When it comes to relaxing not all vices were created equal. For instance after a trying day if you like to unwind with a nice hot bath or if you like to switch off by spending hours in the garden, you're doing it right. If, however, you’re more inclined reach for the wine or hit the shops and spend too much money, you may have formed a bad habit.
Either way, don't be too hard on yourself as we’re all guilty of at least one of the things on this list from time to time. While self-soothing is a natural response to stress, it’s important that you try and self-soothe with a relaxation method that is a healthy habit.
Here are four unhealthy ways of self-soothing that you should keep in check and try and replace with something else - at least most of the time.
1. Reaching for the wine a little too often
While there’s nothing quite like a glass or two of wine at the end of a busy week, if you find you reach for the bottle after every hectic day - and you have hectic days most days - you might want to rethink your relaxation method. As alcohol interferes with a good night’s sleep, too, you might find you get into a vicious cycle and don't feel well rested each day after a few wines the night before.
2. Retail therapy
Many a people love a spot of shopping. And while there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to something new on occasion, when shopping becomes your go to way of self-soothing, you could be in for trouble - and so might your bank balance. Furthermore, using “retail therapy” to self-soothe is only a quick fix and the feeling good isn't likely to last. In fact, if you’re shopping and you can't really afford it or you don't really need the things, you could find it makes you feel worse.
3. Eating your emotions
It’s not uncommon to turn to food in a moment of crisis. From a young age many of us have been conditioned that if you're feeling a little down - i.e. if you were crying when you were younger - a little treat will fix it. What’s bad about this scenario is eating your emotions tends to lead to unnecessary overeating when you’re feeling blue. Rather than eating your emotions away, why not try walking or talking them away. Next time you want to reach for the chocolate, reach for your sneakers or the phone and walk and talk it out with one of your closest friends instead.
4. Locking yourself away
With all the negative things going on in the world, from time to time it definitely sounds like a good idea to lock yourself away from the world and hide under your duvet in front of the television. Unfortunately as the old saying goes - you can’t run away from your problems. And hiding away and burying your head in the sand is only going to make things worse and detach you from the world. For a surefire way to turn your frown upside down when you can’t face the world, try volunteering - whether it be reading to children at a library or helping out at a community garden, it’s a great way to take your mind off things and do something that will make you feel good.