Every evening, I write a to-do list for the next day before getting into bed. It helps me sleep – otherwise I will just obsess about what needs to be done tomorrow (and beyond), which keeps me awake. So just now, as I was writing out my every day items, I listed “blog,” and a lightbulb appeared over my head. Oh right! I have to do that today too.
Since I wrote about self-care yesterday, I decided to continue that theme and share 3 tiny ways to take care of yourself when you can’t muster up the energy to care about taking care of yourself.
1. Open your blinds
Natural light can do wonders to improve your mood. If you can, go sit outside for five minutes. Some people find that light therapy lamps are very helpful – especially during winter when the sun sets early.
2. Drink a glass of water
Keep yourself hydrated and cut back on the sugary drinks (or really, sugary anything). I know that us sweet-toothed people don’t like to admit it, but sugar is SO bad for our bodies! And it can make depression and anxiety worse. So if you’re taking a mental health day, don’t believe the lie that you “deserve” a frappuccino or a soda to cheer you up. It will make things worse, not better.
3. Stretch your legs
Take two minutes to get your blood flowing, in whatever way feels good to you. Walk around your apartment three times. Go get the mail. Heck, you don’t even have to stand up! Here is a quick “couch potato yoga” video from my one of my favorite youtubers – it’s literally only 6 minutes of gentle stretching you can do without even leaving your bed or couch. I promise you, moving your body will make you feel a little better. (This coming from someone who hates working out).
Bonus tip: Freewrite your feelings
Set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes, and write absolutely everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or even making sense.. just type or scrawl out what’s going on in your head and don’t censor yourself. Here’s a site that lets you do just this without any worry that you might accidentally publish it to your blog (ha ha) or someone might come across it on your computer. When I freewrite on paper, I usually tear it up and throw it away immediately.. knowing I’m going to do that makes it easier to write without editing myself. The point of this exercise is not to evaluate what you’ve written – the point is to actively acknowledge your thoughts and feelings for a few minutes without any distractions.
Ultimately, I believe it’s important to get to know yourself. Know what you need when you’re having trouble coping. It might be helpful to think about this when you’re not in the middle of a crisis.. evaluate your instincts and determine whether these things are actually helping you or pulling you further into the fog. For example, I’m an introvert, so my first instinct is to pull away from people when I get sad and/or overwhelmed. I’m learning that while I do need alone time to recharge, cutting people out is actually a bad thing. I get wrapped up in my feelings and I get stuck in the fog.
But if you’re in the middle of the fog right now, you can still look at the ways you’re trying to help yourself.. you can evaluate whether they are truly helping or hurting you. Just please go easy on yourself while you figure it out! You’re doin’ great. I believe in you.
What are your best tips for self-care during an overwhelming time?