A few people close to me are having a really, really tough time at the moment.
When life is throwing what feels like the worst of everything at you, I think it’s really important to have little things you can do to make yourself feel better quickly and/or cheaply.
Much as my reserved British nature gets a little twitchy around the popular concept of loving yourself, I do recognise the importance of self-respect and looking after yourself. I think they’re basically forms of the same thing, and while you’ll never find me telling myself I love me in the mirror, for me self-respect and looking after yourself include standing up for yourself, not getting pushed around, not over-committing to things you have little interest in or will bring little reward for a punishing outlay, and recognising that it’s OK to put yourself first at times, especially in a relationship.
I’m really bad at all those.
But over the years and through the bad times, I’ve assembled a pretty foolproof list of things that help me feel better instantly when I’m feeling low or exhausted:
A mug of tea
I like Lady Grey or Tetley. Milk and one sugar, in a nice big cheerful mug.
A shopping trip to buy something small and brightly coloured
Paperchase serves well here. I’ve been known to give myself the grown up equivalent of a 10p mix at the sweety counter – even £5 will buy a couple of cute colourful (or polka dotted) bits in here, and it’s one of my favourite shops.
I used to love buying a new bottle of nail varnish as a cheap cheerful pick me up, but in truth I hardly ever wear it so I try not to buy it now.
Something small and sweet to eat
French Fancies or Swizzels sweets will do at a push. A warm cinnamon bun if I’m somewhere with a few more options.
Writing a long list
It’s one of the few Virgo traits I actually possess. Doesn’t matter if the likelihood of ticking everything off the list is minimal to zero, the act of writing the list is enjoyment enough.
Baking something using my Kitchenaid
Pizza dough or lemon drizzle cake would be top of the list, or mince pies at the appropriate time of year.
A new gin I’ve not tried before
With proper tonic.
Ideally home made, with posh salt and vinegar crisps while it’s in the oven, and plenty of juicy red wine to wash it down with.
Nigella’s kedgeree risotto
Without the eggs. Smoked fish is the main reason I could never go vegan. This is my most favourite comfort food and I love cooking it as well as eating it. I also love eating it cold.
A funny film and/or a trip to the GFT
Preferably with a glass of wine or coffee and a piece of their lovely cake before the film in the bar upstairs.
A quick fix of Grand Designs
Ideally the one with the disused power station near Chesterfield or the chalet in France.
A run/stagger up Cort ma Law or Meikle Bin
These are two of the biggest hills in the Campsie Fells and happen to be just behind my house. I can be at the top of either within an hour of leaving my doorstep, and despite being so close to the city, I’m often the only one up there.
A cycle up the Crow Road or the Cuilt Brae/Stockiemuir Road
Only when I’m bike fit (which I am most definitely not at the moment). I love the effort of a good climb on my bike and the instant reward of the downhill afterwards.
The Coronation Street omnibus on a weekend morning
Preferably curled up with a pair of greyhounds and a few mugs of tea
Sitting down at my beautiful harp
and working in a very small way on my very long list of very big pieces
Doing a small easy DIY job in the garage or garden
Hanging pictures, painting, trimming hedges, putting shelves up, tinkering with my motorbike. I’m quite handy really and I am very proud of this. I love the satisfaction of a job well done afterwards.
A board meeting/drinks in the city centre
with one of my most loved, most respected, most insightful and most straight-talking friends.
A blowout at my favourite Italian deli/restaurant or cafe
A loud blast of one of my favourite songs in the car driving round the city at night
Ageispolis by Aphex Twin takes me a million miles from this planet.
It has to be loud enough to make the car shake.
If there’s an epic sunset, even better.
A long run in a beautiful place
Provided my energy levels are good and it’s not too hot, in which case this is less enjoyable. But if I’m feeling good in myself but in need of a clear out in the brain department, this is one of the best things I can do for myself. Ideally to be shared with a similarly paced and/or sympathetic supportive friend.
A trip to a quiet beach on the west coast of Scotland
Preferably involving getting my toes in the water and a pint afterwards.
A fast motorbike ride
On quiet, well surfaced roads
A trip to my gran’s
And a good catchup over a dog walk with my uncle
A trip to a certain German lake
On a very sunny day, smoked fish and beer for lunch, involving getting my toes in the water, and next time I visit, the rest of me too. Maybe I’ll even find a gold bar.