As an introverted person, I am happy doing most things by myself, or with a few other people. I’m also quite sensitive, so I often end up feeling like I should be doing more people-related activities (FOMO is real). This is in large is due to the fact that I am still learning to be comfortable with myself.
In this gap year, however, I have learned to be more comfortable with and being with myself. Though it has been my ‘loneliest’ year and has been an emotional struggle at times, it has enabled me to know myself much better. I have delved into so many activities that were related to improving my emotional and physical well-being, as well as expanding my creative outlets.
Below is a list of therapeutic activities (foolproofed by me) that you can do when you’re feeling upset. You’ll notice that all of them involve you actually getting up and doing something; this is because I have pretty much taken out all idle activities that would otherwise make you feel even less productive and worse about yourself.
CALM – for when you’re not feeling very energetic, or are too tired to do much
Meditate. If you want to wind down or calm your thoughts, this is a great option. I meditate every morning with the Headspace App, and it’s a very calming way to start my day. Each meditation session can last for however long you want it to be.
Read. If you want to be distracted from your hectic life, read an easy-to-read fiction book; if you’re looking for self-improvement, reading self-help books (e.g. Eat, Pray, Love) or other non-fictions (e.g. The Power of Habit) works. Even if it’s a ‘cheesy’ book, it’s bound to give you a new perspective on your own life. Tip: switch up your environment – go to a cafe, library, or even the park. It’ll make the activity more eventful.
Organize your space. Look around your room, or home. Is your bookshelf, desk, bedside table, or drawer disorganized? Pick one thing, and devote some time to clean it and make it presentable. Tip: listen to an audiobook, podcast or TED Talk while you organize. It’s a great way to multitask!
WRITE – for when you need to declutter your mind and materialize your thoughts
Journal. I do something called morning pages, which simply means that I journal 2-3 pages a day every morning. I literally write anything that’s on my mind; sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. But writing my thoughts down helps me get a better idea of what I’m dealing with, instead of just letting it ramble in my mind uncontrollably.
Blog. I love blogging. I blog on this site when I have concrete ideas and some time to type them down. I always feel good about myself after blogging. I also ‘blog’ on my Tumblr – in the form of collages and short posts. Tumblr’s a more creative and photograph-related site, and it works when I’m feeling more aesthetic.
Bullet journal. I do this every morning/night as well, and I love how I can define everything that I do on my journal. I don’t spend as much time designing my spreads though, but I still enjoy planning my days and decorating my pages every once in a while.
Become ambidextrous. Just take a pen and paper, and start writing with your non-dominant hand. When I first started this, I had so many flashbacks to when I had just started learning to write the alphabet at my school. Doing this really helps you realize how, no matter at what stage you are in your life, every activity starts with those baby steps.
CREATIVE – when you’re feeling slightly more adventurous
Photograph. You don’t have to have a wonderful canvas in front of you to take amazing photographs. Make your surrounding your canvas, and share it on Instagram or Tumblr.
Play an instrument (or learn one). The thing about playing an instrument is that you have to devote your mind and body to this activity. If you’re learning a new piece and you want to play well, you need to lose yourself in your instrument. I’ve only ever felt this when I took ballet for a few months.
Bake. I’m not a fan of anything kitchen-related. I love eating, I just don’t enjoy making something that will just disappear in a few hours. But it helps to get you distracted. There’s a beginning, a process, and a (voila) ending that will make you feel proud of your masterpiece.
ACTIVE – when you want to feel physically and emotionally good about yourself
Jog. It works. Actually, I just came back from a run, and I feel great. Going out, walking to the park and running 4 km gave me the time, air and space to just get out of my comfortable home and think my life through. Plus, you get to feel very sporty and good about yourself afterwards.
Bike. An alternative to jogging. It’s as equally refreshing, though not as physically rewarding, but it’s one of the easiest and effective form of exercises that you can do.
Connect with an old friend. It’s wonderful to be able to talk to someone after some time, and realize that you still have a connection with this person. Even if you feel like they should be the ones talking to you first, sometimes you just gotta take that leap yourself.
Sign up for a class. Anything. Even if you don’t like being surrounded by so many people, taking a class will give you something to look forward to and focus on. I have taken ballet, Pilates, Yoga, and self-defense classes this year, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. An alternative is to take an online class, if you’re looking for a more academic subject that you can learn on your own. Create a plan and spend some time every week on this new subject!
Do yoga. Whether it’s watching a YouTube video, reading an article, or just exploring it based on what you have learned before, yoga is a meditate yet active form of exercise that you can do. Based on the type of yoga that you’re doing (don’t start with hot yoga, please), your experience will be different. My tip? Explore!
Take a walk. Simple, yet effective. But make sure you’re not walking in the middle of a traffic or frenzied area. Simply stepping out of your house will immediately get you in a better mood.
Volunteer. There is nothing more rewarding than devoting your time for others. Whether it’s teaching, building houses, or spending time with the elderly, you will always learn more than you help.