Whether you are having a few bad days or a prolonged episode, there are some useful tips I learnt that can move your day from an ‘awfully bad day’ to just a ‘bad day’. I will be sharing some of these few gems that can lift you up for when you do feel distressed.
- If you can do it in 2 minutes, do it!
Opening the curtains, making the bed, brushing your teeth etc. takes 2 minutes or less and can significantly raise your mood when done. It’s better to do these than not to.
- Rate, or track, your mood
Rate your mood out of 5 or 10, this can not only help you regulate your emotions but may help your loved ones better understand the extent of your episodes and how to support you in the best way.
- Moderate exercise
This is the minimum amount of exercise required to help boost your mood, this need not be in a gym at all. Just take 5 minutes out of your day to stand and do some stretches or any other exercises and you will feel a mood change. Exercise is responsible for promoting the release of “happy hormones” that can lessen or ease an episode.
- Keep a journal
Low moods can feel new even if you have experienced them before. This is the tricky part about pain – it always feels new. You don’t have to journal every day, but keep a journal for extremely high and extremely low moods. When you are at your happiest, journal that. These good moments are helpful to read back when you are feeling down. Journaling low moods helps release stress and may aid in regulating your heavy emotions. This also helps with looking back at when you are having another bad episode. This can remind you that you have survived the worst, and that you can do it. Think of it as your past self-reassuring your present self.
- Treat yourself with kindness
Treat yourself like a baby, literally! Make your environment comfortable and warm, eat comfort food, hug yourself, speak aloud to yourself with some reinforcing language e.g. “It will get better”, “I am worthy of love”.
- Create and follow a routine
A routine allows you to do tasks without thinking deeply about them. This helps when in a stressful mood as you use less time contemplating or going through what you need to do and instead just doing it. Rumination is a mind trap that can have your mind in a loop thinking about past mistakes and wrongs, sinking you into a hole of self-judgement that tears you down. You need to avoid having too much empty time in your day as you can easily fall into this trap. A routine helps just that.
- Prioritize rest time
A lesson I learnt from therapy is that I should never feel ashamed for needing more rest than the average person and I never looked back. Honour your mind and body by allowing it to rest, give yourself study breaks and off-days. Planned off-days are better than procrastination days as there is no guilt associated with these, you feel good and deserving of the rest and this has significant effects on your productivity levels and moods.
I hope these little ‘big’ things will help you take better care of your mental health and overall wellbeing, see you in the next one!