After the slow descent into partisan madness that was 2016, we could all use some little comforting activities to mitigate anxiety. Last year wasn't the worst year in history, despite what many hyperbolic tweets have to say on the subject... but it did start with the death of David Bowie and end with Barack Obama scrambling to save his presidential legacy while Donald Trump lurked in the wings. So, let's just say 2016 set the bar incredibly low.
So far, 2017 has been a little chaotic. Transitions of power usually are, but Trump's sweeping executive orders and, er, unorthodox attitude toward foreign policy have made the last few weeks unpredictable. But along with the temporary travel ban and orders to actually construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, there have also been moments of hope. The Women's March drew hundreds of thousands of protesters to Washington, D.C.; the National Parks have gone rogue on Twitter; and a federal appeals court has denied the U.S. Department of Justice's request to immediately restore the travel ban — and those are just the major news stories so far.
Basically, the past month has had its ups and downs. If the whiplash is starting to wear on you already, here are 26 little comforting activities to help with anxiety.
1. Create something. Play an instrument, write a short story, or even just draw some stick figures on a piece of scrap paper.
2. If someone's Facebook statuses make you uncomfortable, unfollow them. They'll never know, and you'll feel better without the negativity. You can do this by clicking the arrow in the upper right hand corner of a post from someone and selecting the "Unfollow" option. You'll still remain friends with them; their posts just won't show up in your news feed anymore.
3. Stop using electronics before bed. Their blue light has been shown to keep people awake longer, and browsing the news right before you go to sleep is likely to make it tough to get your zzzs.
4. Drink a mug of your favorite tea.
5. Learn to cook something new. (Or learn to cook something at all.)
6. Put a blanket in the dryer before you go to sleep, so it's warm as you drift off.
7. Take 10 minutes to watch clips from late night talk shows or cute animals; laughter serves as stress relief.
8. Watch the Smithsonian's Giant Panda cam.
9. Call your mom or another trusted adult (even if you yourself are technically a trusted adult, too).
10. Call your best friend.
11. Make a to-do list. Break the items down into manageable sizes, so you can check off at least one today.
12. If the news makes you anxious, limit the number of articles you read — maybe two or three a day.
13. Make a list of things for which you're grateful. Gratitude has been shown to help reduce anxiety.
14. Turn off your phone for an hour and read a book.
15. Go for a walk or run.
17. If you have a dog or know someone with one, take it (or them) for a walk somewhere you've never been before.
18. Go hiking.
19. Hang out with your friends; social support helps mitigate anxiety.
20. Put on a playlist and clean one area of your living space.
21. Blow bubbles. It's a throwback to childhood and gives you something calming to focus on.
22. Learn to cross-stitch.
23. Use your newfound crafty powers to create feminist art.
24. Watch your favorite tearjerker alone, so you can cry all you want.
25. Find a cat. Pet the cat.
25. Go to the library.
26. Keep a journal and fill it with good things that have happened to you or someone else. Try to use all the pages by the end of the year. Along the way, you might notice a change in your thinking.