Owing to a somewhat mercurial nature, I now find myself in possession of a terrific chest of cheer-up-tools. Despite being a generally excitable person and fairly reactive to many of life’s delights, once I get stuck in my head, it’s hard to remember what these things are. So I have compiled a list of some of my fail-safe favourites for when I’m down. For reference.
Of course, the best cheer up methods are usually the ones outside of your direct, or at least immediate, control: a hug, solving a problem, a change in routine, seeing someone you love, returning to a life before it all altered, sunshine. But these things aren’t always possible.
So here are some quick pick me ups that I can control, and while they probably won’t fix much, or anything at all, sometimes just having a win is enough.
First, a simple questionnaire.
ANSWER YES TO ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS AND EXPECT TO FAIL:
It sounds really obvious, but so often I find myself thinking about something else so much that these things get pushed to the side. They cannot be pushed to the side. They cannot be avoided. Sort it out.
- Tea. I think I may have already mentioned how much I like tea.
- Take a walk. It’s actually the general journeying that does the job here. Anywhere I can stop my mind going round in circles. Cars and trains are great. And boats if I can find them. But the heartbeat raising and the rhythm helps. And it makes me feel connected to the world, more so than when aided by equipment.
- Mosey around a good bookshop. I like the smell of books. I like how quiet it is. I like that there is an entire room of creation, stories, dreams. But mainly it’s just a safe place that is outside of my usual environment.
- Take a bath. This is a dodgy one though, I once had a panic attack in the bath. A shower’s good too. Definitely something cathartic about the water.
- Comfort read. This is so much better than comfort TV, because I don’t feel like I’ve wasted a load of time and rotted my brain away. I read kids books. Get lost in make believe. Escape to another world.
- Write a To Do list of really simple, really achievable, every day things, like eat breakfast, brush teeth, comb hair. And tick them off.
- Listen to music, lie on the floor. Or dance. My version of meditation.
- Humble self with nature. Count the stars, watch a sunset, crunch on leaves, examine the buds, spot dew on a cobweb. TREES. (That’s a shout out to the trees, there.) The world is not a cold, dead place. And it’s much bigger and brighter than I am. The possibilities here are obviously dependent on surroundings, but even just sitting on the doorstep works. Or watching David Attenborough. Hmm, perhaps he needs his own point. He is pretty good.
- Watch David Attenborough. Boom.
- Exercise. Usually the best. But sometimes the world is far too scary for this.
- Do something creative. I write. Different things depending on how I’m feeling, but the satisfaction that comes with making something is second to none. Stuck for creativity? Not a creative person? Bullshit. Make a paper aeroplane. Doodle. Bake a pie. The point is, make something. Add to the world. You never know what other doors you might open.
- Do something nice and take the credit. Give a compliment, leave a tip, buy a copy of The Big Issue, give someone a hug. Make somebody a cup of tea. It doesn’t have to be big – ‘like’ someone’s Facebook status. There is no telling what effect these actions cause – it could be much needed encouragement for someone. Now I pat myself on the back and tell myself (however delusional) I’ve just made the world a better place.
The idea is to shift perspective. I find I have to keep reminding myself that I am not a fly: when a fly gets stuck inside and can’t fly any further, it keeps attacking the same point again and again, banging its head against the glass over and over. I am not a fly. Nor are you. Open the Goddamn window.
And if all else fails, just be grateful this isn’t you…