If you’re human, you will be no stranger to the fact that sometimes, LIFE-IS-JUST-CRAP-OKAY. Something disconcerting happens, or (oh, the joys of human fragility), nothing really happens at all, but still, our little world turns on its head, sending us spiralling into a pit of all-encompassing negativity, our gloomy thoughts dancing vigorously in our minds like a bunch of rowdy, uninvited guests at a house party. Welcome to the explicit reality of the human experience, where things can feel grand and lovely one moment, and well, just a bit shit the next.
Here’s the deal. You are the only person who can sort this. I can’t offer much wisdom in life, but I can absolutely give you this: the most important relationship you will ever have on this earth is the one you have with you. Be your own best friend: I dare you.
Whether you’re stuck in a bit of a self-lovin’ rut, or need to revel in your oneness beneath the grey, here are some lovely, little ways to look after yourself.
1. Avoid alcohol.
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is not your friend. You might find temporary solace in two bottles of bargain-basement, this-absolutely-could-be-urine wine, but come 11pm, your life will be under cruel scrutiny through a rosé tinted magnifying glass, and you’ll be spilling theatrical tears in the bathroom. Come 2pm the next day, you’ll be bed-ridden, nauseous, covered in stale snot, and you will hate everyone. Particularly yourself. Which is very counter-productive.
Once upon a time, I invested in a hula hoop, and I started throwing it around my porky body to cheesy 90s pop like there was no tomorrow. I discovered three things that year: firstly, that HULA HOOPING IN PARTICULAR IS REALLY FUN AND PLEASES YOUR INNER CHILD GREATLY, secondly, that sports bras squash buoyant breasts into all sorts of extraordinary shapes, (it’s an art form, I’m telling you), and thirdly, that exercise in general is absolute tonic for both the body and the mind.
Spending 10 minutes shaking your beautiful limbs will make you feel much better than the ten minutes you’ll otherwise spend staring at your bedroom wall, silently wishing it would collapse on your head. I promise.
3. Buy a head massager and massage your head.
There. Is. No. Greater. Feeling. On. Earth. The stimulated nerve endings! The tingles! THE JOY! Best of all, you can experience it all on your own, for like, £2.50. You’re welcome.
4. Have an early night.
Life is so much easier after a good night’s sleep. Things often realign if you allow yourself the opportunity to sleep away your sadness. It doesn’t matter if curling up at 9pm makes you feel a bit uncool. Do you know what’s more uncool? Being miserable. Being too tired to face whatever’s going on. Snapping at poor, innocent Pauline in the post office queue because you didn’t get your zzzzzzs in.
5. Be creative.
For me, there’s no greater solace or savior from mediocrity than scrawling my grubby heart out by the sea: pouring my bones into page upon page of my latest, battered notebook with words and sentences so hurried I can barely decipher them afterwards.
The thing I like most about creativity? It can transform the bad into the good. You channel that misery into a a piece of writing or a theatrical performance, or a papier-mache squirrel, whatever takes your fancy, and then you create something good, something actually good: something that might touch the heart of somebody else. You become almost grateful that you experienced that pain in the first place.
6. Get outside.
The sea. The sea. The sea. Beautiful skies: wispy clouds, a raging sunset, the mad scattering of stars and darkness above and the fucking spectacularity of it all. Look at it all. Feel tiny.
7. Tidy up.
Nothing screams ‘adulthood, I am in you’ more-so than the understanding that tidying up is good for the soul. I’m pretty sure somebody wrote a best-selling book about it.
8. Buy yourself fresh flowers.
They’re alive, and they’re gorgeous, and there’s something about the way they’re splayed in that pastel blue Ikea vase that makes you feel adult and like you’ve got your shit together. A CHARMING, COMFORTING FACADE, my friends.
9. Give yourself something to look forward to.
Whether it’s a bacon and brie sandwich for dinner, a countryside adventure, or a mooch through the Asda home-ware aisle (that winter animal bedding though…), you completely deserve a beacon of glittering hope at the end of the tunnel: a little something that will punctuate your current existence with a sparkle of joy.
10. Stop comparing yourself to others.
In this vast, digital, instagram-filtered age, it’s all too easy to fall into a cynical trap: ‘she’s prettier than me’, ‘she is waaaaaay more talented than I will ever be’, and ‘she eats acai bowls! ACAI BOWLS! I am a failure to humanity!’ The more we compare ourselves to others, the more we diminish the good within us. And there really is a lot of good inside of you, remember that. The elusive person you’re jealous of is as flawed and fragile as you are.
The best thing about humanity? We’re in a constant state of creation. If you want to be better, you can be. You will be.