Realistic checklist for bad mental health days

Rebecca Spelman realistic checklist bad mental health days

Do you ever see an online post with suggestions on how to cope with a slump in mental health that are just unrealistic? “Spend at least an hour outside!”, “Wake up early, no later than 7am!”, “Start your day off by spending half an hour making a smoothie!” If you’re reading these kinds of lists, odds are you don’t have the energy or motivation to do these kinds of things, and lists like that might only make you feel worse. I put together this list for when you’re having kind of a crappy day and don’t feel like doing much of anything. The items on this list are small, doable changes that aren’t as healthy as doing a 5k run or eating 12 fruits and vegetables in liquid form, but they’ll hopefully make your day a bit easier.

Get some fresh air

Go outside if at all possible. Don’t worry about how you look or what you’re wearing, just put on a pair of shoes and take a short walk. You don’t have to go further than your garden or the end of your street; just take a few minutes to stretch your legs, take in your surroundings and breathe in some fresh air. If you really don’t feel up to leaving your house, open the windows so you aren’t breathing in stuffy air all the time. Even if it’s cold, open the windows for a while and wrap yourself in a blanket until you close them again. Make a conscious effort at least once to breathe in fresh air.

Wash with water

A lot of more elaborate checklists say to have a long bath or shower, but some people find these things more of a chore than a luxury. Feel free to tie your hair up or use dry shampoo; you can worry about washing it tomorrow. Take a quick shower without washing your hair or just wash the important parts with a wet cloth in the sink. You don’t even have to use soap or shower gel if you don’t want to, just use water to clean and freshen up. The four most important areas to clean are your face, armpits, genitals, and backside. Just washing these places will help you feel much cleaner with minimal effort.

Eat some fruit and veg

A fifteen-step smoothie recipe can be a chore on the best of days, and you might feel like treating yourself and ordering in when you aren’t feeling great. Whether you cook something yourself or have something delivered, try to include at least one portion of fruit or veg in your food. You’ll feel less sluggish after eating, and you’ll feel good mentally because you made a healthier choice, even if it’s only slightly healthier. When you make small decisions like this, don’t downplay them; you are doing your best within your means. You’re making an effort, and that’s all that matters.

Open the curtains

Natural light will help you to stay awake during the day and sleep at night. Open your curtains as early as possible to get as much sunlight as possible. You’ll be more aware of the passing of time, which will help you to stay grounded and be aware of your day.

Leave your bedroom

Going outside is the best way to expend some energy and connect with the outside world but if you don’t feel up to that, at least make sure to leave your bedroom. Bring your laptop into your living room, or sit in the kitchen with a cup of tea. If the communal areas of your home aren’t as comfortable for you as your bedroom, preparing food or taking a bath can be good reasons to spend some time outside your bedroom. You can also bring your laptop into another room and hang out there for a while. You don’t need to do anything you wouldn’t do in your bedroom; just relax. The change of scenery will help you to settle into sleep when you return to your bedroom.

Take some time away from screens

This can seem difficult when you’re at home with minimal energy. Watching your TV, phone, or laptop is much more passive than reading or doing something creative or physical. If you have the energy, try to read or spend time on a hobby you enjoy. You don’t have to do it for a long time, even a few minutes will do some good. If you can’t focus on these kinds of activities, listening to the radio, music, or a podcast can be a great way to stay away from screens without needing to concentrate a lot.

Talk to someone

When you’re having a bad time with mental health, the first piece of advice you might hear is to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Of course, you should do this if you want to, but you might not always want to. You might have already discussed how you’re feeling with someone, and you might feel like there isn’t anything new to say. Find someone you’re close to and just have a chat. You can mention that you’re having a rough day and want some company, or not mention it at all. Talking to someone about something other than your mental health can be a good way to distract yourself, and can also help to brighten your day. If you don’t feel like talking, just communicate with someone via social media. Comment on someone’s Facebook status or send memes back and forth with a friend; even these small, indirect forms of communication are a good way to connect with the outside world.

Drink water

It’s important to stay hydrated, and dehydration will negatively impact your mood. Find a large bottle or jug, fill it with water and bring it up to your bedroom if you know you won’t go downstairs every time your glass is empty. Fresh water is also better than water that’s been sitting on your desk for a week.

Stretch

Yoga is often suggested as a mental health aid and while it’s a great practice, you might not feel up to it. Stretching is a great way to connect with your body and instantly receive a good physical sensation. Just Google some basic stretches and spend five minutes stretching each part of your body. Those few minutes will help your body to feel more awake, and less likely to feel stiff if you’re spending a lot of time in bed.

Take your medication

If your mental health is at a low point, it’s very important to take your medication. This is an obvious point, but it can often be one of the first things to slip if you’re feeling low. If you’re prone to forgetting, there are a number of apps available that remind you to take your medication. You can set the app to remind you at a specific time, and tick off when you’ve taken your medication so you can check later if you can’t remember. If you need to eat when you take your medication, don’t worry about preparing an entire meal. Just eat something small; it’s better to take your medication on a partially-full stomach than not take it at all.

Make your own checklist

Checklists are a great way to remember what you need to do, and feel better about what you’ve done over the course of a day. You could write down the points in this checklist and tick them off when you’ve completed them. The satisfaction you get every time you tick something off will give you a boost and help you realise than you’re achieving something great today- you’re taking care of yourself.

Come back to this checklist any time you’re having a rough day, and go through the points one by one. You don’t need to be able to say “I did X, Y, and Z” every single day; some of the most important things we do can’t be measured. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do, so take the time to do it properly.

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