If I were a better, more honest person, I would deal with life’s pressures appropriately as they arise. That’s the kind of person everyone wants to be, right?
This girl tackles every challenge head-on. She keeps twelve different houseplants with varying humidity preferences healthy at the same time. She goes to bed at 9:30pm, moisturized but without so much moisturizer on that it ends up sticking her face to the pillowcase or getting in her eye. She wakes up excited to go out for a brisk morning jog. Maybe while she’s eating breakfast she catches an episode of This American Life: Ten stories about dogs who found business opportunities in unexpected places, and she thinks to herself, “Wow, that’s so me.”
Instead, I pretend I can shirk my mounting avalanche of ignored responsibilities by window shopping for vintage skirts on Etsy. As if that will fill the void! I pretend I don’t know I’m making a bad decision, when I really know exactly what I’m doing, as if I can fool myself! Inside my own brain!
The thing is, everyone does this sometimes. Bad habits may differ but the guilt, shame, and lethargy we feel after binging on something we know we shouldn’t have is pretty much universal.
This shame will get you nowhere. Heed my warning, traveler: You don’t feel awful right now because you’re a horrible person and you deserve it. You feel bad because you’ve been neglecting your needs. The good news is that the past is behind you and the glorious present is right here in your hands. What you need right now isn’t punishment or excuses– it’s a bit of care.
Believe me, I’ve been to disappointment-ville so much I made a goddamn map of the place. I have a pretty good idea of how to get out. These are all just suggestions–pick one or two things from each list, going in order, and you’ll feel at least a bit better in no time. Let’s blow this popsickle stand, shall we?
Slink out of your room and eat something, please. AKA: Physical needs.
- Drink a glass of water, or tea, or juice if you prefer. You need fluid!
- Brush your teeth.
- Splash your face with water and change into some clean clothes!
- Take a shower if you can. If a bath is easier, go for that.
- Have a snack. I prefer toast.
- Do five jumping jacks — or more if you can. Even better if you can go on a walk. Even just a little bit of exercise can do a lot for your mood and motivation.
- Is there a medication you take? Pop it.
Find a plant to water or a dog to pet. AKA: Emotional needs.
- Care for your pets, or even just say hi to the neighbor’s cat. They have pure hearts.
- Reread the first chapter of your favorite book.
- Enlist a friend or family member to watch a movie with you!
- Call someone you love up on the phone. Tell them you just wanted to hear their voice.
- Put on a guided meditation video! It’s okay if you’re not “good at it” yet. Being mindful of your breathing, body, and feelings for just a few minutes every day can be a very relaxing and grounding experience.
- Complete a small task, like taking out the trash. There is a feeling of pride that comes with accomplishing even the tiniest of feats.
Laundry. Hamper. Now. AKA: Environmental needs.
- Do a load of laundry!
- Care for your houseplants. (Gotta have ’em.)
- Pick up any trash from around your room and throw it in the garbage or recycling.
- Is the air kinda stale? Crack a window!
- Get your kitchen clean. Put on some fun music while you’re at it.
Ask yourself: what am I avoiding? AKA: Work.
- Do one small task.
- Commit to chipping into the thing you are avoiding.
- Are you avoiding certain thoughts? Why? Write or draw something about those thoughts.
- If you have a homework assignment, make yourself a checklist. Break it down into little parts.
Why did that happen? AKA: Prevention.
- Forgive yourself. That wasn’t wasted time – you were learning about yourself and your reaction to stress!
- Say it with me: I deserve the comfort and rest of a regular sleep cycle.
- And again: I deserve the nourishment of having three meals every day.
- And again: I deserve the peace-of-mind that comes from facing my life head-on.