Every now and then life gets difficult, leaving many of us feeling anxious, overwhelmed and unsure of how to cope. Sometimes we can attribute our low mood to an incident of loss; of a person, relationship, home or job. Other times we can find ourselves feeling anxious and/or depressed without fully understanding why. Whatever the reason for feeling overwhelmed, it is important to remember that healing is a process; it takes patience and perseverance. Think of the bigger picture; things will not be the same as they are now in six months, in a year, in five years; this pain will fade.
In light of this, I have compiled a list of simple self care tips you can use to brighten your day. Feel free to try them out, share them with a friend or write some of your own tips in the comments section below! What works best for one person might be different to what works best for another.
20 Simple Self Care Tips
1. Get out in nature.
All those places you've said you'd visit, the park, the mountains, the beach...do it! Getting out in the sun and the fresh air may be an obvious tip but it's such an important one. After all, getting enough vitamin D, whether from the sun and/or your food, has been shown to benefit both your body and your mood.
2. Eat. Hydrate. Sleep.
Have you been eating enough? Drinking enough water? Getting adequate sleep at night? It may sound obvious, but with all we have going on in life, we can forget the basics and leave ourselves feeling run down. Pack a nutritious lunch, take a water bottle out with you for the day and keep it refilled or go to bed an hour early. Your mind and body will thank you!
Curl up on the couch with a book and a cup of tea and switch off from the worries of the world for the next thirty minutes. Take a nice warm bath and add some epsom salts/essential oils. Pop a hot water bottle at the bottom of your bed for later. Find whatever it is that relaxes you and do it.
3. Engage in social media.
This might sound like a strange one but it can make you feel better if you use it in a positive way. Maybe you have a friend you haven't chatted to in awhile that you can reconnect with. Communication with friends can brighten your day and help you to feel supported and less alone.
4. Switch off from social media.
On the other hand, social media might be making you feel worse. Comparing your actual life to the photoshopped life others display on social media is never going to make you feel good. Remember, people's social media persona is different to their actual life. Even cutting out social media on your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night can make a difference.
5. Do 30 minutes of activity...if that feels like too much, try 15 minutes.
Getting active is good for your body, which in turn is good for your mind. So go on, put on your running shoes and get releasing those endorphins. Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression.
6. Cook comfort foods.
Add some comfort to your life by cooking some of your favourite comfort foods. Make up a batch of your favourite, warming dish and then take the time out to sit and enjoy it. You might even share it with family or a friend if you are feeling generous!
7. Write 10 reasons why you'll be alright.
Then read them back to yourself. Remember, this pain will fade.
8. Postpone the 'To Do List' and don't feel guilty.
Chances are if you are feeling overwhelmed you won't be be in the optimal headspace to accomplish the tasks at hand. Give yourself a break and start the list again when you feel less stressed.
9. Watch TV and don't feel guilty.
Maybe you need a mini break from that To Do List. Sit down, put your feet up and let yourself unwind.
10. Take a mental health day.
If it all seems to be too much to handle, take a mental health day. You can go back to work tomorrow, recharged and a little less on edge. The world will not stop if you pump the breaks for one day. Minding your mental health is just as important as minding your physical health yet sometimes we lose sight of this and run ourselves into the ground.
11. Take up a hobby.
There are so many interesting hobbies to choose from, from taking up a musical instrument to trying out a new sport. Challenge your brain and enrich your life with a new skill. You might even make some new friends along the way.
12. Listen to a funny podcast.
There are an endless amount of funny podcasts out there if you just take the time to explore. Search online for the right one for you and spend the next 40 minutes laughing. Not into podcasts? Watch a funny movie or go see a live comedy show.
13. Listen to uplifting music.
Make a playlist of your favourite songs and put it on anytime you need a lift. Pair this with tip 5 if the sound of 30 minutes of jogging/working out sounds a little dull.
If you feel like you need to cry, cry. Your body may be trying to tell you that it needs something and you are ignoring it. Let it all out and have a good, long cry. Bottling up can leave you feeling worse in the long run.
15. Book an appointment with therapist/GP/physio/psychiatrist.
There is help out there for all kinds of issues. Whatever it is that you need, let those trained to support you do it. You don't have to face this alone.
16. Take a shower and get into clean sheets.
Sometimes small comforts can make us feel a little bit better. Bonus points for putting on freshly washed pyjamas!
17. Tidy a small section of the house.
Little tasks such as tidying can engage and distract the mind. And you'll feel happier having accomplished a practical task.
18. Get out of the house.
Why not visit your local coffee shop or take a trip to a nearby museum? Just getting out of the house and being around others can make you feel better.
19. Ask yourself what needs to be done first on your laundry list of "To Dos" and do it.
Organise it by importance/deadlines and do it in small chunks. This will make the whole thing less overwhelming.
20. Have faith that this overwhelming time will pass and things will be different.
Remember, your only job right now is to keep taking little steps forwards. Don't forget to pause for breaks when you need to!
And remember, life can be messy and challenging, it's all part of the human experience. It's okay not to be okay.