Tuesday Beauty Tips: Soothing the Savage Beast

Published in: Beauty Tips

What do you do when/if you feel stressed out? Do you have any tricks to calm yourself down?

I ask because I kinda freaked out this morning.


Why? Because I sat down to write, and it felt like pulling teeth! — like every word that plopped out of me smelled like flamin’ hot, stinky poo!

And things got progressively worse as my old writing ghosts returned: “Karen, you’re boring and nobody likes you! You suck. Drunken poodles could write better leads than this,” etc., etc.

It was overwhelming, and I just started to cry.

I tried a few things to halt the downward spiral, things that have worked from time to time over the years … like the note I wrote to myself and posted on my monitor: “Relax! Freaking out doesn’t help you.”

After the note, I went outside and walked around for a few minutes, taking deep breaths. Pretty soon I stopped crying.

Back at home I listened to some music, and that helped even more.


First, I played Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten (the intro song for The Hills). I tried to imagine how the songwriter must have struggled with the lyrics, yet after toiling for hours and probably freaking out once or twice turned all of that energy into something beautiful and meaningful.

Then, I played Notorious BIG’s Juicy… Yeah, an unusual followup to Natasha’s song, but I found it oddly inspiring: “It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up magazine!”

Taking deep breaths, going for walks, writing myself notes, listening to music — all simple tricks (cliched tricks, in fact), but they helped. I’m feeling a little better now… 🙂

Do you ever feel stressed out or like you’re about to lose your sh*t? If you do, how do you calm yourself down? Do you have any soothing secret weapons? Please share.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Dao says:

    Yeah, I feel ya! I’ve been stressed out of my mind for the pass couple of days then I bumped into this wonderful thing: Origins Sensory Therapy Peace of Mind! It’s only $10 and upon application, I can feel the stress melting away. The peppermint really keeps me calm and focus, I really love it!

    I hope it’ll help you. Writing is so nail-biting hard! Sometimes I wonder why other types of writing are not as sweet as blogging?!

    Dao´s last blog post..NYC Chroma Face Glow: Glow like J.Lo

  2. lesley says:

    I feel stressed out all the time! I’m so sorry that you got so overwhelmed this morning!

    What I usually do when I get freaked out is, well, to do what you did: take a walk or a slow jog and just breathe deeply. I live near the Panhandle, so I focus myself on other things, like the dogs playing in the park, the wind swaying the tree branches from side to side, etc.

    Another thing I like to do, usually right after the walk, is take a nice warm shower or bath to relax my muscles physically.

    I hope this helps you and that you do feel better soon. We’re all rooting for you, Karen! You can do it!! =)

  3. pepper says:

    Sorry that you feel stressed! I’m writing my dissertation right now, and i know *EXACTLY* how you feel. For me, I have to mentally and physically remove myself for at least half-hour. It could be anything – taking a walk, cooking, bubble bath, watch a TV show. etc… as long as I am not thinking about work.

    Gives both the brain and the heart a chance to reset, which are equally important.

    If only Tabs could learn Shiatsu massage – now that would be nice!

  4. gina says:

    awww im sorry you felt so stressed this morning!

    When i start freaking out, i try to write myself cute little notes (kinda like the one you wrote yourself!) reminding myself everything will be ok or giving myself compliments 🙂

    i ALWAYS love your writing and i admire your sense of humor, your positive attitude brightens my day <3

  5. gina says:

    p.s i love the keep calm and carry on saying 🙂

    gina´s last blog post..Don’t Get Stuck

  6. Kate says:

    Music is my number one stress buster. There’s nothing more soothing to me than singing in choir or singing along with music on my iPod.

  7. Heidi says:

    If necessary, I cry like a baby and wallow in self-pity for a couple of minutes. I eventually snap out of it by going out for a job/walk or I give myself a makeover. Looking good helps me get over stress. Feel better!!

  8. Jessica says:

    Oh Karen…we all have our stresses….some have a little more, a little more often then others (I am one of them too). If it makes you feel better, you are the only Blog that appears on my iGoogle page so you are the first thing I see when I open my internet browser. I love your writing style, your videos and honesty everything you do!!! Keep it up…. and when you feel discouraged…listen to “Don’t Give Up (You Are Loved)” by Josh Groban…. that song is what is helping me get through trying to get into medical school.

  9. Laurie says:

    I get how you’re feeling. I often feel this way when I’m crunching on projects at work – and my sole job is to be creative for clients!

    If I’m at home – I give myself a face mask. If it’s night (or at least happy hour) – I drink some wine. I also take baths and read gossip mags. If I don’t have the luxury of doing any of those things because I’m stuck at work – I drink tea.

    I like how you have some Chanel sitting in front of you – that would help me de-stress too!

    Laurie´s last blog post..Need to Know Basis

  10. Ammura says:

    Stressing is just flat out awful for one’s mental health. Being a mother of two litte ones under the age of 4, working on my phd, along with a husband who travels ALOT, I totally empathize with you. SO there are times when yours truly freaks out!

    A few things that help me calm down and get perspective: exercise/ yoga, talk to someone who can give you perspective and calm you down(I usually talk to my hubby & my mom), deep breathing and meditation.
    I hope this helps and best of luck!
    PS: Your writing is a breath of fresh air. I really enjoy reading your blog. It always makes me laugh/smile!

  11. Sheila says:

    Wow, as I was clicking on the bookmark, I was thinking that I’d read your blog because it’s always so fun. Tell the negative talk to take a hike!

    When I’m having a freak out, I listen to my iPod really, really loud. Music is my escape and I need it to be loud enough that I can’t hear the negative talk or anyone else.

  12. syl says:

    Your plan of destressing sounds good- actually your website is my destresser; I’m currently taking a break from studying for a test to read your blog. I hope you’re less stressed, and I’ve been meaning to congratulate you on going back to school for writing! Good luck and thanks for being my study break

  13. JessicaF says:

    Well, I have absolutely no advice viz a viz the freaking but I find your writing articulate, insanely informative, and best of all funny. You’re also prolific – something I’m deeply envious of.

    I do know how much work it is to produce this kind of output and seriously – your blog rocks.

  14. Ashley Jean says:

    Whenever I get super stressed I watch The Big Lebowski. It never gets old and always makes me laugh. Half an hour or so just isn’t enough time-out to be effective, but a movie I can get lost in and really forget about what’s going on. Sometimes I also like to pour myself a glass of scotch 🙂 Or leave my computer and go buy some makeup! (Not saying the last two are healthy ways to cope, but they do the job).

    One way to deal with the writer’s block – if you’re not feeling particularly inspired, just write down all your main points to establish the structure and know what you want to say (like a straight news story). Then come back when you’re feeling better and add in the clever leads, the “haaaay”s and the “yo”s. Then you know you’ve accomplished all that you can at the moment. I find writing everything like I want it sound the first time difficult.

  15. Briana says:

    Exercise definitely helps. As long as I’m exerting myself hard enough that I can’t think about anything else.
    Also telling myself that whatever I am frustrated about at this moment will not matter even 6 months down the road. And it will certainly not matter in 50 years. I also set my watch timer to count down until the end of my day haha. I suppose the last trick might not work for writing though. Hope your writing goes better tomorrow 🙂

  16. Arianne says:

    Aww I hope your over the stress now. When I feel stressed, I just head on over to YouTube, type in “puppies” or “kittens”… then I’ll be set after 5 minutes.

    Always works. 🙂

    Arianne´s last blog post..What’s The Most Beautiful Part Of Winter For You?

  17. Glosslizard says:

    My coping mechanisms include (but are not limited to)…:
    Taking deep breaths
    Picturing places I really like to be
    Cuddling my cats
    Having a cup of tea
    Putting on makeup (Heh.)

    And when it gets really bad, I just tell myself that I’m allowed to feel upset/anxious/unhappy for a day and tomorrow will be better! It almost always is!

    Incidentally, I love your writing! You are always clever and worth reading! There are many of us who love you, and we are not nearly as critical of you as you are! 🙂

  18. Chris says:

    You have had a lot of big things going on lately and seems like it all just gathered up in a big storm cloud over your head.
    Sometimes when that happens I just let mmyself freak out for a bit – then take a nap, have a good cry, take a bath or drive – and it passes.
    Keep breathing!

  19. Erica says:

    shopping used to cure everything for me, but then i realized it caused more stress after seeing my bank statement. =P now, when stressed i often try to nap. when i first started teaching, i would take a nap every.single.day. after work. the trick is to step away from whats stressing you out for a bit and then come back to it when your head is cleared.

  20. Christina says:

    Karen, I’ll be entirely honest — reading your blog helps me de-stress! Just a moment or two during the workday, but it helps me relax, breathe, and laugh.

    Pepper, I finished and defended my masters thesis this past May — good luck with your dissertation! Your comment reminded me of another stress reliever — all through grad school, listening to Nelly’s Ride Wit Me was my cure (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TantIZIhPD8 if you want to hear it right now!).

    Anyway, Karen, your writing is great — MUCH better than that poodle’s — and creates a lot of happiness for a lot of people. Don’t be hard on yourself… it’s a cliche, but still true that you’re going to be your own worst critic.

    Christina´s last blog post..Sad Shia

  21. Briana says:

    Oooh, another thing I do, I try to write out a list of 3 Beautiful Things no matter how simple it might be. I got the idea from this blog http://www.threebeautifulthings.blogspot.com/
    I find if I do that it usually starts to lift my mood immediately 🙂

  22. Tekoa says:

    I’ve had similar writting experiences. Usually it sound like “Your essay is redundant and illogical! This essay will suck. You are a dim witted student and drunken Freshmen write better essays than this.” To get out of a bad brain funk I hug the nearest cat or fiance and take a break. If a crying session occured I usually eat some chocolate based icecream. I take it as a sign that I’ve been pushing myself too hard and leave it to the next day if I can.

    Tabs looks very big and huggable!

  23. Indian Girl says:

    Karen I hope you’re feeling much much better now. My stress releaser is a nice fragrant bath. When I’m at it , I try and keep calm think about the better things about life and just enjoy it. Once I’m relaxed …everything always seems much easier…

    Indian Girl´s last blog post..10 Hairstyles for Medium / Long Hair

  24. Shefali says:

    Hey Karen! I hope you’re feeling better. I totally have days like you did today and what I do is let myself cry. Crying actually releases endorphins into your bloodstream. Endorphins are mood elevators. I always feel better after a good cry. The other thing I do is indulge and let Hubs take care of me and take charge. It lets me “check out” and focus on something really benign, like watching TV.

    Since I’m a marriage and family therapist, I can personally and professionally sympathize with you. What I tell my clients when they are down is to think about all they have and all that others don’t. Actually write down a list. It’s always surprising to them. If my clients are down, we always go over the list. It never gets old and always makes them feel better, even if it’s a tiny bit.

  25. Tiera says:

    Listening to music can always change my mood. “Before He Cheats” is always empowering for me!

    And when I’m feeling particularly helpless, I like to tackle a bunch of seemingly meaningless tasks (random household chores like putting away the laundry or dishes, or even minor work duties like some overdue filing or cleaning). Not only does it take my mind off of the source of my worry, but also makes me feel accomplished (if only a little) and like I can now take on the world!

    Hope you’re feeling better, dear!

    Tiera´s last blog post..Child’s Play: Too Faced Smurfette Collection

  26. Miss QQ says:

    Hi Karen. Glad that you are feeling better. What’s that Chanel compact containing? 😉 I pull out my drawers containing my beloved cosmetics and admire and play with them when I’m feeling down.

  27. morgan says:

    Hi Karen, indeed relax! You’re wonderful, wonderful writer! xoxo Long time lurker slash fan.

  28. Karen B says:

    I love that you have an eeyore and a chanel compact at the bottom of your screen 🙂

    I usually put on some music, either really happy stuff like the Hairspray soundtrack or so or something quiet and calming such as my friend Daithi’s record

    Karen B´s last blog post..a thought

  29. Alison says:

    I feel stressed out a lot as I am trying to write my masters dissertation and I’m a terrible procrastinator!

    I always find that if I have to cry, a really good cry can help! Also I go for a long walk at a fast pace, the fresh air and exercise never fail to help. Or if he’s around I hug my boyfriend that always cheers me up.

    But of course the best thing to reduce my stress is to go make-up shopping whether going somewhere or on the internet, the only problem I find with that is it only lasts a few minutes until I start stressing about how much I’ve spent! LOL!

    I think you should always remember in times of writers block that your blog is hugely successful, you have loads of dedicated followers who value you opinions on products. You’re a great writer, it’s like listening to your friend and never sounds like you’re trying to sell a product or seem patronising like some other blogs can.

    I think that the number of people who leave such lovely comments is sure sign of how much you’re valued.

    I hope this helps make you feel better x

  30. YadiQ says:

    hi k

    i am so sorry to hear about this i actually went through an episode last night

    i will be 30 in 2 months and i feel like uggh about it

    heres my non freak out trick – let out anxiety with aggression

    all my martial arts and street fighting totally helps me cope with anxiety – can i say find a punching bag and pound on it while listening to your favorite song!! I swear you will be sooo poooped that only good things can come out of it the release of endorphins is a major plus!

    keep your head up girl ! may visions of chanel ;provide you with inspiration !

  31. Susan says:

    It used to help me (still does sometimes) to actually “write”, rather than “type” words to try and get my thought processes going when I had a big project or article due. Then, once I got going, go back to the computer keyboard. It also helped to go on an insane cleaning spree of my desk, closets, whatever, just to free out the “clutter in my space”. I still do the cleaning the desk thing when I have to work on my budget for my department at work!

    Good luck, take a deep breath, and know that you are doing what you enjoy, remember? 🙂 You are also a very entertaining writer, so don’t worry about that part!

  32. Heather says:

    I’m an auditor and when I first started my job I stressed out more than I ever did in college. The stress was so bad that I broke out all over my face. Not only was I mentally stressed out, but you could see the physical signs on my face.

    After talking to a colleague who always seemed to be calm. He imparted some great advice. Things aren’t as bad as they can be. Putting my situation in perspective to some of the things that are going on around the world, made me appreciate my situation. From then on, I always think how fortunate I am to live the life I have.

  33. Stephie says:

    Listening to music totally helps. I just pop on John Mayer’s Your Body is a Wonderland and then suddenly all my worries go away. hha. Getting a hug from my boo, helps too 🙂

  34. Eileen says:

    Karen, just wanted you to know that your blog made my top 10 list of favorites discovered in 2008. I no longer dread checking my email and the daily 200+ messages I receive for work and life. In fact, finding an email update of your blog brightens my day and motivates me to try out new application methods and products. Thanks for your friendly, chatty, endlessly helpful blog – you’ve made my day so many times! Please keep on doing what you do!

    P.S. On bad days, hanging out with my favorite lab mix, Sam, helps me tremendously. One look at those understanding and loving eyes, and I feel worthy once again.

  35. Daya says:

    Hi Karen,

    I hope you are feeling better about things. I had a bit of a breakdown myself this morning, so I called my sister to vent. Usually, listening to music (the loud rock kind) helps!

  36. Nancy says:

    When I melt down, I tend to turn on the tears, too. 🙁 I usually turn on the iPod. Sometimes I’ll read blogs–yours always brings a smile! Hope things are going better for you!

    Nancy´s last blog post..Estee Lauder Spring 2009 Makeup Collection: Fuchsia Now

  37. Louise Gray says:

    Do you know that you are a bundle of beautiful positive energy?
    Louise says quit that cryin’ right now!!!! We all feel stressed and down at times. But then we have to focus on the inner us. Meditation is a great way to get in touch with the real you. Most of us do not like our book covers. We are complaining about our skin, our hair, our weight, well you name it. But that is not the real us. Take a deep breath in and hold, then a deep breath out and hold. Don’t think thoughts. Just still your mind and see if you can do it for 15 minutes. Or exercise is a great way to blast those blues. Well, we all have our meltdowns. But whatever is jaggin’ your wires, as we way in Pittsburgh, “This, too, shall pass.” Love you deary, Louise

  38. Karen says:

    Hi Louise Gray,

    Thank you for this note, homie. You are so right — deep breathing really helps!

  39. lexi says:

    This may sound corny but i look at pictures of my daughter, therefore my cube is covered with her pictures!

  40. Marisol says:

    I feel ya on being stressed. What I do to destrees or keep calm is to listen to my favorite tune and just rock out.

    When I am at work, I like to go on a walk for about 10 minutes or so. Being outside helps clear my mind and forget whatever is going on.

    Marisol´s last blog post..Full of Hope

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