Over the past year I’ve really been paying attention to what makes me feel better on days where my mental health is in a bad place and what makes me feel worse. I now try to put the things that make me feel better into practise regularly in the same way somebody might go to the gym three times a week to maintain physical health.
I’ve found that by making a conscious effort to self-care I’m helping look after my mental health as best I can. Everybody self-cares differently but today I wanted to share with you some of the things that help me.
Switch Off Social Media
Being a blogger I find that I’m constantly on social media sharing posts, replying to tweets and interacting with other bloggers. As much as I love doing these things they’re incredibly time consuming.
I try to switch off from social media for an hour every day. It’s surprising how much more energy I put into something when I’m not checking Twitter every 5 minutes. I love having an hour to focus on myself or give someone I love my undivided attention. It makes me feel so much more present in my life.
Change My Diet
I’m far from a healthy eater but when I notice that my mental health is flagging I consciously try to eat better.
Food can play a massive role in moods and hormones. I find that drinking caffeinated drinks when I’m anxious can make my anxiety so much worse so I try to cut back on those and switch to water instead.
For me it’s about making small, easy, changes that go a long way in improving my mood.
Tackle One Small Thing
Although ignoring everything on my to do list is incredibly tempting on bad days I find that I feel better in myself if I accomplish something. I look for the smallest task on my list and do it. It can be something as simple as washing up or watering the plants. I find that doing one small thing makes me feel better about not being able to manage the big things and gives me some much needed confidence.
Take a Bath
When I’m feeling depressed it can take a lot of effort to do simple things like maintain personal hygiene but something that always makes me feel better is getting clean and my favourite way to get clean is by having a bath.
I like to really treat myself when I take a bath by using some gorgeous products from Lush. I make it a really luxurious experience. I especially like using products that are going to help me to relax and unwind. Not only do I come out of the bath feeling clean but also rested after having some quiet, pampered, me time.
Watch a Sitcom
If I’m having a hard time with my anxiety I can find it really hard to concentrate which makes it difficult to relax with a book or a movie but I do love to watch sitcoms.
One episode usually only lasts for 20 minutes so I don’t have to concentrate on something for a long period of time and when I’m in that mind frame it feels so good to laugh! If you need some recommendations my favourites are New Girl, Mom, The Office and Friends.
Colouring in switches my brain off like nothing else. It’s the only time where I fully lose myself and forget about my problems. I can get lost for hours in a world where only shapes and colour exist and sometimes that’s just what I need if my anxiety is making me overthink things.
Notice earlier how I said switch off social media and not the internet? That is because I love Buzzfeed! If I’m feeling down I especially love their quizzes, sometimes you just have to know which Starbucks drink you are y’know? They’re fun, silly and pointless and can be a really great distraction.
Play With My Dog
It’s been scientifically proven that pets reduce stress and anxiety so playing with my dog is a no brainer for me.
Spending time with her makes me so happy and it’s an added bonus if we play fetch outside because it’s one of the only times that I’ll actually willingly do some form of exercise and we all know that exercise is great for depression.
I used to struggle with my mental health alone and bottle up my feelings but over the past year I’ve been opening up more and have learned that it’s okay to lean on people and get some support when you need it.
Rather than sit alone with my thoughts I’ll talk to my mum, best friend or counsellor about how I’m feeling. Sometimes just the act of opening up and getting stuff off my chest can make me feel better.
Having open and honest conversations is so important to me and goes a long way in making my mental health manageable.
These are some of the things I do to self-care my mental health. If you’re not sure where to start with self-care, try keeping a diary of the things that have helped you when you’ve been having a bad time (and of the things that have made you feel worse so you know what to avoid.)
Get to know your mental health really well and start working more of the things that help you feel better into your schedule. You can either spread them out over the week or take out one day to have some me time.
Looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health and although self-care doesn’t solve all of life’s problems, knowing what works for you allows you to put strategies in place to help you cope and if that can make those bad days feel a little more bearable, then it’s worth it.