7 Tips To Get You Through Bad Mental Health Days

I recently had a series of bad mental health days coinciding with being ill (the worst!). And while I didn't plan this post while I was mid-anxiety it naturally came to me once I sighed relief that I was feeling much more myself.

Bad mental health days can happen to anyone with a long list of possible reasons - in fact, sometimes I'm sure the mind says stuff it, I want to freak out for no particular reason! Whether you know the cause or not, battling mental health symptoms is never pleasant or comfortable. But thankfully for the most part even severe symptoms are temporary and we all can get through them. So today I thought I would share seven tips I've found to make a difference to myself in the hope they help someone else.

1. Distract your mind
When it comes to bad mental health days, whatever you personally struggle with, imposing negative thoughts racing through the mind is a classic common system. However trying to stop those thoughts entering your brain will literally seem impossible at the time! But knowing in advance before such times arise what distracts you from over thinking is a good way to ease this frustrating symptom that really can make you feel so much worse. I personally find that even on normal well days that when taking a shower my brain doesn't think about much if anything at all. The same when listening to music or a podcast I love. So depending on my mood and when my thoughts are racing making my anxiety 10 x worse I will make sure I do one of those three things. We all have times when our mind can't have that inner monologue as easily due to the task we are doing so making an effort to do said task can make a difference.

2. Think about past mental health periods and how you overcame them - to prove it's never permanent
With negative thoughts and worry being common place on bad mental health days it's without a doubt normal to feel that your problems could easily escalate or stay more long term. However this for most people isn't true at all. Being unable to tell yourself that at the time a good alternative is to think of a past period of anxiety or depression that you overcame focusing on how you felt afterwards; the sense of relief and how back to normal you felt. Thinking about how it shows that you are able to do that again. This way of thinking for me has stopped distressing thoughts of how my mental health could go downhill and has helped so much.

3. Still want to go on the internet? Avoid searching for "cures" and look for things that will comfort, uplift or soothe you
With mobile devices to hand it's beyond easy to Google search how to overcome X while X is actually happening. This may be anything from what you feel is altered breathing so you look up breathing techniques, to how to prevent intrusive thoughts. Which may seem like a good thing to do at the time. But the problem is Google doesn't filter helpful practical information from the utter rubbish! Which makes it very easy to find yourself on a forum reading about someone else experiences dating back to 2003! Basically, you are more likely to increase your worries than ease them. Instead, try to be aware that any symptoms especially unexpected ones, unless seeming life threatening in which case talking to a professional would the best option to take, are totally normal and common when it comes to mental health. However, for symptoms that you want to relieve for possible future situations, it may be a good idea to seek advice through a dedicated mental health website or charity or even a book when you are feeling clear minded. For me knowing how to take deep breathes properly when having anxiety to calm my breathing thus calming me down was a game changer for me. If you know you will likely end up Googling symptoms download a dedicated app that you can use on your phone instead. I highly recommend the Headspace app.

4. Let yourself have time to rest and take the day off
Generally trying to suppress mental health problems can do more harm than good. Carrying on as normal may seem like your only option but really assess if you are able to do that and if you are doing it to keep up appearances. Whether it's taking time off work or time alone or the evening to yourself, listen to what your body needs and could benefit from. It's also good to be aware that bad mental health can also affect the entire body so try to take some extra down time to let your body deal with that and also make sure to get enough sleep, even more than you need as it will only do you good.

5. Indulge in something you love, even if it's a more simplistic form of it
Just because your mind has altered in its thoughts and general way of being doesn't mean that you are suddenly unable to enjoy the things you normally love. Depending on what it is (you may want to shorten how long you spend on it/alter it to suit how you feel more) make an effort to give it a try to see how it makes you feel. It may be starting a new TV series or going shopping or baking... whatever it is don't allow negative thoughts to tell you it's better off not doing at all. You may find your attention span is less in which case don't push yourself but still try and you may find you feel more yourself and get a bit of enjoyment out of it!

6. Go outside and focus on everything but yourself
In general as we get on with our daily lives quite a bit of it is spent in our heads but for the most part we are distracted and engaged with things going on in the world around us. Cue bad mental health and that can all change. Suddenly the world around us may be hard to concentrate on and internal thoughts may become much more dominant. From that negative inner voice to thoughts about every little symptom you are getting, especially if you have anxiety, it can all be too much. Similar to my first tip about distracting yourself, sitting outside in nature whether that be on a bench in your local park or in your own garden can bring a welcome distraction. It won't be as easy as just sitting there, though it may help with deep breathing, you will need to make a conscious effort to focus on what is around you. Starting with noting the air, what is the temperature like? Can you hear it? To even thinking about what you are sitting on and how the ground feels under your feet. Then you can move to less textural things such as looking up at the sky at cloud formations and to passerby's and what they are doing and wearing. This all may seem silly right now because you may not need it but come days when you find you are spending a lot of time trapped in your own head taking the focus off that can very much lead to some much-needed rest bite. Learning how to be mindful and putting it into practise really can work wonders.

7. Plan something
Bad mental health especially that come out of the blue can definitely change how you feel about your week/month. It can make you believe you will stay feeling that way for much longer than is actually true and can generally make you feel down. But looking to better days can help, even looking forward to that evening and planning something nice. Whether it be rough plans for an upcoming holiday or a simple day out I like to grab a notepad and my laptop and do a bit of research. This kind of task may seem simple and not worth doing but looking past how you currently feel and having something to look forward to can make a difference.

It's not often I think to write blog posts on the topic of mental health but as it is something that's heavily affected me in the past I feel it's good to share. 

If you are interested in reading about my own mental health story and how I dealt with anxiety you can find it here

Fee xo.

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