I’ve just re-watched Meet the Fockers – yes, it’s wonderful and silly – but remember the toddler who was being taught to self-sooth by Robert de Niro’s austere and somewhat troubled character, Jack Burns? A bit of a disaster really and too brutal for someone so young. But it made me think, how do you self-sooth as an adult, especially as there are many occasions these days when a bit of self soothing is a good idea. I don’t want you to think alcohol or chocolate, I want you to think about things that are good for you and make you feel better.
So, here are some healthy and cheap ways to make yourself feel better. Actually, even if you already feel just fine these are good things to do to boost your spirit and sense of well being.
1. Be creative. There’s nothing like using your imagination to feel better – if you’re artistically inclined and have access to materials what can stop you?
2. Use your hands – knit! Knitting can be utterly relaxing and soothing. Something simple like a long scarf that slowly unfurls as you go or something complex like an arran jumper or cardigan with pockets and several colours. For yourself or someone you love?
3. Be practical. Painting and mending things around the house gives a tremendous sense of well being and you have accomplished something really useful with your time, and most likely saved quite a bit of money as a bonus. Even cleaning the house can make you feel better. A big Spring Clean really boosts the well-being levels.
4. Chop things. Possibly wood, if you have an axe and a fire and can be trusted with such an implement! But really, I’m thinking vegetables and food. There’s nothing more soothing than sitting in the kitchen, either alone or in company, in silence or with music than sitting and chopping all sorts of vegetables. And then feeding others – it’s a good feeling and you’ve soothed others as well!
5. Peel eggs. Seriously this really works. Peeling hard boiled eggs is a challenge – try getting the shell and membrane off without blemishing the eggs. But a perfectly peeled boiled egg is a triumph and something to be mighty proud off. Years ago at a Melbourne Cup lunch at work it was my job to peel the eggs for the salads and it was one of the nicest ways I’ve ever spent an hour. I thoroughly recommend it, but make sure you run the eggs under the cold water, that they are properly cool and you’ve cracked the shell all over before you start.
6. Be with your friends. This is simple and easy. Do things you like together, have dinner, play sport, go to a movie; just watch telly. Nothing fancy or expensive – just time to be with people you like, who like you. Your family too…
7. Get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature. Walk in the park, on the beach, take the dog for a run. Go somewhere beautiful and just soak it all up. Fresh air, exercise and some place beautiful – what more do you need to sooth your spirit?
So, remembering the dictum that you cannot consider alcohol or chocolate, what self soothing activities would you add to this list? (Photos courtesy private collection: original art works courtesy Pallas-Athena Bewsher)