Let’s Talk about Bad Mental Health Days
Have you ever had a bad mental health day… we probably all have at some point. They kinda really suck to be honest.
It’s those days where things just don’t feel right. You might feel anxious for no apparent reason, you might find yourself with zero motivation to do anything. Heck, you might not even want to get out of bed.
Does anyone else have days where despite your best efforts, you coping mechanisms fail you. It is so hard to stay positive, it’s hard to muster the discipline and motivation it takes to get through the day.
Bad metal health days are a fact of life for many of us. The trick is finding ways to cope with them. Maybe we can turn it around so while we might have a bad mental health morning the rest of the day is somewhat alright.
A Quick Note
This is a list of things that can help you cope with infrequent bad mental health days. While these techniques might help people with more serious issues, it’s not a replacement for counseling or professional support.
Ways to Cope with Bad Mental Health Days
Self care was one of the hardest concepts for me to wrap my mind around. I’m a social worker in my offline life, so that’s not an easy thing to admit. But for a long time it felt forced. Ugh, today sucked. I guess I’ll have a bubble bath and drink some wine. Self care was something I did reluctantly because I knew it was something I was supposed to do.
I know I’m not the only person who feels that way. In some ways I was convinced self care was something I had to earn and after a bad day, I certainly didn’t feel like I earned anything, in fact it felt selfish and indulgent. The truth is I was looking at it all wrong. Good days are, in some ways, a reward for good self care.
Self care looks different for everyone. But some places to start can include reading, yoga, journaling – here are some free self care ideas if anyone is interested.
It can be a simple (although some days it feels anything but) as making sure your physical needs are met. Taking your medication, drinking enough water, eating three meals a day are very important self care activities especially if you’re in the midst of a bad mental health day.
Setting small goals (like taking a shower) builds momentum and can help push you out of the slump. It’s addicting, once you’ve showered, you might as well put clean clothes on and once you’re done that, you’re probably not going to be as tempted to crawl back into bed. There’s a bit of a snowball effect.
The important things is setting goals and accomplishing them. No one is going to effectively study for the LSAT or start a new business when they’re having a bad mental health day. In fact, trying to do those things will lead to feeling like a failure and probably be a catalyst for further mental health days.
I use the word selfish very loosely here because it has so many negative connotations. When you’re not feeling like yourself and things are looking kind of dark in your world, there is nothing negative about doing everything and anything you need to do to get out of that place.
We give a lot of ourselves to others, for much of our lives we put other people first. But on bad mental health days, it’s important to stop for a while and focus on yourself.
During those times it is more important than ever to put yourself first. There’s no advantage to feeling guilty over not getting our of bed all day. The only thing you can do is work to make the most of it and turn things around.
Learning to love your self and finding ways to believe that you’re a valuable person who deserves all the good things life has to offer is an amazing accomplishment. It’s not an easy feat but it’s probably on of the best things we can do for ourselves and our overall mental health.
Shower put on Clean Clothes
Look, you’ve probably already decided you’re going to get out of bed today. You might as well make the most of time, take a shower. Enjoy the feeling of the warm water. Imagine the water washing all your negative thoughts and feelings away. You’ll find yourself feeling a whole lot better.
Doing something like taking a shower leads to feelings of accomplishment. Once you’ve done one thing, you’ll be well on your way to doing another and another – like putting on clean clothes and brushing your teeth.
But be gentle with yourself, if taking a shower is all you have the strength to do today, that’s ok too. Celebrate the things you did do, whatever they may be.
Celebrate Your Past Successes
This is something you can do even from the comfort of your bed. Think about times in your life when things were going well. Remember things you’ve done and things you’re proud of.
Even during the best of times, it’s easy to get lost in thoughts of what we don’t like about ourselves and what we could have done better or the dreaded list of what we should be doing. When we’re already feelings down those thought do nothing but push us further down the rabbit hole of negative thinking. It’s self destructive.
Remind yourself that you’re valuable, appreciated and needed. Create a folder of positive text messages, emails and even voice mail that makes you feel good about yourself. Hearing how other people feel about you can help put things in perspective and leave you feeling just a little bit better and more optimistic.
Let Your Feelings Out
Do you ever pretend everything is ok because you don’t want to burden others with tour problems? It’s a really bad habit a lot of us have. The more we keep our feelings bottled up the more they eat away at us. Sooner or later, despite our best efforts, it’s all going to come out – likely in the most destructive and irrational way possible.
They will all come out eventually, take control where you can. Express yourself in productive ways that make sense for you – writing, painting, singing, blogging, exercising or even baking. There’s no right or wrong way to express yourself, the key is actually doing it.
Letting these negative thoughts and feelings out in a more productive way that you can control is cathartic and will help you stay away from more unhelpful coping mechanisms. On top of that, it can help distract your from all of those destructive thoughts filling your mind.
I know this is might take a lot to get started but if you have the energy and motivation, finding ways to express yourself productively might be one of the best long term investments you can make in you mental health. Remember you deserve to be happy and have positive feelings and joy in your life.
This is another thing you can do from the comfort of your bed. It’s a way to break the cycle of negative thoughts and retrain your brain to focus on the good things in life, even if they’re small.
If you’re looking to create a habit that might help your mental health and generally foster a positive outlook, this is the thing to do. Take a few minutes every evening and write down three good things that happened during the day.
Not going to lie, it will feel really weird in the beginning. Making not of your coffee being absolutely perfect, or that you didn’t hit a single red light on your way to work… but after a couple weeks you’ll find yourself noticing the positives in every situation. Your feel happier and more present in your day to day life.
Weather permitting, fresh air is never a bad idea. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy hike or anything. Drink your coffee on the deck, sit back and enjoy the sun, go for a walk around the block.
I get it, leaving your house when you don’t want to get out of bed much less put clothes on can be a huge ask. It’s ok if you don’t feel up to it, but if you do you probably won’t regret it.
Get out of your room, take a few deep breaths – imagine breathing in the positive and out the negative. Just let the world pass you by, be present in the moment and let go of the things you can’t control.
This is probably the hardest thing for me. When I’m having a bad mental health day, the absolute last thing I want to do is talk to someone. I don’t have the extra energy to waste on other people.
Isolation seems like a viable option. Those negative and destructive thought might convince us that no one wants to hear from us. But if you can muster the strength to call a friend, it’s a great way to distract yourself from all the thoughts clouding your mind.
It is also one of the most effective ways to combat the isolation and loneliness that so often comes with bad mental health days and bad mental health in general.
Sometime to Think About
Before we talk about bad mental health days, I want to take a second to remind everyone that mental health is a serious consideration in our overall well being. Sometimes keeping our mental health in check requires tools and support that we can’t offer ourselves. In those situations it’s important to reach out to someone who can help.
If you find your bad mental health days are occurring a lot, if they’re keeping your from living your life and doing the things you want to do or if you find yourself in such a dark place you can’t see the light – it’s never a bad idea to talk to someone and see what other supports and coping mechanisms are out there.
Look, I know that’s easier said than done. The thought of picking up the phone and calling someone when you can’t even see yourself getting out of bed would be laughable if you had the energy. Keep it in mind, and make the call when you’re having a good day and you deserve to have all the good days in the world.
On a yet more serious note, if you’re in a place where you’re thinking about hurting yourself or someone else, if the whole world just seems incredibly scary right now and you’re not sure that you’re going to be able to keep yourself safe when you’re alone – reach out to someone, talk to a professional. There is hope and you deserve to experience life after you get the help you need to start feeling better.
What is your go to self care activity? What do you do when you’re having a bad mental health day?
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