It’s vital to know what heals us. After all, how can we compassionately care for ourselves if we don’t know what calms, cures and refreshes us? The fun part is that we get to find out and experiment and essentially taste test. We get to test out different techniques, tools and habits.

I wanted to share a list of ideas with you because it helps to have one handy. It helps to know what works and also what totally doesn’t.

Go through each idea on this list, and note whether you find it helpful or not. Importantly, reflect on why something is helpful and why something else isn’t helpful. Doing so is the first step in taking kind care of yourself.

  • Use crayons, color pencils, markers or anything else you have at home to express your emotions on paper. Simply draw different lines or squiggles or swirls or whatever else feels good. Whatever else helps you feel like you’re releasing whatever it is you’re feeling.
  • Listen to ambient music (like this mix or this one or this one or this one).
  • Read memoirs penned by people who’ve gone through what you’re going through. Read blog posts and articles that resonate with you, and remind you of the truth and serve like a compassionate mentor telling you to keep going. Keep going.
  • Make a meal that is somehow meaningful to you. Maybe it’s meaningful because it’s a family recipe. Maybe it’s meaningful because it was the first dish you ever made. Then be sure to savor it.
  • Create a care package…for yourself. Think about what you love to smell, to touch, to taste, to read, to do. Fill a box with these objects, and turn to them when you need to. For instance, your package might be filled with vanilla scented candles, dark chocolate, a coloring book, green tea, the Torah and a book that always brightens your day.
  • Make an appointment with a therapist (and consider asking several potential therapists these questions).
  • Make something you loved making as a child. Paper snowflakes. Sugar cookies. Anything out of Play-Doh.
  • Plant a plant in a small pot by your door, or on your balcony. Plant a tree outside your window or in your backyard. Marvel at the beauty of new life. And realize that you, too, will bloom and blossom. You just need to listen, and practice.
  • Create your ideal retreat at home. What is restorative for you? Surround yourself with these objects. They might include journals, candles, paints, pillows, classical music, soft fabrics, hot beverages. Or create your ideal day. This might include peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, popcorn and a movie marathon (and maybe make your movie marathon include a theme like adventure or comedy or fantasy or documentary or foreign films).
  • Turn off the Internet in your home, and get completely, utterly, blissfully lost in a book. Any book. A children’s book. A book of poetry. A fairy tale. A book of quotations. A book about Russian history. A book of art from your favorite museum.
  • Visit a botanical garden or aquarium, and marvel at the magnificence of nature.
  • Write a very short story about a little girl or boy who’s struggling, too. What finally ends up helping her or him?

Remember that different things will heal you at different times. And remember that you are deserving of healing and effort and attention and rest.

Which ideas speak to you? What doesn’t work in healing you? 

Photo by Alisa Anton.