25 ways to comfort yourself when you don't know what's wrong

It's one of those days. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be this way. There were good plans, happy ideas, schedules aligned, preparations made. But for whatever reason, you just don't feel good.

Your heart hurts.

There's a pit in your stomach.

People are being rude.

But seriously, there are cupcakes in the break room.

And you're still sad.


I'm sorry that today has been an extra empty bag of chips.

But I'm here to provide you with some ways to help and some reasons why days like this can slowly grow into big puddles of #@$%.......IF we let them.

25 ways to comfort yourself when you don't know what's wrong

We try to control every aspect of what we feel

The moment we get sad, many of us instantly think "nope, not me, this can't happen, I have an ENTIRE Pinterest board full of positivity quotes, let's control this, fix this, end this."

The problem is that you're human and humans feel emotions. All of them. Even the sad ones. Even the random-no-explanation ones. When we set expectations for how we think we should feel or how we're allowed to feel in a given moment, then we take away our ability to mentally heal. We take away our own permission to allow ourselves to think and feel through the complexities of being human.

I get it. You don't want to feel sad. I don't want you to feel sad, either. But it's important to let feelings move through you.

When we allow feelings to move through us, acknowledging them without immediately reacting to them, we can create a stream that flows freely through us. The minute you say "no" to a feeling, an obstacle appears in the middle of your mental stream. It becomes harder to let things go and move forward.

Acknowledging sadness and uncomfortable feelings doesn't mean we are agreeing to them. It means we see them. I like to think of them as clouds passing by in the sky of my day.  If it's raining I don't have to lay there under it, but I do have to acknowledge that my clothes are going to get wet momentarily.

We worry that if we cannot explain the WHY or how we feel, then it will never pass

Psychology is fascinating and understanding the way our minds work is something I'm constantly studying. But no matter how much science is thrown in front of me, some days I won't ever know what's wrong and I give myself permission for that to be okay.

It's easy to assume that if we know WHY we feel a certain way that we are pretty much "there" in terms of solving it and "fixing" it. The truth is that rarely do responses from ourselves or others immediately fix a feeling.

Feelings have various lifespans. Most are fleeting, others drift in and away, and some last over a period of days if not more in underlying ways. Feelings have to feel. They have to be processed and felt both mentally and physically in the body in order to come and go.

We use the feeling as "evidence" for why everything else is bad and why we should be even more upset

I'm so guilty of this. It's like feeling sad/upset gives us this superpower to see EVERYTHING ELSE in the world that also makes us sad/upset/disappointed and has us seriously considering running away in a van full of ice cream.

When despair hits, it's like a magnet for more. We attract what feels safe, makes sense, seems normal. It's totally okay to have days or moments where you want to acknowledge all the bad things, but it can be hard to pull yourself back out if you stay down there for too long.

25 ways to comfort yourself

So what are the best things to do to comfort yourself when you don't know what's wrong? Here's a list of 25 things you can do:

  1. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you need to feel

  2. Let go of trying to analyze it and just be with it

  3. Get physically comfy - put on something that makes your body feel at ease

  4. Learn to build self-compassion by speaking to yourself as you would a friend

  5. Close your eyes and think of your favorite place

  6. Ask a friend to remind you of something ridiculously funny

  7. Make some tea

  8. Drink extra water and visualize yourself flushing out negative feelings and energy you don't need - the water will help give you extra energy, too!

  9. Put on your headphones and listen to music that makes you feel good

  10. Go for a walk in nature without your phone and soak in the atmosphere

  11. Revel in the joys of escapism. Give yourself permission to dive into your favorite shows on Netflix that make you smile

  12. Settle in with a good book

  13. Ask for family or friends to help you out. If you have roommates or a partner, ask them if they can make you dinner or take care of something for you.

  14. Tell your coworkers you're feeling off and allow yourself to be vulnerable, chances are if you have a bomb work crew, that they will do something to make you feel better, even if it's just listening

  15. Make a list of any of the following things to give yourself a healthy distraction:

    • Things that make you smile

    • Movies you want to watch again

    • Places you'd love to drive to if you had an entire day on the open road

    • What you're grateful for

    • Nice things that people have said to you

    • Memories that warm your heart

  16. Wrap yourself in a giant blanket and curl up under the covers in a dark room. Don't worry if it sounds melodramatic if it makes you feel comforted and safe, it's worth it!

  17. Spend some time coloring!

  18. Jump on Pinterest and create a board of things that make you feel comforted and at peace

  19. Watch cute animal videos

  20. If you have pent up energy, take yourself to the gym, pool, or walk it out

  21. Take some time for self-care. Paint your nails, take a long bath, do what makes you feel pampered.

  22. Light candles and cuddle up with a pet

  23. Invite your friends over for a board game night

  24. Bake something or make yourself dinner. If you're not someone who's into cooking, order your favorite take-out and watch an awesome movie.

  25. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself today. It's okay to put things aside. Taking time to invest in you is important

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Sarah Steckler