In a previous post I talked about my mental health journey, detailing how I faced my depression and anxiety. While I am in a much better place now, like many others I still have moments where my mental health is not at it’s best. Sometimes it’s because I’m overly stressed. Other times my mind has just decided to wake up into a depressive episode. It is a never ending battle, but one that I am much better equipped to fight.
During these ‘down days’, I often find it difficult to look after myself properly. I can function much better than pre-therapy me, being able to at least shower and feed myself. But when you’re already dealing with the mental gymnastics of self-loathing, apathy, and low energy, the last thing you want to do is head to the gym or cook a nice meal. So what do I do instead?
To be perfectly honest with you, sometimes I just give into it. Not in a self-defeatist way, but rather I take it as a cue that maybe I just need to rest. Luckily I am in a position where my work schedule is very flexible, and I can take time off to look after myself when I need it. In those moments, I spend time removing myself from the situation, distracting myself with things I enjoy.
But none of us have the luxury of having as much time as off as we want. Sometimes there are days when this happens, and I have to push through and get the job done. Whether thats going to work, or doing chores that support myself and my partner. Those days are hard.
When I have to do that, I quite literally talk myself into it. Hey, I’m crazy enough as is, so why not! I sit down and give myself a pep talk, to push through what I’m feeling temporarily, until I can clock off for the day. I tell myself “C’mon then. Let’s get this job done. Doing this will help us out, so we better get going.” No judgement. No telling myself I have to do it or else. Just letting myself know that I acknowledge today is going to be hard, but by pushing through I will be stronger for it.
UK MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT LINES:
Mind (Mental Health Charity) – 0300 123 3393
Samaritans (General Support) – 116 123
BEAT Eating Disorders – 0808 801 0677
NHS Emergency Helpline – 111
I do this as a way to counteract the thoughts and feelings I would be drowned by. In a way I use my little ‘CBT toolbox’, the techniques I gained from going to therapy, to counteract negative thoughts. By stepping outside of myself a little, I can give myself the advice and support I would a friend or family member. To me that’s what self care is. Treating yourself like you would a friend who is going through a tough time, and needs your help.
Of course this doesn’t magically solve all my problems. I don’t have a one-sided chat for 30 seconds and I’m suddenly cured. But by doing so it gives me that extra boost I need to get going with my day. Sure I may not go to the gym that day, but I’ll make a point of heading into town to run an errand, gaining a nice walk to clear my head. So long as I try to engage in some health behaviours, I have won the day.
What do you think? What are your techniques for dealing with your own ‘down days’? Is there any advice you can give me or others on how to overcome their mental health difficulties? Let me know in the comments below!