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    11 Self-Care Tips To Try When You Don't Know Where To Start

    Some small adjustments, and some bigger changes to help you brighten your day.

    Sometimes the idea of changing your habits is so overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start when you don’t even know what you need.

    Naoise Dolan/ Icon Books

    This means it can be infuriating when one is bombarded with wellness tips from all angles. (I am not unaware of the irony of writing this in a ~wellness tips~ article.) When well-meaning friends suggest yoga or yoghurts or whatever as a panacea, their good intentions can be almost heartbreaking. You might feel pushed and pulled between sceptically querying their suggestions, and desperately hoping that they’ll work.

    For me, finding the right self-care regimen feels like playing one of those coin drop machines at the arcade – you know, the ones where you slowly drop in pennies as it pushes them over a ledge?

    Natalya Lobanova/ BuzzFeed

    Even though the game is tricky and requires constant input from me, there’s also a chance that someday, I’ll win. Incidentally, I do love this game and play it all the time (which probably tells you all you need to know about me).

    In the same way that playing a coin drop machine won’t win you enough money for a house deposit, these small mental adjustments won’t change your life overnight. But they might distract you for a moment, or help you figure out what does and doesn’t work, for you.

    Feel free to adapt these tips so that they work for you – and let us know in the comments if you've got a great tip to share.

    1. Find an instant distraction that you can turn to when you’re feeling worried.

    Becky Barnicoat/ BuzzFeed

    It could be as simple as thinking of how you would cross a room without touching the ground, or listing animals alphabetically – anything that will focus your tired brain on something different.

    2. Try to find some internal stillness.

    Andrea Hickey / BuzzFeed

    I know, I know, this is the meditation bit. You could try a guided meditation app, or you could lean into your daydreamer tendencies. Create a scenario in which you get to imagine rich detail; for example, I can happily plan my dream lavish wedding, or what I’d do if I were a popstar.

    Or, if you don’t have the time or desire to wander too deep into daydreams, focus on something concrete – like the buds on the plants on your windowsill; marvel at how the sun’s energy is turning them into flowers ever so slowly.

    3. If you have bad habits you’re trying to change, like picking at your skin, or biting your nails, try replacing the sensation with something else.

    Hannah Hillam/ BuzzFeed

    For instance, you might try holding an ice cube. (I tried this, and while the actual ice cube didn’t work for me, the act of interrupting the impulse to pick did. I’ve also used a fidget spinner or a fidget cube too.)

    4. Print out and frame some photos of family and friends.

    5. Find a pause button in your day.

    Loryn Brantz/ BuzzFeed

    Instead of trying to push through to end of the working day, make time to recharge. And realise that ‘recharging’ looks different for everyone – maybe you like to chat to a friend, or listen to a podcast while taking a stroll around the block. For example, I like to stop around 3pm (schedule permitting) and do the crossword for fifteen minutes.

    6. Say ‘no’ rather than yes.

    Andrea Hickey/ BuzzFeed

    If plans and commitments are overwhelming you, it’s ok to cancel or adjust them. If you’re someone whose default is to make no plans, then make a couple of small, low-risk plans – maybe to walk around your local park with a friend, or to read two chapters of your book in a new coffee shop.

    7. Spend some time making your bedroom as calm as possible.

    8. Throw out clothes that make you feel bad.

    Jen Lewis/ BuzzFeed

    BuzzFeed editor Arianna Rebolini wrote about throwing out clothes she had bought when her weight fluctuated due to an eating disorder:

    "I was beginning every single day with a terrible task – facing a closet that told me my body wasn’t right, and choosing which way I’d like to be made physically uncomfortable that day. My clothes were undoing years of work toward accepting my body as-is, coaxing me into old belief".

    Are you holding on to clothes that don’t reflect who you are anymore – or who you want to be? Clothes are not an indicator of your worth – if jeans don’t fit, give them to a charity shop, and buy ones that make you feel good about your body.

    9. Watch a TV show that reinforces how you feel.

    Lauren Zaser/ BuzzFeed

    This could be Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s depiction of borderline personality disorder, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s determination to live alongside her PTSD, or even RuPaul’s Drag Race, which endlessly preaches: ‘If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?’ All these shows are available on Netflix at the moment, btw – you can download and watch them whenever you want.

    10. Upgrade your shower experience.

    11. Invest in one thing that makes your day a little brighter.

    Rachel Miller/ Taylor Miller/ BuzzFeed

    Whether that’s a specific type of pen you like, or a water bottle in a bright colour. Just something that makes you smile when you look at it. My desk at work is surrounded with dumb trinkets, and I’m like a magpie in stationery shops: I pick up pens and highlighters that feel pleasing to me.

    Did you like what you've read? This article is an extract from 101 Tiny Changes to Brighten Your Day (Icon Books) by Ailbhe Malone, out now.

    Icon Books

    Ailbhe Malone is Campaigns Manager at BuzzFeed, and has featured as an industry expert on BBC’s The Apprentice, and for Phaidon’s Where to Eat Pizza (2016). Prior to BuzzFeed, she worked for Nylon (US), NME (UK), The Irish Times and Wired.

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