Dance/force self to laugh
This sounds so stupid, and honestly you’re going to feel ridiculous doing it. But I dare you to stand in a room by yourself, do a really embarrassing dance and not at least smirk. Granted you feel like a complete dweeb, but sometimes you just need to jump on the bed with your best friend and use a wine bottle as a microphone. It is totally okay – in fact, it is good practice – to be your own best friend sometimes.
I personally love comedy podcasts. My favourites at the moment are Bad News and The Ricky Gervais Show (which, despite the title, is only funny because of Karl Pilkington and Stephen Merchant). Personally I love listening to these on a train because it’s my own secret joke and I love it when people hear me laugh-snort and look around the carriage trying to work out why. Even if you’re laying in bed on your own feeling like shit, sticking on a comedy podcast means you’ve got somebody to make you smile and you don’t even need to feel like talking.
Forget the to-do list – do an un-do list
I’ll admit it – I’m pretty bad for making to-do lists. And the worst thing is that you make them in a moment of inspiration, and then when you look back over it having lost that feeling you realise you are really just piling pressure on yourself. Instead of listing what you should do, why don’t you focus on what you’d like to be not doing? Think about the poisons in your life, whether they are people or places or unhelpful thoughts in your own mind, and decide to just not put up with that shit anymore.
Send yourself flowers
In the words of Paramore, fall in love with yourself – because some day you’re going to be the only one you’ve got. It’s an old cliche but the most important relationship you’re ever going to have is with yourself, and that bitch is high-maintenance. Now stay with me on this one – but why not surprise yourself? Order some flowers, pick a random day for delivery and go ahead with the rest of your life. Boom, surprise flowers, and you didn’t even need to hint.
Hide if you need to – my hiding place is the bathroom
So sometimes we need to be a little bit of a ‘delicate fucking flower’, and it’s okay to recognise those days. Sometimes, it’s cool to literally just go and hide. Sometimes when my kids are too loud and my dog won’t leave me alone and I’m feeling totally claustrophobic, I just go and sit on my bathroom floor. I turn off the lights and everything, just take those moments in a darkened room to lower my heart rate again, get rid of all of that anxiety and start fresh. It doesn’t always work, but just giving yourself permission to hide if you want to can be really helpful when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Read anything and everything
Just pick something up and lose yourself. Zone out on cereal boxes. Load up a couple of blog posts. Read your favourite magazine (yes I genuinely did just do that. Don’t side-eye me.) or just scroll through your social media feed. Do what you need to do so that you no longer need to think. When I feel riddled with anxiety, I need something to occupy my mind and sometimes that can even be the back of a shampoo bottle if I need to be distracted for three minutes.
Write. It doesn’t need to make sense.
Honestly just getting words down can be a great distraction too. List what you do when you wake up in the morning. Write down words as they come into your head. Even if you end up with the back of the receipt just having “gumballs, origami, shoe” written on it, at least you had something to focus on for a minute or two. Side note, I’d personally take that receipt and leave it somewhere for somebody else to find, because can you imagine the confusion? At counselling I have been told to practice noting down every positive thing I do, too. Even the mundane, like “I smiled at a child at work”, and then note what that positive thing says about you. Could be worth a try for you, too.
Take yourself on a date
This goes back to that ‘treat yo’ self’ stuff I was talking about earlier, because your relationship with yourself really is that important. I’m not just talking pick up a sandwich and eat it on your own at lunch tomorrow, I mean make plans with yourself. I’ve gone to gigs on my own, to the cinema (granted, sometimes it was just because the cinema was half-way up a hill that my house was at the top of, so it meant I got a two-hour break and some ice cream!) or out for dinner and cocktails. If there’s an exhibition or event coming up, consider bringing yourself as your +1.
Clear out the bullshit. One thing, then two, then three
Bullshit can be clutter, or bullshit can be people. It can be family members who make you feel like they don’t care or it can be a desk you can’t even see anymore. Even if you pick up one old dirty coffee cup, you have improved that situation. Even if you mute that shady high-school friend on Facebook (or delete if it won’t cause drama!), you have made your own space better. Try one thing today, try two things tomorrow. Eventually, you are completely responsible for your own environment, and suddenly you’re thriving.