Good morning lovely people. Let’s have a chat about mental health, again! It’s one of my goals in life to break the stigma, to make it something we can talk about, and more importantly, ask for help with.
In the Mental Health add-on to my Self-Love Workbook, I share a list of self-care activities that can specifically benefit your mental health. I wanted to share some of them here. If this resonates with you, go check out the workbook, there are a ton of insightful questions and tips!
Depression, anxiety, and other mental illness can have such an impact on your daily life and how you love yourself. It affects every aspect of your life. The way you talk about yourself, the way you see yourself, the way you function in your everyday life. It’s hard to love yourself when it feels like your brain in sabotaging everything that you’re trying to do.
I suffer from depression and anxiety and I’ve come to the point where I’ve been able to manage it pretty well, but I know that often, it’s not that easy and I still have my bad days too.
Taking care of my mental health allowed me to discover self-love.
I had to accept that while my mental illness is not in my control, my mental wellness is. I am responsible for trying everything at my disposable to get better, even on the days when I feel like I can’t get out of bed.
Self-care and having a nourishing routine have completely changed the way that I function and the way I think about my depression and my anxiety.
If you have anxiety, check out my anxiety workbook Breathe.
It’s important to make sure that you are supporting your own recovery. It means doing all of the things that you know you’re supposed to do. But sometimes, even when you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, the bad days creep up on us. That’s okay.
When you’re in a good place, make sure that you have all of the stuff and tools for when you’re in a bad place.
Have a plan, have a self-care ritual that helps. If lighting a candle is -1 to depression/anxiety then light that candle. Those little things that make a tiny difference – matter.
If I could give you one bit of advice when it comes to surviving your bad mental health days, those days when anxiety and depression make it difficult to get out of bed or function, it would be to find your thing. What’s your thing? I don’t know. For me, it’s usually this blog, the sound of the tap-tap-tap of the keyboard that gives me purpose and lets the anxiety and depression seep out of me. Drawing, painting, reading, puzzles, exercising, writing, yoga, gaming… there’s a thing out there that’s your thing.
- Your thing should be something that helps you feel better, not something that helps you ignore your feelings. When you spend an hour with your thing you should walk away feeling lighter and better. Pay attention to the difference. Sometimes a good Netflix binge of your happy show will work wonders, and other times it’s hours later, you still feel like crap, and you’ve eaten everything in your house. That makes Netflix not your thing.
- How do you find the energy/motivation? This is one of the most difficult tricks. Often bad mental health days include no motivation or no energy. Here’s where you have to summon every ounce of will you have to do the thing. You feel depression and anxiety start to grip you? Do the thing before it gets too hard. You’re already deep in that place? Try, try, and try again. Eventually, you get to the point where it’s automatic. Where your thing builds up resistance and immunity to those sinking feelings and your body/mind automatically trains itself to just go there.
Self-Care for Bad Mental Health Days
Take all medication as prescribed and if you have side effects, write them all down to discuss them with your doctor. Stay on top of refills and appointments. Taking pills everyday sucks, but if it helps you feel more human, concentrate on that.
Go to therapy. Many places have a sliding scale and some places have free programs. If in-person therapy makes you anxious look into phone or online therapy. It helps to talk to someone.
Stop isolating yourself. Reach out to people you adore, even if you’re feeling unlovable.
Make sure that you show up for all appointments that benefit your mental health.
Do the Opposite Feeling/Thinking/Action exercise. If you’re feeling a thing, do the opposite thing. Feel like isolating? Talk to some friends. Feel like crying? Watch your favorite comedy.
If you’re struggling with hygiene, use shortcuts like dry shampoo, mouthwash, deodorant, and baby wipes.
Don’t guilt yourself and ease up on the frustration. Chances are you get really frustrated and you feel bad about the way your brain misfires and the things you have difficulty with. Practice compassion for yourself. Mental illness is an illness. Love on yourself, especially on your bad days.
Reframe your thoughts.
This means taking a negative thought or experience and making it into a different story. Change the perspective. Add in “positive buts”. “I’m depressed and feeling like crap today but it’s an opportunity to catch up on my favorite show or cuddle with my pet.”
Be very aware of your triggers – people, places, and things. If you have to come into contact with a trigger have a self-care plan for after.
Develop healthier coping mechanisms. Bite your nails when you’re anxious? Drink after a stressful day? Binge-eat when you’re sad? Work on those things one by one and replace them with something healthier.
Keep a stash of protein bars or easy snacks for days you don’t really feel like eating.
Challenge your thoughts. When negative or destructive thoughts come into your head don’t be afraid to challenge them and get to the truth of those thoughts. They aren’t always real. Depression lies.
Self-validate when you’re having a bad day or when you get upset. You’re allowed to have bad days. You don’t have to feel happy all of the time
Think before you act. Impulse control is one of the things we struggle with. Whether it’s ditching responsibilities because of anxiety, self-destructive thoughts because of depression or ill-thought out ideas because of mania – take a step back and slow yourself down. Think before you act.
Ask for help. If you have trouble doing things like getting the mail, taking out the trash, or making doctor’s appointments, ask your friend or partner to do those things for you.