We all have bad days when things don’t go the way we had planned, when we lack motivation or feel too tired to face the day. But when we’re struggling with our mental health, these bad days can be more frequent and even more difficult to manage.
On these days, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by negative or intrusive thoughts. Any progress or accomplishment is outweighed by our focus on the things we haven’t achieved, the jobs we haven’t completed or the plans that we didn’t carry out. Very quickly things can get blown out of proportion and thoughts can leave us feeling exhausted and defeated.
Because it’s easy to get lost in the downward spiral, I’ve compiled a list of ten things which can be helpful to remember when these days come along (I have by no means mastered this yet and these are definitely things that I often need to remind myself of too!).
Your feelings are valid
Just because there isn’t an obvious reason as to why you’re having a bad day, doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel awful. The way you’re feeling is valid and you don’t need to justify that to anyone (not even yourself!).
You are not a burden
You are loved and people care about you – let them! It’s easy to think that people are caring because they have to or because they feel sorry for you, but this isn’t the case. Let your loved ones support you and try not to push them away.
You won’t always feel this way
Just because you admit that today is bad, doesn’t mean tomorrow will be the same or that you’re on a downward spiral. Often, we want to try to ignore any setbacks by carrying on with our normal, busy routine. Whilst this can sometimes be a good distraction, it’s also important to recognise the bad days and to adjust your goals accordingly. Isolate this day from the rest and focus on what you need to do right now to make yourself feel better.
Don’t expect too much of yourself
Set yourself small and achievable targets so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s easy to focus on all of the things that you haven’t done, but instead, recognise the things you have done even if it’s just the fact that you have got dressed, moved downstairs and reached out to someone via text.
Be kind to yourself
This goes along with number four and involves praising yourself (shocking, I know!), for the small achievements. Try not to compare your productivity to your usual self or to those around you, instead treat yourself kindly – do something you enjoy (even if you don’t think you want to), reassure yourself that you deserve to take care of yourself and take it easy.
Eat – Rest – Sleep – Breathe
Don’t abandon the simple things! Just like a physical illness, the basics are important in order to help you to feel better. Eat something, stay hydrated, get some fresh air (even if it’s just opening the window!) and give yourself time to recover and rest.
Think about what has helped in the past
This one is individual to everyone but definitely worth remembering. What did you do to help you to feel better the last time you felt this way? — Watch a film? Go for a walk? Cuddle the dog? Write a list? Look at photos? Read a book? Avoid social media? Bake a cake? Visit a friend? —- As long as it’s a healthy coping mechanism that works for you, use it!
Don’t make decisions today
Whether it’s a big decision about University, work or a relationship, or something smaller like cancelling a trip at the weekend or re-decorating your bedroom, avoid decisions today. Your mind isn’t in the best place for making any rash choices and you may end up making a decision which you regret at a later date – try to put off the final decision until you’re feeling better.
You deserve love, care and support
Mental health problems can often make us think that we don’t deserve to be supported and that we somehow deserve to feel the way we do but it’s important to remember that this is just your mind playing tricks on you. No-one deserves to struggle.
You’re not alone, don’t suffer in silence
Mental health struggles can be isolating but you don’t have to face them alone. Let people know that you’re struggling and need some extra support. Unlike physical illness, it’s hard for others to know you’re struggling unless you tell them – without an explanation, people will second-guess how you’re feeling and if it isn’t quite right, it can be frustrating and make you feel even more misunderstood. If you don’t feel that you can reach out to anyone around you, there is always someone that you can talk to in confidence:
– Samaritans: Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for anonymous and confidential support
An unrelated, but very pretty photo taken in the Dolomites.