I’ve struggled with mental illness for two decades, and that’s not something you can just shrug off. Though people have the best of intentions to help, they don’t always know how.
Suggestions like, “Why don’t you take a long bath?” or “Have you tried taking a walk?” can be patronizing. And to be honest, there probably isn’t anything you haven’t heard of if you’re struggling with your mental health. In my case, I was looking for extraordinary, unique, even strange ideas to brush out the cobwebs and set me on the path to progress.
I’m not saying journaling, pedicures, and meditation aren’t powerful tools for self-care. They’re all things I do regularly, actually. But there’s more than one way to approach any problem. And it’s important to remember that part of your self-love journey includes options, the ability to change your mind as many times as you want, and the freedom to be a little unusual if you feel like it.
So if you’re looking for something wacky to add a little skip to your step again, try these 10 ridiculous ways to show yourself self-love.
1. Carry confetti in your pockets
Every time you say (or think!) something that’s totally awesome, throw yourself a little celebration by tossing confetti in the air. Because, why not?! (Walk away for a dramatic exit immediately afterward if the situation calls for it.)
2. Work on body positivity by celebrating Naked Gardening Day
Or better yet, extend the unusual holiday that usually only happens every May and make it a recurring hobby. If gardening doesn’t interest you, consider turning another rudimentary hobby into a naked one.
3. Have a professional photo shoot wearing a wacky outfit
Think chicken-costume-level wacky! Don’t just stop there. Print a bunch of these photos, put the outfit back on, and go out in public. Take your photos with you, and when anyone stares, say, “Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” as you hand them a photo.
4. Get your body moving in unique ways
Forget everything you thought you knew about exercise — just do what you love. Dress up like Kevin Bacon and exclusively dance in abandoned warehouses. Dance while you’re walking through the streets of your city with headphones in your own silent disco (bonus points for dramatically lip-synching along).
Travel to Philadelphia and run the route Rocky took all the way to the museum steps, while you have a car follow you blasting “Eye of the Tiger” for musical encouragement. (Really, you can do this in any city, as long as you have the music!) Get the idea yet? As long as your body’s moving and you feel good, you’re doing it right!
5. Pretend to be a celebrity
Next time you get into a cab or use a shared ride service, wear big sunglasses, a floppy hat, a Groucho glasses and mustache disguise, and act really flustered because you “just escaped a horde of adoring fans.” Make up a name and casually mention a couple of (real!) examples of your accomplishments and qualifications.
Feeling bold? Offer the driver a selfie as a thank you for whisking you away. Then ask them to wish you luck as you leave for your next destination. Daah-ling, you’re such a star!
6. Don’t wear pants on the subway
If you’d like company doing this, join in with a group in your closest city that observes Improv Everywhere’s No Pants Subway Ride every January. Too cold to step out without pants? Just spend a day pants-free in your house or while driving around.
7. Cover all the mirrors in your home with notes that say, ‘I already know I’m beautiful’
If someone asks if they can take them off, tell them no — no because they look great already.
8. Send out an annual newsletter to your friends and family
Include a picture of yourself, a list of all the things you did that were awesome that year, and your goals for the next year. (Bonus points for custom postage that says “Your Name Is Awesome.”)
9. Dance at an event where there’s no music
Get things started by being the first one out there and do the “Macarena.” The “Cupid Shuffle” and “Dougie” are also awesome options.
10. Try on some clothes at a store, and model as a mannequin
If you can manage to go into a window without causing too much of a ruckus or getting into trouble, strike a pose for passerby! You can even ask an employee where they’d like you to model the clothes, since they look so good on you and you think you can boost their commission. Remember, a straight face is mandatory! (Or, at least, you can try to do it without laughing!)
Self-love is something we rarely spoke about a decade ago, and now it’s a relatively well-known term — which is amazing! One of the things I find to be the most important when loving ourselves is to acknowledge and celebrate the weird inside us. Everyone is weird. What’s weird to you might not feel weird, and that’s beautiful. Your quirks make you extra beautiful, and they should be celebrated.
If you’re struggling with mental health or just feel down in the dumps because you’re not like “everyone else,” remember: It’s empowering to be weird, nonsensical, and ridiculous. One of the most amazing declarations of self-love is to do what you want to do anyway, knowing someone might call you “weird.”
In return, you’re saying, “I don’t care what you think. This is me, and I love this part of me so much, I’m throwing it a party”. And that’s what self-care and self-love are all about.
Photo credit for all images: Maura Housley Photography
Mary England is the creator of Uncustomary.org, a resource for self-care and mental health guidance. After struggling with mental illness for 20 years and working in and studying the field of psychology for five years, she launched Uncustomary to share her personal and professional experiences with mental health in a way that translates to self-help. It’s her mission to make others happy and spread love and color all over the world She encourages everyone she meets to embrace their inner weird. Follow her on Instagram.