Which Beauty Rituals Make You Feel Better When Nothing Else Does?

When I'm feeling really anxious, I'll pull out my big tin of false nails and get to work.
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Publish date:
July 4, 2016
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depression, anxiety, fake nails, Rituals, Self-care

A lot of the time, when you feel too sad or too anxious to participate in life, makeup isn't high on your list of priorities or things you want to do. Sometimes, though, it can be your friend in those very situations. Something to do to make you smile for, like, a second, or to take your mind off of all the pointless cyclical thoughts. It can be a source of comfort for a little while, because it's mostly ritualistic and simple, and there isn't a lot of pressure. A lot of self-care guides recommend participating in soothing or familiar activities that can take your mind off of your own damn self, and I think makeup is a good option.

I'm not saying that putting some blush on will solve anything; I'm just proposing that, in the privacy of your own home, whether it's the sads or the anxious shivers, beauty rituals can ease some of the discomfort, if only for a few minutes.

I don't know about you, but when I'm feeling really, really anxious, I can't get anything done — especially the thing I'm anxious about (or, more accurately, the thing my baseless anxiety has latched itself onto and is trying to convince me is the cause). In these times, the best thing to do is to take a hundred steps back and do something completely different. And when I'm anxious, I'm probably going to solve it by doing my nails.

For me, doing my nails is the least stressful thing on earth because getting it wrong means absolutely nothing to me; there's no pressure for my nails to look skinny or blemish-free, so I won't start focusing on additional stressors.

When I'm feeling really anxious, I'll pull out my big tin of false nails and get to work. It takes time: finding the right sizes for the right nails, filing them to shape, preparing your own nails, attaching them, choosing a colour (which is an enjoyable and fairly consequence-free decision that doesn't cripple me) and then painting them. My hands and mind are kept totally busy and, at the end, it all looks cute, too. If I'm feeling so anxious that my mind won't stop running, I'll put something on the TV and do my nails at the same time. (The best anxiety-curing show is obviously Parks and Recreation, and any awful romantic comedy works, too.)

Another great anxiety fighter is braiding. I think that's why I've gotten pretty good at braiding my hair — it just gives me something to do when I can't cope with much else. French braids and Dutch braids are especially good for this and, if you have long hair and want to be occupied for a really long time, fish plaits are optimal (they honestly take forever).

When I'm feeling super-sad, I generally avoid makeup and focus more on nothing else but the way my own brain can turn on me so harshly and without warning; but sometimes, I can encourage myself to do small things to make myself feel a little bit better. One of these things is washing my hair. It's easy enough that you can do it without thinking about how to do it but not so automatically mindless that you'll have time to dwell on your own gloom.

When I was going through a really rough patch, I used to schedule hair-washing as an activity to do on a specific day — something to accomplish — and I'd feel good about myself when I'd done it. It's good to have little goals when big goals are too much, and hair-washing is a great one. For me, one of the worst things about being depressed is the feeling that there's too much time in a day to fill and nothing to fill it with, so the half-hour spent washing my hair, plus extra time to dry it, made me feel like I was using up some of the never-ending time.

Playing with makeup is also worthwhile if you're feeling blue. If you don't have an event or somewhere to be at the end of it, doing your makeup is pressure-free fun. You can play with colours and lipsticks that you maybe wouldn't wear normally. I never, ever wear my blue lipstick out, but, when I feel glum, I'll pull it out and play with how I might wear it out if I ever did.

You can be really heavy-handed here and apply that electric blue eyeshadow, too. I'm normally sort of conservative with makeup — especially eyeshadows — but experimenting with new looks has the bonus of also finding a new style that you may want to wear out sometime. Just go to town on yourself (I don't think that means what I think it means). The only thing I'd caution against is trying to get your skin to look perfect or attempting to copy a really advanced makeup look from a runway or something, because, if you're anything like me, you'll just end up being more hard on yourself and it won't be a way to get away from the noise in your head.

So, yes, makeup can be your friend during a dark time. It's certainly been mine. Take some time to care about yourself, no matter how small of a difference it may make. Honestly, even just a few minutes of relief is worth it in the end.

  • Do you have any makeup rituals that ease your anxiety or blues?
  • Is there any product or colour that you only use when you're trying to cheer yourself up?