When your brain is shutting down from a panic overload (AKA, just a casual Wednesday night… and Thursday and Friday), it can be difficult to reverse the process. Rather, the panic tends to grow and grow, until you find yourself in the fetal position with both hands clenched around a roll of brie while listening to whale music.
Never fear – we’ve got your back. The next time you find yourself on a downward spiral, try one (or all) of these Aura Demeen (if you’re new, that’s us, Laura and Amy – our pen name for combined posts!) tricks to slow down.
1. Surround yourself with good smells
It might sound bizarre, but just putting yourself in a nice atmosphere – with soft, warm lighting, cosy blankets and good smells – can lift your mood by, like, a thousand percent. Pop a little coconut oil into your air diffuser, light up a peach candle or two or stick your face into a bag of sweet, fragrant oranges to get those bad feels just melting off.
Top tip: For literally the most amazing candles this life has to offer, check out DW Homes’ range (available at TK Maxx if you’re in the UK). Imagine being punched in the face by your favourite smell. That’s what these babies smell like. Not to mention their sexy gradients.
The one that I have on my desk right now. Oof. – Laura
2. Dose up on nice reality TV
There’s a reason. Watching people just be good to each other is so heartwarming, and reminds you that there’s love and light to be found on every corner of the planet – no matter how bleak your mood, or crappy the news. Give it a whirl.
3. Dunk yourself in a little nostalgia
What better way to help yourself exhale than to escape back to a time when you weren’t adulting? Let go of that bills stress, work deadline or the fact you’ve got two tins of mixed beans and a loaf crust to see you through to payday, by delving into some of the joys of your past. We love some nostalgia here at Flawkward HQ….and it comes in many forms. Splash out and make your ultimate kids’ tea – waffles, beans and sausages anyone? Or just whack on a movie you can always rely on to make you laugh (or cry…let’s face it, crying it out can be a huge help). A board game instead of a night longing for your mates’ holiday thanks to Instagram, a book you love that feels like a warm hug, you get the picture. Step back to something familiar and comforting for a little while, remember that often things are less complicated than they feel in the heat of the moment.
90s episodes of Friends = good feelings on tap.
4. Read some YA fiction
NOT JUST FOR YAs Y’ALL. We may be biased here because Amy writes it and reads it and is cough, thirty something, BUT this ain’t one of the biggest selling genres of fiction for nothing. There are some bloody good authors out there, crafting beautiful, strong or vulnerable characters that we can all find a little of ourselves in. Also, there’s a lot to be said for tapping back into our teenage/younger selves. If we really can’t convince you, other genres are available and we fully endorse reading anything at all if it helps.
5. Listen to some happy tunes…
We don’t know about you, but we are crazy impressionable when it comes to music. Just the opening notes of an uplifting song can completely switch our moods from grey to glittering – and, on the same hand, the first notes of ABBA’s ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ can reduce us to a blubbering mess. (What!? It’s a tragic song about both couples in the band DIVORCING each other. It’s worthy of tears.)
Next time you’re in a grim mood, plug in your headphones, crank up the volume and go for a walk. Alternatively, flare up Spotify and bang out a couple of happy-go-lucky musical playlists. Simple, but effective.
Top tip: Concerning playlists – if you’re stuck for inspiration, both of us at Flawkward love making them, so feel free to borrow these.
Laura’s (I chose tunes from Imagine Dragons to J-Pop and Hailee Steinfeld to Lionel Richie)
Amy’s (Mine is incredibly diverse…..I made this for my wonderful bestie Sarah to cheer her up, but I love it too).
6. … or your favourite podcast
We’ve already discussed how important music can be for relaxing, or escaping and we don’t know about you, but we can be pretty protective of our music time, it matters. BUT, podcasts are another great way to have some ‘you’ time. Amy is new to podcasts, so she is a real convert because only in the last month has she embarked on this journey! There are so many to choose from, you can literally listen to anything….love real crime? Easy! Wanna hear Jonathan from Queer Eye talk about ‘How we can be less rude to bees?’ – sure. Have a dig around, light those candles, put your headphones on and find a new thing to love.
Isn’t he pretty?
7. Go get a coffee
We know that a small sect of evildoers will tell you that caffeine gives you anxiety, but THEY ARE WRONG. Coffee is a pure and magical bean and it actually helps to calm you down, according to something we read on Anxiety.org (take that, naysayers). Also, it tastes amazing, comes with whatever syrups you want and is the best companion for a giant cookie or slice of red velvet cake. So, there really is no downside.
Get yourself out of the house. Beeline for your nearest and dearest coffee spot. Then sit back, cradle the mug in both hands and inhaaaale the fumes, trying not to make orgasmic murmurs as you do so. (Though we understand that involuntary sounds cannot always be helped.)
Hello, dark nectar (and pancakes).
8. Embark on a little creative project
We’re strong believers that doing something creative – anything creative – can be a great counter-attack to onslaughts of anxiety (no matter how strong they may be). We’re also convinced that there’s not a single person on this planet who doesn’t enjoy some degree of creativity from time to time, whether you’re a full-blown author or a connoisseur of sketching on napkins from Pizza Hut.
Laura’s grandma used to do scrapbooking. Both of us write. Or maybe you’re a draw-er (as in, someone who sketches, not a box of wood with shelves), a dancer or an actor. Maybe you like planting flowers, cooking complicated dishes or popping out haikus on the fly. Pick a creative medium of choice, and just let the inspiration flow through you. Not only can it serve as a fab distraction, it can be a great means to vent how you’re feeling, too. (In the words of Amy: notebooks and sketchbooks don’t judge or answer back – they just serve to soak up all of your emotions. Don’t hold back!)
Journal porn. (Source: Pinterest)
9. TALK. TO. SOMEONE
We know that’s easier said sometimes. When you’re anxious and stressed you might feel like hiding under a duvet and that’s cool, but if you feel like that duvet starts to become home or things don’t feel like they’re easing…talk to someone. There’s something very magical about the lightness that comes with opening up; most of the time, you’ll find the other person exhales right along with you as they realise they aren’t the only one still obsessively catastrophising about that meeting last week etc etc. We’ve said it before, we’re both anxious beans, so we get it, but if you feel particularly bad, ask for help, reach out to a service that suits you; it doesn’t mean you’re crazy, it means you’re human and our innate ability to shoulder every worry sometimes needs an energy boost, that’s all. Let’s agree that here we’ll treat our brains like the rest of our bodies and practice some self-care every once in a while, deal?
(On a serious note, there are people waiting to help if you feel depressed or suicidal too. Let’s make this a corner of the internet where we say all the things. Try imalive.org for a crisis intervention service manned by trained volunteers or the Samaritans – 116 123)
Words of wisdom. (Source: Pinterest)
10. Try fresh air
One thing that we all have in ready supply is oxygen. And AIR. And the ability to breathe in aforementioned oxygen and air, to some level of success.
We say: harness that superpower. Get outside and have a little fresh air frolic, breathing in that lovely summer breeze to the beat of your favourite jams (see point number 5). It’ll help you blow off some steam, get out of your own head and enjoy a healthy dose of vitamin C at the same time. That’s what we call a win-win-win.
Catching those rays.
What do you do to de-stress? What’s your favourite whale music CD? Let us know your ideas and tricks below!
Featured image from Pinterest.