There are many triggers people face each day that can tempt them to give into self-destructive habits, whether it be self-harm, binge drinking, drug use, binge eating, reckless driving, etc. While engaging in one or more of these activities may numb your feelings and make you feel good in the moment, they are also hurting you and can lead to serious consequences and negative feelings. You deserve to be happy.
Instead of engaging in behaviors that harm yourself, here are some alternatives to feeling better when things seem hopeless that promote healthy habits and aid in recovery. Please tell someone you trust if you are dealing with any of these issues, and seek help. These tips are meant to reinforce recovery and help when you are feeling overwhelmed.
1. Write down everything that is upsetting you.
Then scribble it out, as hard as you can, over and over until you can’t see the writing anymore. Tear the paper apart. Scream if you need to, cry if you want to, as long as you can. Allow yourself to feel, no matter how much it hurts. The physical release is a way to relieve the stress that is suffocating you. This physical release is a vessel for emotional pain to regulate itself. Being emotional is not a sign of weakness; embracing your feelings makes you strong.
2. Make any type of tea.
Chamomile tea and peppermint tea are particularly good for calming you down, due to the properties in these teas relaxing the central nervous system. If you don’t like tea, make hot chocolate (with milk instead of water for a richer taste). It's yummy, and the process of making it will be soothing in itself, giving you time to relax and be absorbed in the process.
Whether it’s going hard on the treadmill, riding a bike, or taking a long, slow walk, getting active will release endorphins that will make you happy naturally. I know that when situations are particularly hard, the last thing anyone feels like doing is working out. But getting fresh air will help clear your mind, and the intensity of moving will push the negative thoughts away as you focus on your goals or admire the nature surrounding you. Making this a long-term goal can give you something to look forward to and better yourself with, and each session will be a small victory.
Some people assume there needs to be a religious aspect to this, but there doesn’t. If you are religious, repeating a little prayer to help clear your mind can be really helpful. It can be as simple as asking for peace of mind or help in recognizing the love that surrounds you, whatever. If you are not religious, repeating positive affirmations about yourself will help. Try saying, I am strong, I am trying, and that is good enough. Aroma therapy in the form of candles, incense or scented plug-ins can enhance the relaxing effect. Close your eyes and clear your mind except for the one thing you feel you need right now, and convince yourself that you have the power to harness it inside of you already.
5. Paint, draw, color, read, listen to music, etc.
Whatever you like to do that gets your creative side going, go for it! Our passions in life can bring out the best side of us, and putting all of your energy into something you love will make you feel rewarded. Sharing our passions can connect us to others as well, something that tends to be avoided during bad times. Writing is my passion, and I wrote some of what I consider to be my best work when I was at a personal low. When you feel like nothing can take your mind off the struggle you feel inside, getting creative is a way to force your mind to work in other ways and work with you rather than against you to create something beautiful.