When you’re feeling stressed, lonely, or simply out of sorts, what’s the first thing you do? If you’re anything like me, you might a) shut down, b) break down in tears, or c) seek a quick fix for your emotions. I wouldn’t recommend any of these responses, but they’re unfortunately all too common in our culture, especially the latter suggestion. There seems to be an infinite amount of stress-reduction articles these days, all boasting quick fixes for a spell of unhappiness. While I think these can be supremely helpful for pulling someone out of a temporary slump, these recommendations are often cloaked in a secondary set of stressors. For example, you’ve no doubt heard that essential oils are a great stress reducer, but what if you don’t have the recommended oil on hand? What if you truly cannot carve out 10 minutes for deep breathing exercises? This isn’t to say these aren’t great ideas (they are, and I personally make time for daily meditation), but sometimes our stress can only be alleviated by whimsy and joyfulness as opposed to peacefulness and introspection.
Lately, whenever I’ve been feeling down, I try to discover odd curiosities that help take me outside my present distress. I encourage you to explore these ideas, customize to your situation and emotions, and have fun!
1. Paint your nails a unique color.
Painting my nails is a great way for me to redirect my emotions. Similar to baking, painting one’s nails requires precision and focus–there’s often not much room for your thoughts to drift to whatever is plaguing you. To add some fun to this practice, choose a color that is unlike you–this will be different for everyone! I’m drawn to dark reds and pinks, so I like to pick bright blue or green. You’ll be surprised by how different and fresh you feel with this uncharacteristic pop of color.
2. Read a silly passage from your favorite novel.
When I’m feeling emotional, the bibliophile in me is drawn to words and the effortless ways in which they can evoke mystery, passion, loneliness, etc. Rather than selecting a morbid or depressing passage that only perpetuates the feeling, why not have some amusing words at the ready? I’m particularly fond of the books I cherished as a child, especially Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume…such a classic, and so funny!
3. Look at cute animal photos.
This one seems kind of obvious, but nothing makes me smile more than animals doing silly things. My friend always sends me links from BuzzFeed Animals; no matter how poorly I’m feeling, they never fail to make me smile.
4. Take a different route to or from work.
We’re all so serious during the commute to and from work, and our deeply cerebral nature comes out as we mindlessly take the same route each and every day. Whenever you’re feeling down, why not leave the house a bit early and take the side streets rather than the highway? Or, if you’re like me and rely on public transportation, get off the train or bus at an earlier stop and walk a bit extra. You might discover a beautiful piece of street art, or a beautiful abandoned house you never knew existed.
5. Plate your meals as if you were in a fancy restaurant.
This can be such a fun change to a normally harried breakfast, lunch, or dinner routine. If you normally have a smoothie for breakfast, sprinkle on some granola and lay your favorite berries around the circumference for a beautiful presentation. For dinner, why not place a few cilantro leaves atop your curry for garnish, or slice your collard wrap diagonally and stack the edges?
6. Random acts of kindness.
I always feel so much delight when committing to a random act of kindness. I love to write encouraging statements on post-it notes and leave them in the bathrooms at my gym. If you’re at a restaurant and have a little cash to spare, pay for your dining neighbor’s meal, especially if they look lonely or sad. I feel downright giddy secretly doing something for someone else, knowing how much a simple act can brighten their day.
What is your favorite way to add whimsy to your day?
Also by Molly: Raspberry Basil Chia Jam
Photo: Molly Lansdowne; Mary Hood; Peaceful Dumpling