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15 self-care ideas for when you have challenging emotions

November 06, 2023

15 self-care ideas for when you have challenging emotions

There are moments in life when emotions like stress, exhaustion, or sadness take centre stage, leaving us feeling vulnerable and in need of self-care.

That's where your personalised self-care checklist comes into play. 

Why create an emotional wellbeing checklist?

Imagine having a go-to resource, a trusty checklist, that you can rely on when difficult emotions wash over you. This checklist equips you with the confidence to care for yourself during those challenging moments, helping you navigate the storm with grace and resilience.

The next time you find yourself in the midst of stress, exhaustion, or sadness, you'll have this checklist as your faithful companion—a self-love and self-care cheat sheet tailored to your unique needs.

Defining your checklist

To create your emotional wellbeing checklist, start by reflecting on practical, mindful coping strategies that have proven effective for you in the past.

Think about what brings you solace and comfort during these emotional states.

Here are some ideas to consider for your checklist:

  1. Deep Breathing: Incorporate simple breathing exercises to calm your mind and reduce stress. For example, practice the 4-7-8 technique, where you inhale for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds.

  2. Mindfulness Meditation: Set aside a few minutes for mindfulness meditation to ground yourself in the present moment and alleviate anxiety.

  3. Physical Activity: Engage in a quick burst of physical activity, whether it's a short walk, stretching, or a few yoga poses. Physical movement can help release tension and boost your mood.

  4. Positive Affirmations: Create a list of affirmations or mantras that resonate with you. Repeat them to yourself as a way to shift your mindset and build self-confidence.

  5. Journaling: Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Expressing your emotions on paper can provide clarity and relief.

  6. Listening to Music: Curate a playlist of songs that uplift and soothe you. Music can have a profound impact on your emotions.

  7. Disconnect from Technology: If screens are exacerbating your stress, make a note to disconnect from devices for a set period to recharge.

  8. Nature Break: Spend a few minutes in nature if possible, whether it's a brief walk in a nearby park or just sitting in your garden. Nature has a calming effect.

  9. Aromatherapy: Use essential oils or scents that you find comforting. Inhaling calming scents like lavender or eucalyptus can help reduce stress.

  10. Visualisation: Practice guided imagery or visualisation techniques to transport your mind to a peaceful place.

  11. Affectionate Self-Talk: Develop a list of kind and compassionate phrases to say to yourself when you need reassurance.

  12. Reach Out to Support: Make a note to reach out to a friend or loved one for a chat or a quick check-in when you're feeling down.

  13. Limit Decision-Making: Recognise that making decisions while overwhelmed can be challenging. Allow yourself to postpone non-urgent decisions until you're in a better emotional state.

  14. Sensory Soothing: Identify sensory activities that calm you, such as sipping on a warm cup of tea, taking a soothing bath, or cuddling with a soft blanket or stuffed animal.

  15. Grounding Techniques: Incorporate grounding exercises like the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, where you identify five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

Recording Your Checklist

There are several ways to document your emotional wellbeing checklist. You might choose to write it down in your Curation planner or Pledge to Stay Well Journal with a page dedicate to the list. Alternatively, you can add it to the "NOTES" section of your phone for easy access.

Here's a creative suggestion: Complete the exercise in your journal, then snap a photo of it and store it in an album on your phone, labeling it "Self-Care." This approach offers the best of both worlds. You can immerse yourself in the mindful process without distractions, and yet have the convenience of carrying your personalised checklist with you at all times.

You may need to experiment with different strategies to determine which ones are the most effective during specific emotional states. Customise your emotional wellbeing checklist to ensure it's a valuable tool for your self-care journey.