Mental health is never a linier experience. There are ups and there are downs, and that’s completely normal. When we’re feeling better than usual, it’s easy to stop doing the things we were doing to take care of ourselves when we were feeling bad. Then when we start to feel low it’s difficult to pull ourselves out of it. Mental illness is hard, but there are some things we can do to prepare ourselves to stay as grounded as possible when we start to go through a low period.
1.) Make a list
Write down a list of things you do when you feel your best, and when you feel bad try to do at least one of those things a day. They don’t have to be big things; it could be something as small as wearing clothes you like or spending some time with your dog. Making an effort to do at least one of these things a day is like a kind gesture you can give to yourself when you’re feeling down.
Spend some time just *being*. Feel what it’s like to be you. How does it feel to breathe? How does your heart beating against your chest feel? Can you hear the pattern of your own thoughts? Practicing mindfulness gives you the ability to just feel. When you feel good it’s easy to teach yourself this skill. Then when you feel bad you give yourself the gift of feeling bad and not judging yourself for it. You can feel the anxiety in your body without having to think about what’s making you anxious.
3.) Spend time with friends
When we feel bad it’s easy to isolate ourselves and want to be alone. However, spending time with people we love when we have the energy to do so is what gives us support to fall back on when we feel bad. When we feel well connected to the people in our lives is easier to reach out when we need it, and to respond honestly when people check in on us.
4.) Keep your space clean(ish)
I, myself, am not a very clean person. However, I’ve found it’s important to keep basic things clean for myself so that when I’m feeling sad I don’t have to worry about them piling up. Feeling bad feels worse when we don’t have clean clothes and don’t have a clean bed to sleep in.
Whether that’s walking a little bit, running, or doing yoga, keeping your body moving is one of the best ways to keep yourself grounded. Bad days are still going to happen even if you eat kale and run 10 miles every day. That’s ok. When we have the energy, our body still needs care and attention, even if we can’t do it all the time.
6.) Stock up on freezer food
When you feel bad it’s easy not to eat, especially if you don’t have the energy to cook. Keep some food you can heat up in your freezer so you don’t have to worry about the hassle of cooking, and you can still take care of your body.
7.) Create your mantra
Make a list of things to remind yourself of when you find it difficult to believe good things about yourself. Things like “You are brave. You matter. You are loved” are always important, but especially when we’re down these are things we need to be reminded of. When you’re feeling good, write down the list and keep it in a place you’ll remember.