I had plans to write a different post today, but as it often does, life got in the way, and I couldn’t write the post that I had wanted to. Instead, this post came out of a frustrated afternoon when my joints had given up on me, and in a bout of anger, I succumbed to an evening of mental and physical self-care. Despite not being able to physically write, I began to map out a routine for how I cope when my body and brain are trying to prevent me from fully functioning. This guide particularly focusses on the best ways I find to cope with battling the depression and anxiety:
- Make myself a hot drink. My go-to is coffee, especially in the mornings, since I’m one of those caffeine addicts who can’t wake up properly before my morning coffee. Even though it’s not exactly heralded as a relaxing drink, having a coffee is a foolproof way to settle my mind and bring balance to my day. However during periods of anxiety, I tend to opt for a herbal tea – usually lemon and ginger or green, with a dash of honey. The lack of caffeine prevents me from feeling additionally and unnecessarily anxious. The health benefits of herbal teas also helps to relax in terms of a reminder that you’re doing something positive and healthy for your body. Since I have poor joints, with my wrist tendons often becoming inflamed, I also benefit from having a hot drink, as simply holding the mug against the painful area soothes any inflammation.
- Make sure you have eaten. Not only is it important to maintain energy levels but it is often something that is forgotten when you’re feeling low or anxious. Although none of these are magic fix, a full stomach can make such a difference on your mood and prevent you from just sitting around in bed with hunger only adding to the already present lethargy. I find that savoury snacks which don’t require much preparation while keeping you full are the best, and the effort of finding food is therefore less of a chore.
- Find a cozy jumper/cozy item of clothing. The materialist trash I am, I am constantly buying new jumpers and comfy loungewear. My favourite at the moment is from a shop called KGM Collective (www.kgmcollective.com), and their t-shirts and sweatshirts are the. softest. clothes. I have found in a long time. If you’re gonna be stuck in the same place for an extensive period of time during your mental shut-down, you’re going to want to be comfortable and warm, so you don’t get stiff and cold, which will only add to the misery and dissatisfaction.
- Get cosy in a safe space. To me, my safe space is my bed, but it can be anywhere where you’re comfortable, warm, and content. Depending on my mood, and whether I have the focus, I will either read a book, or watch a TV show or something on youtube. Unless there’s something I’m particularly loving enough to fully focus on, I will choose something light-hearted that doesn’t require much attention. If I have the focus, reading a book can be very useful in order to feel productive – especially since my course requires near constant reading, being able to get even some of that that done can feel like an achievement and ease some of the stress and worthlessness coming from the mental illness.
- Play a game on my phone. This allows for a break from reality, while giving a sense of productiveness, especially in level based games. As some games also have lives or waiting times, your ‘zone out’ time is limited by the game itself and you don’t therefore lose yourself to a whole day. It can be controlled – which ironically creates a sense of control and structure when you’re feeling utterly out of control. Taking a break from reality I find to be massively useful for resetting your brain and refocussing your perspective on the day.
This is a list of my personal ways to get comfortable and feel slightly better during those rubbish days. I urge any of you who feel at a loss sometimes to try out some of these methods, and see if they transform your life (not really, but they’re pretty useful self care methods).