Disclaimer: These are a few things I've learnt through my journey with mental health issues, please be aware that these are from my experience and they often help me but this doesn't mean that they'll work for everyone as each person is different! Also, by no means am I trying to imply that mental distress can be "fixed" with these methods, only that these things help me to cope with my mood changes.
It's no surprise for me to say that looking after yourself is very important, and when you're struggling with your mental well-being even very basic self care can seem like the hardest thing in the world to do. As someone who frequently experiences very sudden drops in mood and difficult thoughts I've learnt that certain self care practices can really help me to distract myself in these times by doing something positive. Therefore, this post is simply a list of things that I find helpful and which may help you to think about what you can do to help yourself.
Crafting or crochet
I've been a keen knitter and crafty person for a long time and obviously it's not something that everyone enjoys but it certainly keeps your hands occupied and gives you something to fiddle with! Crochet is especially good for times when you're feeling anxious because you can do a bit and then pull it apart and do it all over again, a friend recommended it to me once for that exact reason and I promise it's really quite satisfying. As someone who skin picks when they're not feeling well this really is something I find helpful as keeping my hands busy can be incredibly useful.
Mini manicuresThis is another good one for keeping your hands busy and creating something positive/fun (because who doesn't love bright nails right?). This can take up a decent amount of time if you want it to, and taking your time to file your nails and put on multiple coats of paint gives you something different to focus on. You can also watch an episode of your fave TV show at the same time which always helps me to escape from whatever is troubling me.
Depending on exactly how you're feeling this can be a good one for times when your mind is going really fast and you're finding it difficult to concentrate or do anything productive. Whether it's going out to the shop to pick up something you're going to need (a good one is toothpaste because you'll need it at some point even if not immediately) or going to a local park with your headphones in listening to your favourite distraction music, try your best to get out there! Even if it's only for 10 minutes or just down to the end of your road, whatever you feel up to because you'll have got yourself outside and you'll come home having accomplished something when it felt like you never would.
Everyone has something that they love doing, whether it's baking, playing the guitar and singing at the top of your lungs or creating a new family on The Sims. Have a go at doing that thing for half an hour and see how you're feeling at the end of it. Quite often thoughts try to tell me that I don't deserve to enjoy myself or to do something that I love but let me tell you right now that is a untrue and sometimes doing something that makes you happy can help to boost your mood, even when you're feeling your worst.
So there we have it, a few of my personal favourite self care strategies. As I said earlier I appreciate that these things won't work for everyone and self soothing may be more effective on some occasions than others. If you think this kind of thing may work for you then try to make a list of things that you can use in the future to distract yourself; write down five different activities at a time when you're feeling well and stick it somewhere (mine is on my wardrobe door) then it's there for you to read when you're not feeling so good. I often feel unable to decide what to do with myself when I'm not feeling well and having a list of things that I can use to take up 30 minutes of my time has really helped me.
If you want to talk further about self care and your own experience I'm more than happy to discuss anything I've mentioned in more detail either in the comments below (you can leave an anonymous comment if you wish) or via email or twitter direct message (see my 'Contact' page).
Do you find self care helps you? Do you have any tips which I haven't mentioned? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear your experiences.
P.S. Thank you so much for reading my first Mental Health Mondays blog post! I hope you enjoyed reading as these posts are going to become a regular occurrence from now on. Please let me know if you any thoughts/tips that you think I should consider in future posts.