Like many young people, I’m not always the kindest to myself. This feels like a very personal thing to talk about, which probably means too many people can unfortunately probably relate, so here goes nothing! I try to make things with a negative connotation into a positive one, so please stand by as we go through a moment of sadness; I swear it’ll pass into some positive energy after the intro. These past few years have really just made me feel so temporary. Especially with the COVID era, a lot of the time it just feels pointless to allow myself space for comfort and a time to settle when it feels like this year is just a passing time and nothing is permanent. So, I wanted to encourage some things that have really helped me reflect on myself and just feel good for a while, in a time when everything feels like it’s moving all the time. Side-note: I put a ‘helpful scale’ in here to show what benefitted me and what didn’t. Obviously, all of this is from personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt, but I also tried to explain why each one was the score that it was.
- Changing Up Your Hair
Helpful Scale: 11/10
This one sounds very stereotypical, but it was a game-changer! I also have a bone to pick with this one, because whoever decided that people who dramatically change their hair are really “going through it,” sometimes, yes, that’s very true, but you know what? It helps! Sometimes when you’re really going through a rut, change is just so damn important. Side note though, how someone wears their hair is not your business unless they ask, so kindly be quiet if you’re just going to be insensitive. I decided to get bangs while literally driving to get my hair cut. On top of that, it took me five years before I had the patience to grow my hair out, so sometimes balance doesn’t exist, and that’s completely okay! It sounds so vain, but being unhappy with how you look really has the ability to change how you feel sometimes. It should by no means determine how you live your life, but when you feel good about yourself– WOW, does it show through!
- Get Rid of Poor-Fitting (*Stupid*) Clothes
Helpful Scale: 11/10
I cannot emphasize this enough: If clothing doesn’t fit you, get rid of it! Sizing, especially women’s sizing, is ridiculous. It’s about as accurate as predicting the year 2020. If you’ve read any article of mine before or know me personally, I’ve most definitely mentioned thrifting before, and there are infinite reasons why I recommend it. Truly, and wholeheartedly, the best reason is it made me feel a lot better about my body. If you’ve ever been thrifting, you know that sizing is essentially non-existent in almost all thrift stores, so you become accustomed to looking for hours in a very large array of sizes. This is the best part of thrifting, in my opinion! There aren’t rules for clothing. Women’s clothing sizing was invented so seamstresses knew how to cut patterns. (That’s literally the only reason!) It wasn’t made to make you feel crappy about yourself, so please, if it’s not benefiting you, take the pain from it. It’s fabric, and if it’s being unkind, it wasn’t meant to be. If nothing else, use it as an excuse to revamp it. Make it into something else you’d like, or just go get a new piece overall. Clothing should make you feel good, comforted and empowered, so let it do its job!
- Nightly Positive Reminders
Helpful Scale: 8/10
I didn’t do this until a couple of months ago, and as “Millennial” as it sounds, it actually did start on Snapchat. I started sending streaks, and I was feeling all the Lin Manuel Miranda Twitter vibes and decided to make it into a “well wishes”, ”see ya tomorrow”, “hope you’re well” kind of thing. It was at a time in my life when I really wanted to hear a lot of reassurances myself, so while I was telling myself, I was also writing it for other people. This then turned into me being forced to look back at my day and taking away the best pieces. I realized that sometimes the best parts of your day are seeing a dog in boots (true story) and other times it’s finding out you’ve been selected for a position you really wanted and worked your butt off for (also a true story). On the other hand, please take the time to be sad if you’re sad. Be angry if you’re angry. This one can have a negative connotation if you force yourself into emotions that you aren’t feeling, therefore, taking away the entire purpose. Again, at the risk of sounding cheesy, all emotions are valid, and sometimes there’s no way around it than to be in it for a short while.
- Positive Reinforcements (including sweets, of course)
Helpful Scale: 9/10
This is the newest method I just started, so I’m going to geek out on this for a minute! Also, please don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, it’s been monumentally helpful for me. I still have a long way to go, but stating your goals out loud or putting them on a piece of paper does a scarily good job at making things more real. I used to only do this with scary things, so planners used to bring me the largest amount of dread and make me into the worst procrastinator. However, post-it notes are different for some reason! Maybe because they’re smaller, so if I mess up it doesn’t feel as big of a mess up. I also saw this method where you write down all your goals, each goal having its own post-it, and moving them to the other side once you’ve completed them. This felt kind of monotonous to me, so I decided to highlight them in fun colors after I was done, but do whatever makes you happy! Other suggestions I have are drawing/writing positive things about yourself, giving yourself sweets, doing something nice for yourself, or whatever else feels appropriate. It’s kind of like the candy rewarding method when you’re in grade school, but it worked then, so why quit now just because we can legally vote and drink? That’s all the more reason, so give yourself the credit!
- Baking (also including sweets)
Helpful Scale: 10/10
If you’re one of those people that doesn’t eat sweets or has an ultimate fear of creating any baked goods, allow me to attempt to sway you! I’ve been baking since I was little, and I still only somewhat know what I’m doing. This is the perfect indication to prove how possible it is! Sometimes even making those cute little festive imprint sugar cookies are about as much baking as you need, and those often taste just as good, if not better, than other cookies. I also love making too much so I “have” to give some away. So if you’re not a big sweets person, surprising someone sporadically with something, especially something homemade and tasty, is a great way to spread some joy! It also tends to be really therapeutic for me if I’m feeling less than stellar some days. After working so hard, you definitely deserve to reap the rewards, so please use it as an excuse to eat as much as you wish, you’ve earned it!
- Take a Nostalgia Trip
Helpful Scale: 9/10
Here’s the plan: step one: grab that one sweater/hoodie that you love from your childhood. Feel free to switch out any other articles of clothing or pieces of nostalgia memorabilia– I highly recommend fuzzy socks (yes, I still have socks from my high school days, and I’m also impressed they still fit). Step two: grab your favorite childhood snack, which hopefully you haven’t overdosed on. I do this thing with food a lot where I just eat it until I eventually hate it. My choice is Ben and Jerry’s: Chunky Monkey though, which unfortunately for my bank account, I still very much enjoy. Final Step: select that show/movie that defined your entire childhood. I was really cool in high school, so mine is The Walking Dead. Luckily for me, I also loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Both of these are quite heavy though, so if your choices aren’t your vibe, I don’t know too many people that hate/ haven’t seen Friends or The Office, so I also recommend those! I also wanted to mention this in case this one is hard for you, replace all of this with new things! That’s just as valid a choice, and you can look at it like a trip to your future. You can get some new snacks (the ones you’ve always wanted to try but think “Oh, better not,” it’s time), splurge on some new comfy clothes, find a random new show or movie (shameless plug: I wrote an article on my personal favorites in case you need a suggestion) and whatever else you want to start a new chapter. There’s this quote I really love that goes on to mention that losing time doesn’t mean it’s over, it just means you’re closer to your time coming. I think that’s a really important element to touch on because sometimes new memories can be just as validating and fulfilling as old ones!
- Wearing Colors that Make You Happy
Helpful Scale: 10/10
Okay, so storytime! When I was fourteen or so, I was really going through it, and once I finally got out of it, I asked my mom if I could get some new winter clothes. I still commend myself for this because of how much it truly affected me. I actually still have it, but there was this sweater I got that I think I will forever be biased towards. It’s this quite ugly blue and white sweater that kind of resembles hanging blue lights in stripe form. I got it because it was just blue and bright enough that it felt homey and comforting in a time when I really needed some comfort. I still think it’s kind of ironic that blue was my happy color, but it reminded me of the sky, and that felt really reassuring at the time, like a new day was coming. If you’re going through something similar, I encourage you to give it a shot! Better yet, be somewhat sustainable and thrift it. This doubles if you end up not liking the piece, then you’re not losing too much.
So, by all means, take this as your excuse to have a self-love night! If you’re looking for a sign, here it is! Even if you haven’t had a “bad day.” Sometimes just the okay days are the ones we need a rest the most. It’s hard to slow down when you’ve been moving so rapidly. So take a deep breath, prop your feet up, grab a bag of popcorn and watch an entire season of Friends in one sitting. Or, plan all the kick-butt things you’re going to do in your lifetime. Whatever you do, make sure you feel good doing it!