So far this morning I’ve suffered through a cold shower while the outside temperature is minus four, broken one of my favourite mugs, and taken ten minutes (and wound up with one bright red eye) to get an eyelash out from behind a contact lens that didn’t want to budge. Not the finest of starts to any day. So now is a great time to talk about something that plagues us all, but we don’t often discuss it in more detail than ‘it’s been one of those‘: bad days, and how to employ self-care to deal with them.
What exactly is self-care?
If you’re not tuned in to the mental health and wellness areas of the media, you may still be in the dark about something that sounds relatively self-explanatory – and it pretty much is. Self-care is finding ways to help yourself when you’re in need, and this can be related strongly to physical and mental health. Mind has a great section on what self-care is and some tips on how to get started.
We’ve all had them – days that start out terribly, and just continue on from there. Sometimes they can be a hangover from the day before, if worry or anxiety or PMS or anything is playing on your mind. Sometimes when you feel utterly awful, self-care is the last thing on your mind – and normally that’s when we need it the most. For me, 99% of the time a bad day is caused by anxiety, and that in itself is something I tend to keep on the QT or pass off as something else – until recently when I decided that instead of bottling things up I’d write about them for the whole world to see. Funny, huh?
I thought I’d write out a short list of self-care tips that have proven really helpful for me in the past when I’m dealing with a really foul mood, a bout of anxiety or just a general ‘WTF is today’ mood. This list won’t help everyone, since we all deal with things in our own particular ways, but this is what helps me if I’m feeling particularly low and need to be picked up.
- Netflix and binge. I can’t be the only one who reaches for Netflix every time they feel crappy? Right now I’m marathoning Orange Is The New Black and the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy (tissues, anyone?). Candles lit, curtains shut, chocolate bar in hand, Christmas tree lights on, the evening is set. The only word of advice I have is limit whatever you’re watching to a certain timeframe or amount of episodes, or you’re likely to waste the day completely or stay up hideously late and in return feel worse than you did before.
- Get up and get out. The polar opposite to disappearing into your sofa with a bowl or popcorn and the remote? Getting up and going outdoors. Having a dog is a great way to force you outside, as the damn things seem to need walking all the time, and having a companion is always preferable to walking solo. I love a good jog, or a hot and sweaty yoga session, both will never fail to clear my head.
- Escapism. Reading is it for me, but some people prefer music, art or movies. Anything that takes your mind away from where you are, and transports you somewhere far away is incredibly therapeutic. I’ve always been an advocate for art classes for those with depression/mental health issues, as I’ve seen some people come away feeling relaxed and rebooted, so anything you can do in your own home/surroundings to achieve that is something to work on. Adult colouring books have been a huge hit in recent years along with mindfulness and meditation apps. Headspace is great if you’re a beginner and need some guidance.
- Reach out. You know how they say that talking helps? It’s true. On many occasions, I’ve dug myself into a pit of depression over something, sometimes lasting days, and waited too long to talk to anyone about it. Whether your worries are based on legitimate concerns or not, talking to a friend can help alleviate the feeling that you’re struggling on alone. Sometimes a ten-minute phone call does the trick, sometimes a trip to the shops, or an hour-long Facetime session. When your friends are scattered everywhere from down the road to the opposite side of the globe, it can be hard to coordinate schedules, but good friends are always there no matter what.
- Little things, big results. Shower, coffee, tidying the kitchen, playing with the cats – there will be unlimited things that you do daily which give you a small lift, so go do them. Even if you just had a cuppa ten minutes ago – have another. Have a bath with rose petals and a glass of wine. Snuggle with your pets under a blanket. Whatever works, no matter how small.
- Set a goal, and make a start. A lot of the time, feelings of sadness and failure stem from not feeling adequate. I can tell you right now: those feelings are not real, and you are ALWAYS enough. But I know how easy it is to succumb to a negative mindset. So setting a goal and hitting it, however small, is a great way to boost your self-esteem. Anything from a trip to the shop, paying that bill you’ve been putting off, or hitting a PB, whatever works for you.
- Plan a trip. With friends, family, or significant other; it doesn’t matter. It can be something free if money is tight, and something as simple as taking the dog to a new location for a walk. Get the diary open and a date pencilled in. Go to the park or a museum, anything free will do just fine, as long as you get to spend time with those closest to you.
Let me know what self-care tips you employ on a bad day, and if anything on my list helps you as well as it helps me!