A couple of weeks ago I had one of those days. Everyone has them (at least I hope everyone does and it’s not just me?!) where one thing after another goes wrong, everything feels like it is just piling up on top of you and it’s not one big thing, it might be lots of really small insignificant things possibly added to a longer term stressful problem, and before you know it you just want to curl up in a ball and hide away.
Now I know that things I deem as ‘problems’ or ‘stressful’ in my life wouldn’t even feature as a blip on some people’s radar, and realistically I live a very privileged and easy life, and I am in no way saying my life is hard, everything is relative. But we all have those days, no matter what the problem is, and so I thought it might be helpful to share some of the little things I do to make those days slightly brighter. No, these things don’t solve the problems, but they might make you feel a bit better.
I also just wanted to mention upfront that for some people in the depths of mental health issues, making a cup of tea and changing bed sheets is firstly a monumental task when getting out of bed is almost impossible and secondly is just not going to cut it in terms of making a difference to how you feel, and in those cases I absolutely recommend talking to your GP, but similarly if you can bring yourself to try any of the below it won’t fix the problem but it might help just a little bit.
Also just another note on that front – if you want to read actual well written advice about self-care, my lovely friend Fern has a gorgeous post on her blog which is a million times more eloquent than I could ever hope to be, so you might be interested in reading this post she wrote. And for more slap/dash approach, my tips are here:
Have a cup of tea
This is the answer to everything, isn’t it? Well, not quite, but I find making a cup of tea can sometimes be that pause you need. The ritual of boiling the kettle, dunking the tea bag and just taking those few minutes out to take a break from whatever might be stressing you out can sometimes be so helpful.
Write a to do list
This is my go-to whenever I feel stressed or anxious or out of control. I am a list person, I like the order and familiarity they give me, and I like to see everything I need to accomplish written down in front of me. Now yes this can feel overwhelming, but sometimes by going through actually writing things down and breaking them down even further into smaller tasks, everything can seem a little bit more manageable.
Tick off any majorly urgent, quick win jobs
If I’m feeling stressed because I have lots to do, often that results in me feeling so overwhelmed that I am basically paralysed into inaction and don’t know where to start. So making a start somewhere, committing to doing a few things which are ‘quick win’ like posting those letters that have been sat on your kitchen side for a week, putting away the washing etc can make you feel more in control and of course ticks a few bits of that long to do list.
Go to the gym
Sometimes this doesn’t work and it’s better to just go home and shut the door on the world, but other times I have found that if I have a class planned, going through with it despite having had a horrendous day is worth it. I have driven to the gym in tears before (sorry, DVLA, I know that is NOT safe driving!), gone to a spin class, and come out feeling 184658393 times better.
Tell someone/phone a friend for a rant
They say a problem shared is a problem halved, and although this can’t always be true it does help to get things off your chest. Sometimes it even puts things into perspective, because saying out loud ‘well I had a shitty day at work and then the garden gate fell on my foot and the milk was out of date’ really does highlight that first and foremost you had a bad day, and the other things are just teeny tiny things that on a normal day wouldn’t even phase you. So saying them out loud can just bring that home. Plus the person you call might have some advice to offer on the big things that might have made your day crappy which is always helpful.
Make some comfort food
Now some people might say when you’ve had a bad day you should eat something nourishing to help your body feel better. And if that works for you, that’s great. But for me I just want comfort food. Mac n cheese, spaghetti bolognese, or a big old pie. Something stodgy and homely and tasty.
Watch your favourite TV programme, ideally under a snuggly blanket
Getting snuggled up on the sofa with a cup of tea (maybe a biscuit, too) and watching some of your favourite TV can take your mind off things and help to calm things down and generally make you feel a little bit better. I try and go for cheerful things that are easy to watch like ‘friends’ which I have seen so many times but still makes me laugh.
Run a bath
Sometimes a good soak with some posh bubbles is just what you need, ideally with some candles. It really does help me de-stress.
Change your bedsheets
Ideally do this whilst the bath is running, so that you can then hop out of the bath all warm and toasty and head straight into clean sheet heaven. Because we all know fresh bedding means fresh mind, right?
Put on clean PJs
After your bath, get yourself into some clean and snuggly pajamas, we all have our faves so pick yours out and get cosy.
Get yourself a bar of chocolate
I only do this on really, really bad days because I am not the biggest chocolate eater. My favourite type is the Lindt Intense orange with almond pieces, and have a couple of squares in bed is such a lovely treat it often does the trick to cheer me up.
Switch off your phone
This might not be right for you, but often I find that social media makes me feel more stressed and anxious because I see everyone off doing amazing things and working out or being in the Bahamas, and it just makes me feel even worse. So for me, putting my phone on aeroplane mode can be really helpful – I know that anyone who really needs to get hold of me can ring the house phone.
Read a good book
For me, reading really takes my mind off things, and when I read a good book I get completely drawn into that world. But whatever works for you – I remember when I was in my final year and my dad had some bad health news, I played a game called fruit ninja on my phone all. the. time. Not because it was interesting, but because it just occupied a small part of my mind enough that I couldn’t think about my dad’s health with all of my brain, so it gave me a little rest from thinking about it, if that makes any sense?
What else have you tried to help you on the tough days?