I’m sorry about my absence yesterday, I promised I’d do a post every day but unfortunately that wasn’t possible yesterday for reasons that’ll explain as part of today’s post. The first paragraph could potentially (although hopefully not) be triggering to some so please be aware of this is you’re feeling particularly vulnerable but everything after that should be okay – make sure to read on for ten distraction/self care ideas 🙂
I spoke briefly on Tuesday about the glamorization of mental health and although this is quite nerve wracking to post because I’m aware I look god awful, the picture to the left is the reality of mental illness. It was taken after two solid hours of panic attacks and crying, wanting the world to disappear and take the thoughts that torment me with it. By time I’d calmed down my throat was raw, head pounding, lips slightly tinged blue from not enough oxygen, my hair a mess from pulling and lying down. This is reality, not a model beautiful girl silently pushing away a plate of food or slow and silent tears falling down a cheek – this is real…and it sucks.
Living with mental illnesses is hard. They’re unrelenting – you don’t get day’s off or to pick and choose when it’s at it’s worst and they can be completely and utterly exhausting. Some days you might feel drained and tired without realising why and it’s because so much effort goes into fighting your demons every single minute, sometimes without you even realising you’re doing it. And unfortunately these demons are invisible, no one else but you knows that they’re there most of the time and this can feel incredibly lonely sometimes. It’s important to remember that there are people who caren(so, so many people) and if you only ask I’m sure plenty of them would be more than happy to listen to you vent some of your worries, especially if they knew that it might help you feel even slightly better.
Whether you suffer from a mental health condition or not, you’re bound to have bad days and they can sometimes feel completely overwhelming. When you have a bad day it’s hard to remember that you also have good days as well and the hours can feel like years; below I’ve shared some of my favourite ‘self care’ tips and distraction ideas to hopefully help you muddle through.
- Get nostalgic with your favourite film/ TV show. Is there are film from your childhood that you haven’t seen for years but you used to beg to watch every day? If so then dig it out and put it on, you’ll be surprised by how many happy memories resurface. Or maybe there’s a comedy show that never fails to make you laugh or a mystery series that gets you thinking and out of negative thought patterns – If so, then why not buy the box set? It’ll feel like well worth the investment if it helps you out of your black hole. My personal favourites for bad days are Disney films or comedy shows, my favourites being Modern Family, Miranda and Friends. I also find that Sherlock or any other mystery/thriller is great for distraction.
- Read a book. This follows the same principles as above. My favourites are the Harry Potter Series, they’ve been with me through all my bad days (and most other days to be honest!), ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘All The Bright Places’.
- Get out into nature. People often say that nature is the best antidepressant, and while I don’t agree that anything can replace medication if you really need it, fresh air and the outdoors can be hugely relaxing. I appreciate that on really bad days even getting out of bed can feel like the hardest thing in the world, let alone going for a walk, but if you can I promise it will make you feel better. While you’re out try and notice the little things, a lady bird or a flower in a unexpected space and soon you’ll have become an expert in mindfulness without even realising! Here’s a link to a previous post about mindfulness in nature.
- Make a list. Okay, so I’m a slightly obsessive list maker, I’ve been known to make lists of lists I need to make but I really do find them helpful! When you’re stressed about things, I find it really helps to put them on paper and that way you can figure out what to do when, and prioritise the important things. I also put down simple everyday things like cleaning my teeth or going to school so that I can still tick something off and feel like I’ve been productive and achieved something, even if I didn’t manage to do much else. And if to-do lists still feel too anxiety provoking or overwhelming, why not try a ‘done’ list and write down everything you’ve done in the day (including the little things again) to help you recognise just how much you actually do and it’s okay if you haven’t achieved everything you wanted to -there’s always tomorrow.
- Write a letter. This is more of a distraction than a self care tip but it’s something I really enjoy doing. Living in the digital age we really don’t tend to write letters much when there are so many other ways of getting a message to someone quicker but there’s something really lovely about getting things back in the post – it helps dilute all the junk mail and bills. I have at least ten pen pals and they all send lovely things that brighten my day and I hope I do the same for them. Ask your friends if they’re interested in writing to you or you can even find them online (but be careful they’re trustworthy before giving out your address)
- Have a cry. Just let it out. This isn’t always helpful but if you feel like you’re holding everything in then it can really help just to let go. Crying doesn’t make you weak, it just maybe means that you’ve been trying to be strong for too long.
- Colouring. It might because it remind me of when I was little or it might simply be that it’s really relaxing but I find colouring very therapeutic. It’s become really popular over the past few years and there’s pretty much a colouring book for every interest or you could just try and find an adult colouring page online to print off.
- Have a hot drink. It’s actually been proven that warm drinks relax you – there’s just something really comforting about holding a warm mug in your hands (my friend and I used to call tea a ‘hug in a mug!’)
- Spend time with your pet. Be it a dog, cat or even a reptile, pets can offer you unconditional love and comfort. They don’t talk back, they don’t argue, they’re just always there, dependable and ready for snuggles.
- Get a good nights sleep. I know that this is often easier said than done and sometimes your brain just won’t switch off but if you can, try and get some rest. That way you can wake up the next day refreshed and well rested and ready to take on the world. You could even try a nap to help you get through the afternoon, they can really help you catch up on missed sleep and actually make you more likely to be productive when you wake up. Who said that nap time had to stop when you got older?!
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you’ve got some new ideas that will help the unfortunately inevitable bad days even that slightest bit easier to get through. You deserve happiness and it’s out there I promise, you just have to find a way to get it ❤
Again, apologies for not posting yesterday, I’ll try and do a double post at the weekend if I can.
Love and hugs,