How I Look After Myself On A Bad Day.

As I’m sure you know yourself, some days, weeks or even months are worse than others and harder to get through. Whether you have a mental illness or not, sometimes life is tough to us.

What’s important during times like this is to fully listen to what your body is telling you for example, if you’re tired – take a nap, if you’re worked up over something – go for a walk (or anything else that calms you down).

Stop fighting so hard, sometimes we need to push ourselves to the limit and other times we need to press pause and look after our mental and physical well-being. Pressing pause means different things to all of us, it can mean taking 10 minutes to yourself and putting your priorities or worries to one side for those 10 minutes if not more.

Pressing pause simply means doing something for yourself, e.g I personally like to take a long, warm bubble bath and/or watch some of my favourite television or a film.

As someone who has and still struggles with anxiety, one piece of advice I have been given in the past is to chew gum when I’m anxious or worked up. This can reduce anxiety and lower cortisol which is basically our bodies natural fight or flight reaction (this goes back to the caveman days, it’s interesting to research in to this a little if you have the time).

During points where the anxiety is at a high I like to do breathing exercises, either ones online – gifs or youtube videos, or by simply sitting on the floor, breathing in for 3 and breathing out for 4. A strange but effective technique that has also helped me is to hold a rock (one I got off a pebble beach) and it helps ease that horrible floaty feeling you get when you feel anxious.

During times of hardship, you’d be surprised at how much it can help to talk it out with a friend or family member. Even if you don’t know how to describe what’s going on, say whatever it is that tumbles out. This also coincides with making those that are around me on the day, when possible, aware of how I’m feeling in case I come across as snappy or extra sensitive / easily overwhelmed.

As difficult as it can sometimes be, it’s important to ask for help when you need it, whilst also trying to ignore those thoughts that tell you you’re being annoying or anything else.

There’s something very comforting about a hot water bottle, to me anyway! I particularly like to have one when I feel crappy as my stomach tends to hurt. The joys aye!

Maybe this one is a bit bias, but writing really helps. Sometimes I can’t fathom a lot about how I feel and so it’s difficult to get it onto the page but I just write anything down, even if it’s words or sentences that make no sense. It’s simply the idea of getting it out of your mind and onto the paper.

Another one that’s underrated – adult colouring books!!! I love them. You can pretty much buy them anywhere but I’ve bought mine from the Tiger shop where they’re really cheap so win-win. I did love colouring books when I was a child so maybe this is why I personally find it so relaxing but it really works well as a distraction without having to concentrate too hard. Try it and see.

Distraction number 2 would definitely be watching or listening to someone who inspires me or makes me laugh. For me that is Will Smith – I won’t go in to that or you’ll never see the end of this post…

We all have those clothes or accessories or drinks or foods that we save for those “special occasions” that we never actually use on special occasions. I like to ‘treat’ myself and use one of those things whether it’s a luxury bath bomb or a nice box of chocolates that I’ve managed to leave untouched (very rare for me). We deserve to be pampered and treated on the hard days so just use that thing you’ve been saving.

Lastly, as difficult as it is, focus on the here and now, not what you’ve got to do or what’s going to happen in 10 minutes time / an hour / tomorrow. You are in this moment right now. You are in the present. You don’t need to worry about the future yet as it hasn’t yet arrived.

Ciao for now x

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Wellbeing writer, host for The Inspired Narrative podcast and mental health support worker.