Given all the emotions us twenty-somethings and college students experience in our day-to-day lives, my mind has been searching for an emotional first-aid kit, if you will. A list where, when I’m apathetic or truly raw, I can pick off a number and do that item in the hopes that, for a few moments, I can either forget my many emotions or better process them. Quick fixes to curing depression don’t really exist. Instead, I want to offer and be offered small, general steps for when you recognize you need a little TLC. These are good reminders for anyone in that moment of emotional need. 1. Stopping to breathe! Tell yourself that times will not always be like this, and whatever emotion you’re experiencing will eventually settle down.
2. A hot drink. Even if that’s not your favorite, even holding some hot water in a mug can be very calming.
3. Taking a walk. Outside, if you can. If you live in the Polar Vortex (like me), then find some hallways, stairs, or pace around. Getting moving can be an emotional break and help relax you.
4. Reading that letter to your future self. I stumbled across one today in a journal from a year ago that basically told me to calm down and remember that nothing is as big as it seems in the moment. Write one to yourself now and store it in a safe place.
5. Stretching. Sometimes I think my day would benefit greatly by giving my muscles a moment to relax or be used in gentler ways. It leaves your body feeling refreshed.
6. Relaxing media. Whether that be a playlist of your favorite, emotionally-freeing songs, funny YouTube videos (cats or laughing babies are my favorite), or an inspiring Podcast. For example, sometimes I need hip hop dancing and sometimes I need a Spotify “mood” playlist.
7. A Disney movie. Or, if those aren’t your thing, just a favorite film that always incites good memories. And maybe a warm blanket and a friend to watch it with.
8. Blank sheets of paper. To journal, or rant on, or color, draw, paint – you name it! Getting something written down or out of your system can be very therapeutic.
9. Someone to talk to. A phone call, text, or Facebook message away. Admitting you need help or sharing thoughts is healthy. For me, an external processor, it’s almost essential at times.
10. Doing nothing. That’s right – just lie down on the floor and stare at the ceiling for a while. Your mind’s been busy! Give it a break.