Everything is Terrible: Tips for Self-Care

Hi friends. It’s been a rough couple of weeks (slash months…slash years) in the world. There have been hurricanes and earthquakes and mass shootings and wildfires, disasters both natural and political, the stripping of rights and the exposure of decades of sexual harassment. The avalanche of bad news is overwhelming and incessant, and it’s easy to want to just curl up in a little ball and pretend like none of it is happening. Chalk this up to a bad timeline, block the dumpster fire from view, and hide under the covers until it goes away.

This is, however, both impossible and discouraged — impossible because we live in a digital world, with a blitzkrieg of updates streaming past our eyeballs at all times (also, some of us have jobs that require us to be immersed in the news…sigh), and discouraged because we have a responsibility as human beings to take care of each other, to lift each other up when we are knocked down, and to fight to make this world one that doesn’t make us want to hide. All that fighting and supporting can get exhausting though. It’s hard to hold on to the rope of human progress when it burns your hands and the tugs backward toward injustice get strong. And in this struggle, it is vital to take care of yourself. After all, you can’t help somebody else up if you’re struggling to keep your own balance.

These are some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way, as we wade through the toxic soup that is 2017. I hope they help you, too. And if you’ve found other methods you like, please leave them in the comments below! We will get through this together, with empathy and kindness and really yummy smelling candles.

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– Take a hot shower or bath. Let the water wash away the stress and pain. Get yourself a soap or shower gel that smells really good; you can even go full aromatherapy and let the healing notes of lavender or jasmine wash over you. Want to take it to the next level? Get yourself a bluetooth shower speaker so you can blast some of your favorite tunes while the steam works its magic. Mine was the best $15 I’ve ever spent.

– Make yourself a giant mug of tea, preferably decaffeinated. I like to drink mine from a mug that I got at a craft store in New Hampshire. It reminds me of a place I love and a time I was relaxed. Also, it holds an absurd amount of liquid.

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– Lean into the hygge. Turn on the twinkly lights or light a really delicious-smelling candle (or both). Find the softest, snuggliest blanket you own. Forgo real pants. Get your snuggle on.

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– Do some yoga. Classes at a studio can be great and provide a sense of community, but lately I’ve been a fan of yoga videos. They don’t require going outside, they are not subject to any particular schedule, and they’re free. My personal favorites are the Useful Yoga series from Tonic, and Yoga With Adriene (Her recent video “Yoga for After a Disaster” is particularly well-suited to 2017 anxiety, balancing healing poses with mindfulness and meditation; also, it features a cute dog).

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– Get out of your usual surroundings and go see something green. Sometimes it’s nice to go with friends. Sometimes it’s nice to go alone. But either way, the best way to pull yourself out of the ditch of despair is to physically leave your niche. And in my experience, doing so in a place where you can see the sky and the trees is the best reminder of how much beauty there is in this world, even amidst the bullshit.

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– Seek out art, whatever that means for you. Maybe it’s a painting or a sculpture or a light installation. Maybe it’s a great book. Maybe it’s a TV show. Maybe it’s a podcast or a favorite movie. Find something that reminds you how creative and silly and empathetic and brilliant human beings can be.

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– Put on an uplifting song and dance around. As Scout and I have stated many times, there are very few ills in this world that cannot be cured — or at least alleviated — with a kitchen dance party. Whether you’re by yourself or with a friend, let the music flush all the pain and misery out of your brain. The sillier the dance moves, the better. (Need an uplifting, danceable song? Allow me to suggest our January 2015 Playlist: A Shot of Vitamin D.)

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– Hug someone. Hugging releases oxytocin; lowers your heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels; and reduces anxiety. It’s a scientific fact.

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– Spend time with those you love. The news may make you want to hide from the world and all its horrors, but even something as simple as sitting on a park bench with a friend and talking can be enormously helpful — whether you commiserate over your terror and anxiety or distract each other with other topics. It’s harder to feel overwhelmed and terrified when you’re not alone.

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– When you can’t unplug, whether because you are professionally obligated to be online or you just have trouble disconnecting, and you find yourself getting sucked into a Twitter black hole, follow some of these accounts, which all bring regular doses of cuteness and light to your feed: @CuteEmergency, @EmrgencyKittens, @dog_rates@RedPandasDaily, @tinycarebot.

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