Embrace: Little Things

Earlier today, Carrie left a comment on yesterday’s post that I found really helpful.  Quoth she (that’s the second time I’ve used that expression today!):

When I am in a funk, or in a bad eating cycle, I don’t think I put enough effort into thinking about what I need and giving it to myself. As strange as this sounds, I’ve started painting my nails a lot recently. I’ve bought all these crazy colors and the shatter polish and I change it up when it starts to chip. It’s kind of like one little thing I can control that makes me smile.

From the moment I read this comment I felt like Carrie was on to something.  The idea of using something small (and even seemingly insignificant) to change some aspect of what you’re experiencing is in itself a small and simple idea, but a really powerful one.  It may be that you select a little thing to do, and it takes your mind off what is bothering you, or gives you a break from the depression you’re in, or just serves as a brief distraction.  It may help you to feel like you have some control, like Carrie mentions.  It may even be a first step, and serve to help you get moving when you feel paralyzed by everything else that’s going on.  It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that in order to get out from under the storm clouds that have been following you around, you need to make a major change (I know I tend to get stuck in this mode of thinking).  But the little things can have a big impact as well.

That’s why I thought that for tonight’s Embrace:Me post, I would compile a list of little things.  The goal is to keep them simple, and to have them be things that are not body-, food-, or mood-focused.  Ultimately, I’d like to hear from you about the little things that help you out of a funk so that we can add them to the list.  It’s possible that we’ll never have a list powerful enough to solve all our problems, but since the goal is to keep things small scale in order to avoid getting caught up in the large scale, we won’t worry about that.

And now the list!

  1. At-home (or go whole hog and go out to the salon) manicure or pedicure!  It doesn’t have to be fancy, but as Carrie suggests above, it should be fun.
  2. Courtesy of my friend Molly: knit a small square, and when it’s finished, knit another one.  Once you have a bunch, sew them together to make something–a blanket, a placemat, maybe just something that has no purpose other than to show you that you accomplished something.
  3. If you have a pet, spend some time with it.  Pet it, curl up with it, or just watch it for a while.  There’s a reason why so many hospitals have pet therapy.
  4. Put on some jewelry, or wear some that you haven’t worn in a while.
  5. Listen to your favorite song.
  6. Give someone a hug, or ask someone for one.
  7. Buy yourself some fresh flowers.
  8. Do your favorite yoga pose or sequence.  If you’re not feeling up to a full pose, just relax in child’s pose for a while.  Forward fold can also be good, as inversions are good at helping with depression.
  9. Try a guided meditation, or just spend a few minutes paying attention to your breath.
  10. Call someone you really enjoy talking to.
  11. Go for a short walk at a leisurely pace.  Don’t make it your work out for the day, just take some time to be outside.
  12. Spend a few minutes touching a texture that you find soothing.  It may sound silly, but it can be genuinely relaxing.
  13. Make a collage of images you like.
  14. Draw.
  15. What is your favorite little thing when you’re at your less-than-best?




  1. I really love this idea. Little things are… everything, sometimes. And I love Carrie’s original comment about not thinking about what we need, and giving it to ourselves. Sometimes we think we’re soooo complicated — and a lot of the time, we ARE facing situations that are complex, hard to understand, and just really difficult. But that doesn’t mean that small things can’t sometimes help answer the “what do I need in this moment” question.

    Two of your ideas are my go-to: going outside, and doing one simple yoga sequence or pose. Forward fold and some deep breaths is a real gift to myself. I also will pick up a novel and read/escape for 15 minutes. A really gripping novel is the best, because it sucks me in to the plot and characters, and gets me out of my own head. I guess escape isn’t always the healthiest, but when I’m stuck in a bad mental pattern, a jolt of something totally different is really helpful.

    1. Escape may not always be the healthiest, but I think you’re totally right in identifying the necessity of it. Sometimes what you really need is to be transported somewhere else, and just get out of your own head–I’ve also found that reading is a good way to do that! There can be real value in escaping from time to time, and it doesn’t mean that you won’t come back to what’s bothering you, just that you might be able to benefit from putting it aside for a while.

  2. My dog has been one of THE BEST things in my recovery, and I didn’t really get her thinking that was her function. I love my little Jade The Boxer, she’s so sweet and fun and playful and loving… and she keeps me on my toes! I call her my prescription puppy, because she really has worked wonders on my mental state.

    I made a collage a while ago after Alissa’s suggestion (and my therapist’s suggestion) and I really enjoyed it!

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