Bad days – we’ve all had them. Days where you honestly can’t be bothered to get out of bed and all you really want to do is to sit in bed and watch TV series on your laptop while you devour an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked which, let’s face it, is the best ice cream in the world, ever.
So here’s a list of the ten things that never fail to make me feel better when I’m having one of these days.
1. Red lipstick
I don’t know what it is about red lipstick that does it for me, but when I’m having the day from hell I apply some and suddenly feel a little better about everything. It has to be lipstick – not gloss – and it strictly has to be red. No other colour will do it – pinks, browns, not even black (and believe me I wore a lot of that in my angsty teenage years).
Someone once said red lipstick was the little black dress in your makeup bag – and they were absolutely right. Haven’t had time to put any makeup on? Have a date? Had a big fight? Going somewhere you know your ex will be and you want to look amazing? Have to go out but you haven’t slept in two days and look like a zombie? Red lipstick. Hell, sometimes I even wear lipstick inside the house when I’m feeling particularly glum.
It’s like Gwyneth Paltrow once said: “Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”
2. The Little Black Dress
The Little Black Dress is considered the essential item of clothing by women, and not without reason. The ideal LBD should be a go-to garment which you can wear in practically any situation when all else fails. It should, therefore, be an item which you KNOW will make you look stunning. And the good thing is, LBDs come in all shapes and sizes so there really is no excuse for not having one. My own curve-friendly LBD is one I had shipped over from Torrid. It’s a plain, empire-waist, knee-length dress with pockets (LOVE!).
The best thing about the LBD is you really can do anything with it just as long as you have the right accessories. Wear it under a denim jacket and with Chucks or ankle-boots for casual situations; put on a blazer and some court shoes to wear it to the office; wear it with flip-flops and jangly earrings and bangles if you’re feeling particularly boho; wear it with killer heels, diamonds (anything shiny will work, really) and red lipstick for a date or a night out; wear a cardigan over it and a good-girl alice band to meet your boyfriend’s parents for the first time; throw on a leather jacket and some boots (DMs FTW!) if you’re going to watch a concert… honestly, the right LBD will take you anywhere. It’s no wonder, then, that when I’m having one of those days where absolutely nothing looks good, all I have to do is turn to my LBD and everything’s alright. There’s only one thing better than an LBD and that’s two LBDs.
3. Curling my hair
I have been ‘blessed’ with dead straight hair. I mean, it’s seriously straight – all I do after washing it is brush it and let it dry naturally. This saves me a lot of time when I need to get out of the house in a hurry, but it’s not very exciting, is it? I don’t even have a hair dryer at home. I do, however, have a pair of ceramic hair-straighteners, which I do not use to straighten my hair but to curl it. It may be a case of the grass (hair, in this care) always being greener (more interesting) on the other side, but sometimes I wish I was born with curly – or wavy at the very least – locks. Before I discovered the other use of hair straighteners, every attempt to curl my hair fell flat – literally. Once, I even spent two hours under the dryer with curlers wound tightly into my hair. My lovely red ringlets lasted all of five minutes.
Then I found out I could curl my hair using straighteners and with some luck – and probably more hairspray than is healthy – it would keep. Since I have a whole lot of hair, this procedure takes over an hour to do. I can only curl one-inch-wide sections of hair at a time so the curls are quite tight, so you can imagine by the end of it my arms are aching.
But without fail, curling my hair always makes me feel a lot better (and look a lot better too).
4. Listen to music
Music is an essential part of my life and I have a song (or ten) to fit any mood. If I’m sad and want to wallow in self-pity – which we’re all allowed to do once in a while – I listen to Radiohead or Porcupine Tree; when I’m feeling introspective I listen to Tori Amos; when I’m getting ready to go out it’s usually The Prodigy coming out of my speakers; when i want to relax I put on some good old Ella, or maybe some Rufus Wainwright; for fun I listen to Nirvana and the Beatles; I love Pink Floyd when I have time to sit and listen, and Regina Spektor, Led Zeppelin, Beethoven, Chopin, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Sigur Ros, Muse, Beirut (usually when I’m travelling), Metallica, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (sometimes, I just have to), even Infected Mushroom (their old suff), Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Otis Redding, BB King… I listen to pretty much any music that moves me in some way.
But there is one song that never, ever fails to cheer me up, and that is Gogol Bordello’s Start Wearing Purple. Never mind the massive crush I have on Eugene Hutz (I don’t know but I live with it) – that song just pumps me up and before long I’m tapping my feet, dancing around like a drunk old lady and singing along to the words – even the Ukranian ones.
5. A glass of wine (or a Jack Daniels with Coke)
Sometimes, after a particularly shitty day, one of my favourite things to do is get into my comfy clothes, and snuggle up with a good book or a good movie, and sip some good red wine. Its colour, its smell, the way it catches the light… these are all things that make me feel good. Wine will be the perfect accompaniment to a good meal – just imagine a tender fillet steak, brown on the outside and pink on the inside, with garlic mashed potatoes and roast vegetables, washed down with a new world Shiraz. Mmmm.
Failing that, a tall glass of Jack Daniels and Coke always does the trick. Mind, it has to be Jack – no other whisky will do it. Jack&Coke, my signature drink, makes me think of nights out, my heavy metal band days.
Of course, I’m not advocating heavy drinking here, or relying on booze as a crutch to make you feel good. But a glass of wine or a tot of whisky a day are proved to be beneficial to your health, so bottoms up!
One of the things I look forward to most is occasionally meeting a friend for a chat over dinner or some coffee. We splash out on a good meal – usually seafood, since neither of our partners eat the stuff though we love it – and a good bottle of wine, and spend a couple of hours chatting. Since we’ve been friends for over 10 years, we both know each other pretty well and so the conversation flows – from girl talk, to gossip (no, I am not ashamed), to deeper things like philosophy and politics. Meeting for a chat makes my entire week.
7.Books (both prose and poetry)
I’m sure those of you who’ve read my blog before have figured out I love books. I love shopping for them – one thing which always makes me feel good. Another thing I do sometimes is stand in front of my bookshelves and pick up books at random, smelling them (this is not weird) and reading random passages from them. Before long, I find an excerpt that means something to me. It’s like receiving advice from an old friend.
Sometimes, I’ll pick up a book of poetry and read a few poems. I’ve got old favourites – Eliot, Cummings, Neruda, Heaney, Plath, Shakespeare, Yeats, Keats, Blake… I also recently downloaded a wonderful app for my iPhone called, simply, Poetry, which includes a mood and topic spinner and gives a selection of poems depending on the mood/topic you pick.
8. Plan a holiday
When life gets to be a little too much, and I feel like I need a break, I plan a holiday. I think about expenses and whether I can take leave or not, then I start to dream a little. I talk to friends, try to find a travel buddy, book flights, plan a schedule and pretty much hype myself up about it. Even if the holiday is in six months’ time, knowing I’ve a break coming up gives me motivation to work towards it.
9. Make some jewellery
This is a relatively recent hobby – I picked it up about six months ago, just after Andrew and I moved in together. I taught myself some techniques off YouTube videos and online tutorials and I’m hooked. It’s quite a meditative activity as after a while your hands take over and your mind drifts off. It’s the same sensation I get when I draw – it’s just an hour or two of nothing to think about except what the next bead should be.
It always makes me smile to think that my jewellery will make somebody feel pretty someday. I believe a thing of beauty is a joy forever, and all my jewellery is unique.
By the way, that there on the left is a photo of a set comprising a necklace, a bracelet and a pair of earrings made with pearl-finish glass beads, amethysts, and silver-plated spacer beads.
10. Do nothing
You know what? Some days you just deserve to take a break. Once in a while, take the day to yourself. On a Sunday or on a day off, just don’t make any plans at all and veg out. Sit at home in your comfy clothes all day and watch TV series on your laptop while you devour an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. Forget about calories for just one day; forget about sweeping the floors or doing the dishes. Just pamper yourself. Soak in a bubble bath for an hour, have a nap, watch a good movie, snuggle up to your dog. Just do what you’ve always said you would do if you could ever spend an entire day to yourself.