Self Care with Mental Health
So I’ve seen a lot of Self-Care January posts this month – which is great – but a lot of them don’t take into account that some of us suffer with what can be debilitating mental health issues and so I thought I would just write a little post about a few ways in which I self-care when I’m struggling to keep afloat.
Celebrate the Little Things
This is something that I almost always preach about because I think it is just so important. Sometimes it is just doing something small and accomplishing it that makes me feel better than accomplishing something big. As an example, just last week I managed to walk from my bedroom to the bathroom in bare feet. Something that most people would do without thinking about but something I had not been able to do for almost five years.
So try and do something small. If you’re feeling so depressed you can barely get out of bed, maybe try doing one sit-up, or raising your arm into the air and holding it for five or ten seconds. Then when it’s done, allow yourself to feel proud of yourself for managing to do something that you maybe couldn’t do yesterday.
Instead of one day at a time, take it one step (or little thing) at a time.
Enjoy a Hot Drink
Now, as a big coffee lover, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you that this is here. Also I am British and so it comes naturally to me to suggest tea for almost every occasion but I honestly do believe in the power of hot drinks in making a person feel a little more alive. So if you like coffee or tea, get someone to make you one. Or if you’re craving chocolate, there’s also a good hot chocolate. Don’t forget about those other glorious and relaxing hot drinks of Horlicks or hot squash.
I’m not a scientist so I cannot guarantee that this will help at all but I honestly believe that depression makes you cold, and a hot drink can warm you up. Both literally and emotionally. And if it doesn’t… well, you’ve had a nice drink at least, right?
Binge a TV Show
When I am sick, binge watching TV shows is my favourite thing to do. Whether it’s a new show or a re-watch. I like that I can just turn on the TV and focus on it for hours. Netflix and Amazon Prime are brilliant for this as they just play the next one automatically for you without you even having to move a muscle. NowTV or DVDs are a little trickier but still worth it if they’re your only option!
I think the thing that works with binge watching is that you get truly sucked in and invested in the show. It means that while you fully immerse yourself, you can forget about your own thoughts and feelings for a short while. I also think that expressing emotions because of a show you’re watching is probably incredibly therapeutic. (Again, I am not a therapist so I just assume this!)
Read a Book
Of course, it wouldn’t be my blog if this wasn’t on here! I know that when I get really bad mentally, reading is sometimes the first thing that goes out the window. Preferring to binge watch TV shows instead! But I also know that reading a good book can have the same affect as binge watching TVs. You get pulled into another world and can escape this one.
Naturally the issue with reading a book when you feel exhausted just being awake is that holding the book, using your eyes, etc can be incredibly difficult. Which is why I also highly recommend audiobooks in this situation. You can just let someone narrate to you while you close your eyes and imagine the new world around you. What could be better than that?
Create a Done List
This is actually not something I have personally done before but I’ve heard that it is really helpful when you’re struggling as it can help you feel more accomplished. And that is to write a done list instead of a to do list. Which can have on it whatever the hell you want it too to. For example, on my worst kind of day, my done list might just say “ate breakfast, had a shower, watched gilmore girls”.
The reason this works better than a to-do list is because if you don’t manage to finish a task on your to-do list it can make you feel like a failure, that your mental health is ruining things. But if you write a done list then every little thing (see, little things are good!) becomes an accomplishment and not a waste of time.
Remember it’s okay to do nothing when you’re ill
Lastly, but certainly not least, this is my biggest piece of self-care advice. You are only human. If someone had the flu and couldn’t get out of bed, would you call them a useless human being? Of course not! Because they’re ill and their body needs them to rest. And the same goes for you if you’re having a bad mental health day/week/month/year, etc. You are not useless or worthless or a failure, you are simply ill and you mind and body simply needs some rest and that is totally okay.
After all, you wouldn’t exactly tell someone to continue walking on a broken leg, would you? Then give yourself some credit until your brain is healed. Because it is so important that you get better and we would much rather you take the time to do that then feel rushed to do things you’re not ready for, okay?