If I’m passionate about anything it’s self-care. I think there’s something amazing about respecting ourselves enough to make time for ourselves. On a bad mental health day, however, making time for myself is the last thing I want to do. If I’m struggling to get out of bed, the last thing I want to do is be kind to myself.
You’re probably nodding your head in agreement if you’ve ever had a day or days like this yourself. The voice of depression is always there with handy reminders about how little we deserve self-care, too, which can make simple acts even harder.
I’m struggling with this a little at the moment, and I’ll admit, the depression voice took over for a while. It wasn’t until a few days ago I realised I needed to take control and alter my usual self-care routine. Nothing big, but I needed something that would make self-care more realistic for bad mental health days.
Realising I’m probably not the only one in this situation, I thought I’d create this handy guide of self-care you can do on bad mental health days.
That’s when I started reflecting on the things I do during my bad mental health periods and realised there were many, small things I could do to look after myself.
They’re nothing remarkable, but when you’re struggling, even the smallest of self-care activities can help, so I thought I’d share them with you today. I hope you manage to find some of these tips as helpful as I have found them.
Reduce Your To-Do List
If you read my productivity post, you’ll probably already know that I love to-do lists. I’ve been using them for years and I think it really helps when it comes to staying on track and getting everything done.
When you’re having a bad mental health day, however, these lists can seem overwhelming. Especially if, like me, you’re a fan of making your lists detailed.
Instead, on these days, I limit my to-do list by working out what is absolutely essential. This differs from person to person, but for me, it tends to be freelancing work. Even then, I make sure that I’m being more realistic than I usually would be about how much I can actually get done.
I read somewhere that the optimum to-do list has no more than 7 things on it. Adding more can make your day seem completely unachievable, leaving you reluctant to get started at all.
Even if you think you need to get more than 7 things done, start with that, and then add to it when you’re done if you still have energy or time.
Focus On Basic Self Care
Now, I’m the first to admit I love to be extra when it comes to self-care activities. Having a bath, doing a face-mask; most days I’m down o do them all. What other way can you feel genuinely refreshed, even on a budget?
On bad mental health days, however, additional self-care activities can take up essential energy. On days when this is more limited than usual, these activities are kind of futile. Instead, focus getting your basic self-care activities out of the way.
These basic activities include things like making your bed, getting dressed and showering–all of which can seem like big achievements on bad days.
Eat Little And Often
I can only speak for myself here, but I know when I’m struggling, my appetite goes completely out of the window. As someone who loves food, this is completely out of character, and a bit of a problem.
In the last few weeks, I’ve definitely been eating less than I normally would. Even if I do have the energy to make something, I’ll take a few bites and feel too full to continue.
Recently, I managed to get around my lack of appetite by stocking up on snacks. The most important thing here is to make sure they’re things you don’t have to prepare and can get to quickly.
I’ll admit that the things I’ve been snacking on haven’t necessarily been healthy, but my priority during the bad periods is that I’m eating anything at all.
Some of the things I’ve been snacking on have been plain wraps, salted popcorn, and chocolates.
Unplug From Social Media
I’ll be the first to admit that I love social media. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted, but as someone who works from home, it can sometimes be my only connection to the “real world”.
With that being said, I think we’re all guilty of underestimating the effect it can have on us. When we’re feeling negative already, seeing what others are doing can bring us down even more.
I’m also irrationally scared of saying something I’ll regret on social media when I’m not in a bad place. It’s not that I’d ever say something to hurt someone; more so that I’d say something negative when I really try to be positive online.
I also find socialising on social media quite exhausting at times. I’m autistic, so perhaps this is just because I struggle with social situations anyway, but I definitely need to take a step back from time to time.
I recently took a few days away from posting on social media, and completely cut down on the time I spent on there. You don’t necessarily need to go as long as I did, but even a few hours can do the world of good for our mental health.
Read A Book Or Watch A Film
Sometimes, bad mental health days can leave us feeling completely overwhelmed by our thoughts. On these occasions, distractions can be extremely helpful.
One of the most effective ways I’ve found of doing this is reading a book or watching a film to completely escape reality.
Whether you’re more of a contemporary lover or someone who enjoys a genre that is a little more out there doesn’t matter, as long as what you’re reading or watching is enough to take your mind off things for a while.
I recently discovered the YA dystopian series ‘Monument 14’, which has been really helping me through my mental health rut recently. I’m not usually a fan of series, but I’d really recommend this one.
Journal Your Feelings
I have a journal where I express my emotions and log things that have happened in my life through art. I’m not very good at it, but spending an hour or two on something makes me feel so much better.
Recently, however, I realised that I needed something more simple, where I can literally sit down and start rambling about how I’m feeling–good or bad.
I had one of these diary/journal things when I was younger and found it super helpful. When I was going through a rough patch with my anxiety at the beginning of the year, I started it again, and it’s become something I do regularly.
If you’re having a bad mental health day, why not open a word document or the notes on your phone instead? Sometimes, this requires less energy, but it still helps us to process our emotions instead of bottling them up.
I think treating yourself is such a good self-care activity. It shows we value ourselves enough to give ourselves something special. Despite this, it’s something I really struggle with.
If you don’t want to spend money on a bad mental health day, why not treat yourself to something else instead? Things like taking a nap, making your special meal, or simply spending an extra hour in bed can be just as rewarding.
Even if you do want to spend money, it doesn’t have to be anything expensive. I recently treated myself to a couple of secondhand books, and receiving them in the post gave me a temporary boost, which was nice.
Talk To Someone
Talking to someone when you’re going through a difficult time with your mental health isn’t easy. I completely understand. In fact, my innate reaction when I’m struggling is to isolate myself because I convince myself it’s the better option for everyone.
Having someone who you can talk to about how you’re feeling can be so relieving, though. It’s an opportunity to stop bottling things up and get things off your chest.
In my case, my confidant is my mum. She’s scarily good at knowing when I’m not in a good place and will do whatever it takes to get me to open up to her.
If you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone in real life, there are services that can help. I’ve heard great things about 7 Cups Of Tea and The Samaritans, but I’m sure there are others, too.
Go Easy On Yourself
Sometimes, the hardest but most necessary thing to do on a bad mental health day is to go easy on ourselves. It’s easy to project the guilt we feel onto the attitude we have towards ourselves, but this is the worst thing you can do.
Instead, try accepting that you are in the position you are in, and you are struggling. It’s hard, but you’re doing your best, and that’s really all you can do.
Something I’ve been doing in the last few years, on my really bad mental health days, is allowing myself to give in to my desires.
Occasionally, I’ll listen to my body if it tells me I don’t want to get out of bed one day. Other times, I’ll let myself eat rubbish because at least then I’m eating.
Whatever it is you’re being hard on yourself for, try letting it go, and accepting where you are now. It’s the hardest but most rewarding thing you’ll do to get through the bad periods.
What do you do to look after yourself when you’re having a bad mental health day?
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