Today I’m coming to you with some of my own tried and tested self-care tips to get you back on your feet after a bad day. I have autism and I also suffer with anxiety and depression, so I have my fair share of troubles and a lot of these tips will be somewhat based around those difficulties or at least have certain aspects of them in mind. What I mean by that it that I am not going to tell you to ‘go for a run’ or ‘eat a really complicated vegan meal’ because those are unrealistic and often unachievable for many of us for one reason or another. All the tips I am going to give you here are relatively simple to execute meaning that if you suffer with depression or some other illness that means you seriously lack motivation or mobility, you can still do them and they also don’t include spending oodles of money. Having said that though, I think shopping every once in a while can do wonders, so if you have the disposable income, then by all means go and buy yourself and new ornament, t-shirt, pen or whatever you want.
These tips are all things I do myself when I am having a bad day for one reason or another, whether it be a bad mental health day, sensory overload or just one of those days when nothing is working and they work well for me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will work for everyone. All self-help advice has to be taken with a grain of salt because everyone is different, everyone’s situation is wildly different and everyone’s ability to access certain things is different, which are all huge factors that play into your situation. I hope this list of tips that have worked for me will help some of you and maybe inspire you to find some methods that really work for you, but just remember that a lot of finding what works for you is trial and error, so don’t be put out if none of what I say works for you.
Get Some Fresh Air
My first tip is perhaps the most cliche, but it really does help. You don’t have to go on a walk or go anywhere, but I advise you to just open your window a little and breathe in some fresh air if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, angry or anything really. I think sometimes we don’t realise how stale the air can get in our rooms (especially in the winter), so just open your window for a few minutes to breathe in the air and hopefully you will feel a little calmer.
I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes I get in one of those moods where I’m bored, but I don’t want to do anything, so I end up just moping around and feeling sorry for myself, which isn’t helping anything. When this happens or whenever I just need a quick pick me up, I like to turn on my favourite music (usually something from Against the Current or from a musical) and dance and sing along until I feel better. Music has been proven to have a real effect on the human brain and can help release endorphins and lots of other good chemicals that I don’t know about because I’m certainly not a scientist, so try screaming along to your favourite song and see how much better it makes you feel!
Also, I know not everyone can turn their volume all the way up and belt out lyrics because they might live in an apartment or live with others that won’t allow them to, but try putting your headphones in and sing silently. The effect will still be pretty much the same.
Something New (new hobby, learn something, change of scenery)
This is a tip I tend to use whenever I’m feeling stuck or am seriously lacking motivation. When I’m working, I never stay in one place for more then 2 hours, so that there is some sense of urgency to get things done and nothing gets stale. This can work the same when you’re not feeling great as well. If you’re lying in bed feeling miserable, then get out of bed. You want your brain to associate different places with different emotions, so your bed should be for sleeping and not for being miserable. Getting up and changing where you are, even if it is just within your room, can help you to get going enough to do something else.
This can work the same if you are working on a really long project that you need to break up with something fun, but non-draining. Try either moving around to do different sections of the task, so that the time spent moving and setting up your new environment can be your break, or fill your break times with a new hobby or thing to learn. This will hopefully trick your brain into thinking it is doing a different task or something far more exciting by changing up the environment and having the left over excitement from whatever you were working on before.
Let Yourself Feel
We all have crappy days and sometimes you just have to give it up for a bad job and try again tomorrow…. and that’s okay! It has taken me years to learn this because it seems like everyone else is powering through their bad days like a boss and I’m here crying over the fact Tesco didn’t have the specific box of breadsticks I wanted. Honestly that’s not an exaggeration either. My Autism means that I DO NOT cope well when people change the plan on me or when I can’t have the exact things I’m used to. It is something I’m working on, but it still throws me off more than I care to admit.
These things happen though and sometimes you just need to have a good cry, curl up and scroll through social media or watch Netflix for a few hours to make you feel better. You just have to take pity on yourself sometimes, even if you know you’re being a bit melodramatic. That being said though, don’t ever let your pity party last more than 2 hours. Some people say ‘no longer than 20 mins’, but that is just so unrealistic in my opinion. 20 minutes is not even enough to watch 1 YouTube video really! You have to know when enough is enough though and pick yourself back up and try to get something done (even if it is just brushing your teeth) because I promise you will feel 1000% more accomplished if you managed to get stuff done and still have a pity party for 2 hours!
Sometimes all you need is to vent. Even if you don’t have someone you feel you’re close enough too to vent to, find a diary to write it in, type it out in all caps or talk to some made up person in your head whilst pacing your room (I do that last one A LOT!). Yes you might look like a nutter pacing and talking to yourself, but it’ll do you the world of good. If you are talking to someone, then you can tell them that they don’t even have to offer suggestions to ‘fix’ your said problem because sometimes all we need is to complain and rant and have someone agree with us. Try it – I think it will help.
This is one that I am still pretty bad at to this day, but I always feel so much better after I have done it and that is to just look after your basic needs. Drink some water, have a snack, brush your teeth, wash your face, change your clothes and even have a shower if you can be bothered. For me, changing my clothes is a huge one and really helps me shift my mindset from negative to positive.
If I need to get some work done, then I will put on a banging outfit, slap some bright red lipstick on and get to work because it makes me feel so much more powerful, but sometimes I still want to be cosy and snuggle up to work or even just to watch a film to make me feel better and I find it works so much better if you change into a different set of Pyjamas than the ones you were crying in. Maybe that’s just me, but next time you’re feeling really down or just need a pick me up, change your outfit to whatever fits the mood you’re trying to achieve.
tidy your room
Not everyone has the energy or time to clean their room, but I’m not talking about doing a deep clean here. When I say ‘tidy your room’, I just mean pick up the pillow of the floor and put it back on your bed, collect the dirty clothes and put them in the washing and put tissues in the bin. Often, rooms look super messy when it is actually just ‘surface mess’. Try putting away pillows, clothes and rubbish and see how much tidier your room looks because those tend to be the 3 most common things people chuck on the floor.
Tidying doesn’t always help me feel better, especially when I just need to feel what I’m feeling like we discussed earlier, but I do find it useful when I’m coming out of one of my depressive episodes because the physical act of tidying the mess in my room away is like picking up all the pieces and the emotions you just felt and putting yourself back together again, in order to get on with your day.
Sometimes when I really struggle to get out of pity-party mode and do anything, which I use to feel incredibly guilty about because I thought I had to be doing something productive every second of every day, I find the best thing to do is to not only let yourself feel it, but forgive yourself and reward yourself for anything you have done.
For example, maybe you didn’t write that thing or clean the kitchen, but you did brush your teeth, have a shower and make your bed today and I think all of those things deserve rewards as well. I would try to stay away from using food/buying things as a reward generally because, if you’re anything like me, they can become more of an addiction, but it also is okay to eat a donut or 3 every now and then! Instead try watching your favourite film, playing a video game you love, reading for hours, spend some time with a friend or whatever thing you like to do.
It may seem silly rewarding yourself for brushing your teeth, but it is the small everyday things like that that tend to slip through the gaps when you are suffering from mental illnesses or even just having a crappy day, so make sure you reward yourself for the time and effort you spent on everything. Don’t be afraid to make yourself earn rewards either. I often see a chocolate bar or something in the kitchen that I want, but I have got into the habit of making myself do something first in order to ‘earn’ said chocolate bar. I find it makes eating the chocolate bar so much more satisfying too!
Do something productive, but non-draining
I also find that I can often feel up to doing only a certain amount of things per day, which means that I often find myself in a situation where I want to do more than mindlessly watch YouTube, but I also don’t have the energy to write, read, take photos etc. In that situation I usually find something small and mindless to do that is still somewhat productive. I like to just sketch simple things I find online, which helps me improve my drawing, sort through my files or knit something, so that I am at least making something or doing something to improve my life/skills even if I’m not directly working towards another goal. Basically it is a way to justify me sitting and watching YouTube all day, which is great when you need the day off, but tend to feel guilty about doing just that.
play a game
Playing a game is always fun. I personally love video games and play Sims, Minecraft and Skyrim whenever I need to just switch off completely because it immerses me in a totally different world and story. I will often using reading for the same purpose, but I know less people like reading than video games, so I thought games was more ubiquitous. If you’re more of a board games person or even a sports person then you can play those too, but basically just do something that is truly just purely fun and let off some steam. Also killing things in video games is very therapeutic and no-one can tell me otherwise.
And that’s it! Those are my 10 realistic self-care tips for anyone to try, but that were also created with people like me who suffer with mental health issues that can drastically effect their motivation, drive and mood on a constant basis. I hope at least one of these was helpful and I hope you are all taking care of yourselves!
What do you do when you need a bit of down time? How do you take care of yourself? I’d love to know, so that I can try a few new techniques out and you can all feel free to add to my list of self-care tips for anyone one else reading too! Let’s all help each other 😊💕
Goodbye for now!
Over and Out