This is a great blog from our therapist, Melanie Rodrigues on how to lower stress on those high stress days.
I am sometimes baffled by the array of “simple” self-care tips that I see floating around in the mental-health field. According to many sources, it is essential in addressing your depression or anxiety to be doing yoga, mindfulness, meditation, long bubble baths, eating three super-food-packed meals per day, sleeping 8 hours every night, and spending time with family and friends. That’s quite the list. And absolutely, many of these self-care techniques are helpful, however many individuals find that these suggestions are not a realistic starting point for situations of intense depression, anxiety, or distress. And you know what? That’s okay. So today I’d like to provide some ideas for “Rock Bottom” Self-Care – self-care for those days when nothing is fine, you have no energy, and even getting out of bed seems impossible.
- Eat some food. Right now it might be unrealistic to cook three “heathy” meals per day, and that’s okay if that’s where you’re at, however it is important to continue fueling your body so that you might have energy for any more involved self-care tasks. If you aren’t up to cooking, quick snacks high in protein, like granola bars or nuts might be helpful in keeping your body fueled. Haven’t made it to the grocery store in some time? Give a loved one a call and ask if they could drop a meal off – I bet grandma would love the opportunity to make some soup. When all else fails, a meal delivery service such as Uber Eats/Skip the Dishes can help to ensure your body has what it needs to make it through the day.
- Let your eyeballs see the sun. There’s a great deal of research that shows a connection between positive menta-health and exposure to UV light. Especially during the winter months, many feel the impact of reduced hours and intensity of light in the form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (AKA the “winter blues”). Sure, it would be great if you could go out for a walk and get some exercise along with your daily dose of UV light, however sometimes on “rock-bottom” days this just isn’t possible. If you can’t be physically active outside, perhaps you can sit outside for a few minutes. “But what if the world is currently a treacherous frozen wasteland?” Try sitting facing a window for a half hour, maybe while reading the paper or eating your breakfast.
- Make contact with a fellow human. You certainly don’t need to get dressed up and go out—that’s probably the last thing you want to do on “Rock-Bottom” Days. Rather than spending the whole day with your own thoughts however (as your own thoughts can often be rather unkind!) consider calling, texting, or emailing a friend. You might want to pick someone who isn’t going to judge your current state of “blah”. You don’t have to talk about your feelings if you don’t want to, but it’s a great idea to use social connections to pass time, feel connected to your community, and maybe even crack a smile.
- Get toasty. There’s a reason that techniques such a bubble baths and hot (Bikram) yoga are popular as self-care techniques – some research shows that heat immersion, such as taking a bath, can have positive mental-health benefits, lower blood pressure, increase metabolism, and help to calm feelings such as anxiety and anger. Even if you don’t have the energy to do tasks such as washing your hair or shaving, keep in mind that just the act of spending time in a warm atmosphere can be healing. If a bath is not possible due to your setting, try sitting under a warm shower or heated blanket.
- Quit “should-ing” on your self-care. There are plenty of people who are happy to tell you what you “should” do for self care, or to make changes to your mental health—but a long list of “shoulds” only serves to make you feel unaccomplished. If you were able to do any of the above, feel free to congratulate yourself on making some great self-care decisions. If you weren’t able to do any of the above? Tomorrow will be better. On these rock-bottom days, give yourself permission that sometimes the only thing you “should” do is keep yourself safe, and that’s okay!
Maybe due to recent circumstances you’re struggling with the basics of self-care, and need some extra support to begin caring for yourself again. Maybe you’ve mastered the tips above and are ready to dive headlong into the wide array of more complex self-care techniques! Either way, a HELPPS therapist is here to help, book your appointment today.