking trail, taking a walk around the neighborhood works fine, as well.
In addition, I find comfort sitting near a body of water or watching the sunrise or sunset.
Breathe in the fresh air and feel the earth under your feet, forever supporting your every step. Take this time to be at ease and relax into your feelings (more on this in the next step).
3. Sit with your feelings
This is the easiest, yet also the hardest coping strategy. All you have to do is sit there and remove yourself from all distractions; however, our brains love distractions. You’re basically meditating – but it can be counterproductive to call it that, because when you’re “trying” to meditate “right”, you can produce a mental distraction from what’s present.
So, just sit there and feel the energy in your body. You don’t have to try to do this. Whatever you allow yourself to feel, you allow yourself to release.
Additionally, when you sit with your feelings, you learn not to fear them.
For something more guided, you could try Actualized.org’s guided meditation on YouTube.
4. Find a positive intention or mantra
A positive intention is different from an affirmation. An intention is meant to anchor you and guide you. It’s a phrase you return to when you need a reminder of what you really want to feel.
Try taking some time journaling about what you want to feel right now. Or, even better: what do you wish someone would say to you right now? What could someone say to make you feel better? Write all of that down.
Pick a statement that both feels true and resonates with you. In other words, choose an intention that feels like a reminder, not like a lie. Write that phrase down somewhere you’ll see it regularly: put it in your planner, or on a sticky note on your bathroom mirror. Comfort yourself with these words throughout the day.
5. Practice yin yoga
Yin is a slower, gentler style of yoga which has you hold a stretch for several minutes at a time. This is my favorite style of yoga, due to its powerful relaxation effects. Some feel a natural “high” after practicing yin.
It’s perfect for tuning into your breath and sitting with your feelings, as well as releasing tension and energy stuck in the body.
Try this 30-minute practice by Yoga With Adriene. You don’t need any props but a blanket and pillow, and no yoga experience is necessary.
6. Watch these YouTubers
These people are not only YouTubers; they’re motivational speakers, teachers, and healers, and they have all helped me tremendously. Depending on your beliefs, you may prefer some of these more than others, so take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.
Even if you don’t own a journal, get out a piece of paper or open a Word document, and just start writing. Write about anything and everything without filtering yourself. No one’s going to read it. Just get it all down.
8. Make a gratitude list
This one might sound cheesy or cliche, but like anything else on this list, you just have to try it for yourself. At the least, it’ll begin to get the happy chemicals flowing, and shift you a notch towards a mindset of abundance, as opposed to scarcity.
Try writing down everything that’s going right in your life, even if it’s the smallest thing like the breakfast you ate.
9. Write a love letter to yourself
Seriously. It sounds ridiculous and maybe even cringey to make yourself do this, but it could just work for you. This of course works especially for those who struggle with insecurity and low self-esteem.
There’s no rules or guidelines for doing this, but it helps to offer yourself compassion for whatever you’re feeling presently.
Try to say whatever you’d say to your own child. For example: “Sweetheart, I understand. It’s okay. I’m here for you whenever you’re feeling sad.” It’ll feel especially strange if you’re not used to or comfortable with hearing these statements from others, but that’s a good sign that you can benefit from this exercise.
Remember, you always need more love, not less.
10. Talk to someone
Yes, this one sounds particularly obvious, maybe so obvious that we tend to overlook it. We tell ourselves to be strong. We remind ourselves that everyone else has problems, too. We are terrified of burdening anyone.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather listen to a loved one’s problems for hours, than unknowingly have them suffer silently in pain. So, tell someone whom you trust how you’re feeling. It may be scary, but you’ll surely feel better once you realize how supported you are, and once you don’t have to pretend to be “fine” around them.
Our greatest pain often comes from hiding how we really feel.
Throw away all of your beliefs about crying being “weak”. It takes strength to let those energetic emotions out of our systems.
Even if you’re not totally comfortable crying around other people, that’s okay. Take time to yourself alone in nature, or in the shower. Watch A Dog’s Purpose and just let it out.
Remember – what you’re feeling, you’re healing. And crying is a perfect way to sit with and release whatever you may be feeling. Don’t try to contain your emotions. Find a place where you’re completely comfortable to sob and bawl.
When you’re done, try journaling about it, or doing any of the other things on this list. You’ll feel better and recharged afterwards. In addition, remember how strong you are for being able to tolerate the painful release of those emotions, and for continuing to help and heal yourself afterwards.
If you’re doing anything to help yourself, you’re already much stronger than you think.