How do you cope with a bad mental health day usually? Under the covers, go full Bridget Jones with some Ben and Jerry’s? Make poor choices? Maybe you try to ignore it and plod along like nothing’s happening.
I’m a firm believer in tackling things pretty much as soon as they crop up (after years of healthy denial!) So I like to have a bunch of coping skills up my sleeve. (And Twix, Twix up my sleeve).
What to do on a mental health day off?
When you’re feeling depressed, strung-out or otherwise feeling down and out about life, in general, it’s normal to have days where “nothing works”.
If you’re a regular reader of This Anxious Mum, you’ll know that I often post about my bad days and I make no secret about the fact that I have had plenty of them. So I get it.
There are SO many ways to cope with a bad mental health day, it’s not a one size fits all. In light of that, I’ve rounded up my favourite answers from bloggers around the internet and asked them what to do on a mental health day.
I noticed when collecting the responses for this post that although varied, a lot of women had similar ideas about what a mentally healthy person should be doing.
Those kinds of things involved getting outside, connecting with nature and practising gratitude.
I was so pleased to read that it’s becoming more normalized to look within ourselves for a solution to our mental anguish. While I’m never one to dispute the effectiveness of medication and therapy for mental illness (especially in mothers!) I do argue that if you can help yourself cope with bad mental health by simple acts of self-care, all the better.
The habits of a mentally healthy person
We have guidelines for EVERYTHING in life. Recommended portion sizes, recommended amount of water you should consume in a day, steps to take.
You get it. It’s a lot.
Like everything else, there’s recommendations for our mental health too. Sort of instruction manuals for our little lizard brains. You know the drill.
- Get outside for some sunlight if you can, if it helps pretend you’re a cat, soaking up a sunbeam (whatever works!)
- Enjoy some “feel-good exercise” of joyful movement
- Practice self-compassion. How do you practice self-compassion? By honouring your body when you are tired, hungry or overwhelmed.
Here’s what two bloggers have to say about their routines for dealing with a bad day.
“I like to go outside and re-connect with nature when I need a mental health day. I live by the ocean, so it is very calming to walk near the water and listen to the ocean waves. I usually go to the beach with my husband or my friends, and I’m always happier when we’ve spent time together walking on the sand.” says Carrie of Clean Eating Kitchen.
Carrie Forrest has a masters degree in public health and is the creator of the blog, Clean Eating Kitchen, where she shares healthy recipes using real food ingredients.
Kate, from Adventures Without a Roadmap (a teacher, travel blogger, Arrested Development fan and fur-mama to a Maltese) says “My mental health days vary based on my mood. Some days I simply shower, put back on pyjamas and shamelessly binge watch tv! Other days I will do a workout (even if it’s only a short 5 min yoga video), get outside for some sunshine, take a nap and relax to watch tv.”
“I take a moment to be grateful for a few things which can be really challenging when you’re having a bad day! I also take the time to practice yoga which helps me to focus my energy and to relax and reduce stress. A good book is so helpful to me as well! Add in some quality time with my daughter to finish off the day!” says Kristen of Kristabelsworld who brings 20+ years of travel industry experience to her eclectic travel/parenting/mom blog.
Taking a mental health day- two approaches
For some of us, sitting in bed, cuddling with a book or watching tv just isn’t going to happen. Either our internal dialogue and subjective judgement won’t let us or we’re so used to doing all the time that we can’t just be.
Other times, that isn’t the story at all. We find that our energy is better spent on positive action, rather than focusing on self-soothing activities to calm our mental state.
So we’ll launch headfirst into work, or a new project or plan. Or perhaps we’ll go about volunteering or making others happy to boost our own morale. You’ll see below these two approaches in action.
“I try to change up how I do things on a mental health day. I try to start new large projects that requires me to stay focused so that my mind can’t venture into the depression/anxiety mode. Or I work with little kids because they totally absorb my time and attention not allowing me to sink down any further than I am at that point. Helping someone always helps me to snap out of that mood”
–Deborah from Deborah Vault Weddings is a Wedding Officiant and DIY blogger with a strong background in craft and design. Married for 20+ years to hubby Bill, together they share 16 beautiful grandbabies which keep her very happy (and busy!)
“I have a PJ day. I kick the hubby out of the bedroom and binge on Netflix or read my Bible with a cup of tea, watch Hallmark movies, play my video games, guilt-free eating, read a book, nap, and just relax as if I was a lady of leisure. it does wonders for my mental state.”
– Sabrina Anthony of Budget Spend Live has been an online marketer for the past 8 years and is passionate about spreading her story of success when it comes to budgeting, spending and living her dreams.
How to put yourself in a better mood
Briana of Learning To Be Free shares “My mental health day starts with turning off or mute my social media notification. I also make sure that I have some delicious food to eat (especially my favourite ice cream!), and cuddle in bed with my cat while watching reruns of my favourite shows.” – Briana is a licensed social worker and self-care coach. She helps women cultivate self-love through self-care, self-discovery, and self-improvement. When she’s not blogging, she loves spending time with her cat, listening to musical soundtracks, and watching Marvel movies.
“My favourite thing to do for mental health is to get out into nature. This means either hiking in the nearby marshes, birdwatching, or going bicycling on trails. The sun and fresh outdoor air is great for clearing one’s mind” says Stephanie of Mommysaurus, a lifestyle blog about raising a plant-based family
Sara runs couples travel/lifestyle blog Our Kind Of Crazy, where you can find date ideas, wedding plans and couples travel, she says:
“When I’m having a bad day, I’ll turn everything off and get outside for a walk. My husband and I walk around our neighbourhood together and let go of all the bad stuff going on. By the time we get home, I usually feel much better and get back to what I was doing. If not, I take more time outside relaxing. “
Emotional self care & how to make yourself feel better
Ever heard of the common encouragement quote “you have to fill your own emotional cup before you can fill another’s ”?
It applies to emotional self-care in a massive way. The next two bloggers have some excellent examples of taking a bad mental health day and turning it around, really looking at themselves with some self-compassion and asking themselves what they really need.
If you’re having trouble discovering what it is you are needing right now, give journaling a go! Here’s 20+ self-love discovery prompts to get you started.
“Whenever my anxiety kicks in I put on my comfiest clothes, make myself a warm cup of tea and I try and focus only on my babies. I try and stay away from all social media, or anything that could trigger me even more.When it comes to my agoraphobia, whenever I don’t force myself even if everything is planned and someone is coming to be by my side unless it involves the babies (doctors appointment, …. then I force myself obviously!).
If I have a bad day with my eating disorder I try and eat small portions all day to not feel full but still feeling like I have enough energy to not put my little ones in danger, I don’t want to faint or anything just in case I could be carrying them etc!” Morgane of BookMeSomeTime is a 23-year-old mother of two who was recently diagnosed with Adenomyosis a rare condition after recovering from anorexia. She blogs about ex-pat life, chronic illness, books and mental illness.
Starla of Coffee With Starla writes encouragement and scripture when she isn’t looking after her two babies. She notes: “Back away from my laptop slowly! LOL Seriously tho. A mental health day for me is getting away from the daily grind and stress. Get out and enjoy something I want to do just for me. Sitting outside in the sun drinking iced tea, meeting a friend for lunch, watching a good movie, or cuddling up on the couch and binge-watching a show. A mental health day is day for me to step away from the stress and do some self-care and something that I enjoy.”
“One of the biggest things I do during a tough day is give myself a break from my own high expectations. If I’m struggling with being productive, maybe I need to take an emotional rest. I’ll take an afternoon (or even a couple hours) off from work and take a nap, put my feet up with a book, or watch something I enjoy on TV. It’s taken me some time to engage in these activities stress-free, but I’ve learned that when I do, it comes back to me 10x because I feel so much better and ultimately become more productive and engaged with life.”
– Sara Borgstede is a writer, speaker, and 100 pound weight loss success story. She and her husband Mike parent 5 children through birth, adoption and foster care. When she’s not power napping, find Sara at The Holy Mess where she encourages busy women to balance faith, family, and fitness in a realistic way.
How to put yourself in a good mood
We’ve spoken about how to put yourself in a better mood when you’re feeling down about life but we haven’t talked about quick fixes. What if you want to stop feeling crappy, like…now.
Be SELFISH- Achieve/do/create/buy just for you. Not for your children, or your husband. Not even your cat (sorry puss). This is for you. A cup of hot chocolate. An online course to teach you how to be awesome at Pinterest.
GET IN THE WATER- As a badge wearing member of the Sad Girls Club™, there are often times when I just need a damn shower. Failing that, a good long soak. Added benefit? It’s caring for yourself, add some aromatherapy or rubber duckies, bliss.
TAKE THE EASY WIN- Little secret here Captain. You are allowed to not be so hard on yourself all the time. Especially when you’re dealing with a difficult emotional day. Allow yourself to accomplish things. Whether that’s finishing doing the dishes or making your bed. Let yourself hop off the hamster wheel of productivity for a minute.
SOMETHING SENSORY- I can bet money that you’re the type of person that tries to think their way out of problems. The problem is, sometimes when we’re emotionally heightened, no matter how much we think we won’t find a resolution. Sometimes we need to experience things on a physiological level. When I’m utterly overwhelmed, I use my weighted blanket, use TIPP skills that I’ve spoken about here and try to ground myself in the present.
PASS IT- Mark today off your calendar. It was a practice day. Not every day can be stellar. Today was just an experience.
We all have our different ways to self-soothe and cope with the bad days, just as we all celebrate the wins in different ways. It’s important to find out what works for you.
What healthy coping skills did I miss out on the list? Leave a comment below!
This Anxious Mum x