Sometimes when our mental health is bad, all we want is comfort from someone else. It’s a difficult thing to accept, but it’s important to learn that sometimes we need to be that person for ourselves.
Self-care gets talked about a lot. It’s a broad concept that can apply to ideas as contrasting as going for a run and getting a massive takeaway (both of which count!) The range of ways we have to take care of ourselves as adults can be overwhelming and with so many resources out there, it can be overwhelming to think about where to start.
There’s sensible, grown-up self-care, like going to the shops when all you have in the fridge is that optimistic punnet of grapes you cruelly neglected, or putting on a load of laundry. It’s also important to treat yourself sometimes – whether that’s a bag of sweets, a sit-down or another Depop spree. It’s difficult to strike a balance, especially when your mental health is getting in the way.
So what can we do to take care of ourselves when we’re in need of comfort and feel alone?
When everything feels too much, focus on your five senses. We all know them. It’s primary school stuff: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell.
They are a useful way to remember how to ground yourself when you need to take a moment to settle down to do other things. Diving into tasks when you’re in need of comfort has the potential to make things worse. You will end up working yourself physically, as well as mentally.
If you can, visit somewhere you like nearby – that pretty spot not far from your home, maybe, or just take a short, aimless walk and pay attention to what you can see. People watching, nature watching, even TV watching can distract you enough to help you calm down a little.
Put some headphones in and listen to a guilty pleasure – the sort of song that’s usually only acceptable at two in the morning, or if you’re limited to headphones. If you’re out and about, take a moment and listen to what you can hear around you. Once you start noticing all the different sounds, you realise how much we block out usually – birdsong, traffic, people chatting and laughing, the wind in the trees.
Sip a hot, sweet cup of tea. Eat your favourite food – maybe an incredibly simple sandwich that for some reason you think is the most delicious thing in the world, or maybe something new that you’ve always wanted to try. Get some chocolate and enjoy it slowly, savour every mouthful.
Grab something soft! A blanket, a cushion, a teddy (don’t pretend you don’t have one knocking about). If you have a favourite moisturiser or body lotion then put it on. Wear your comfiest clothes and embrace them.
Light a scented candle, burn some incense or put on some perfume. Go out into nature and breathe deeply (if you don’t have hayfever). Just opening a window and breathing in the outside world is a good start towards soothing yourself.
Hopefully these 5 simple steps will allow you to ground yourself more easily the next time you feel a little overwhelmed.