I've been wanting to post this blog for a while, I wrote it an age back as a reminder to myself on how I can turn bad days around. But I haven't shared it because it's a big departure from my usual blog posts. This post contains no food, and I guess I'm nervous that that's what people have come to expect of me. However I really want to start incorporating mental health more into my blog posts as it has been such a big factor in the last 7 years of my life. Last week I had big news to do with my mental health and a new diagnosis. I'm not going to write about that here as it's still new to me, and I think I need time to figure it out but it spurred me onto publish this, along with everyone who voted in my poll, thanks if that was you. So here it is, I finally followed through on a promised blog post, any feedback would be really welcome. Do people want more mental health posts from me, or should I stick to recipes? Let me know.
In this digital fast paced reality we exist in, mental health issues are on the rise. And I mean is it really any wonder, we are constantly bombarded with images telling us what we want or need, how we should look, even how we should think. We are also better at recognising mental health than ever before, so of course mental wellness and products and services aimed at it are also on the rise. People are out to milk this cash cow for all it's worth. There is nothing wrong with providing real therapeutic services, but using mental illness to sell products is whack.
So I decided to write this list of things you can do to fight back on a bad day for free! Because mental well being isn't dependent on things like bath bombs and expensive yoga retreats, you can have all the stuff in the world but it won't make you any happier.
Important note: The things listed below are not a substitute for medical help. If you are suffering with mental health issues please see a doctor. Also I have listed a number of websites you can visit, and numbers you can call in crisis at the end of this article. Please call a number if you feel the need to, your life is unbelievably valuable.
Important note 2: I took the photos for this article on a good day, I was feeling positive and I think I look good, I don't always feel like this. This is an edited reality, I don't want to put photos on the internet of me in trackies with tear stained cheeks, sorry not sorry.
Important note 3: It's ok if you can't do a single one of the things on this list, I don't do them all the time. I'm writing this more as a reminder to myself. So fuck it, if today's gone wrong its gone, let it go, there is always tomorrow.
1) Get clean!
I've been there, you've been lying in beds for what feels like forever, staring at the ceiling, unable to concentrate on tv, or work, or anything except when will this end? And yeh you stink but who the hell cares? It's not like anyone is going to see you anyway. But the act of getting clean is like the best thing you can do right now, trust me. Wash away all grime, and crumbs that have fallen down your top (how long have they been there? Meh.) and clear your head. You don't need a fancy bath bomb, or shower gel. You just need water and a good ol' fashioned soap. Afterwards don't flop on your bed and go back to staring at the ceiling in you towel. Get dressed into clean clothes (go comfy over fancy) and put on some makeup if you feel like it.
2) Go outside!
Ok 100% easier said than done. When I lived in Birmingham I got really anxious about going outside, I never left my room in halls. I missed all my lectures for months, until the point at which I had to drop out. The only time I would ever go out was to buy food, but I wanted to that as little as possible, I had to build up the courage for hours. I ate a bowl of cereal a day, just because I didn't want to go outside. There was a small shop in the building for god's sake! But do you know what every time I did go out it wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined it to be. I hated bumping into people I knew, but even that wasn't as bad as I had built it up in my head to be. In fact I often felt a million times better than before, and I could finally eat some damn food! Now I force myself to go out, well some days I don't, but I should and Jamie is often around to force me to anyway luckily. But where should you go? Go to a park is my vote but go anywhere you choose. Even living in London green spaces are an instant connection to nature, to earth, it's grounding. As you walk try to notice beauty around you, look for animals, listen for birds, gaze at flowers, smile at babies. Just do things that are going to remind you of the beauty of this earth and this thing we call life.
3) Do yoga youtube tutorials
I'm writing this one as a kick up the arse for myself! I never do this, despite knowing how good it is for me. Yoga classes are one of those things that just the idea of gives me a panic attack. A group of people I don't know and I actually have to try do something in front of them, and they're going to charge me £30 a session for this torture. woah, woah, woah! Let's all just calm down a bit because to be honest there's no way on earth I'm doing that. But yoga is actually really good for you. So with that in mind the way forward is 100% doing it in the comfort of your own home. Don't worry if you can't do the moves, who gives a fuck, we're not trying to be yogis here, and we aren't going to be posting headstands on insta anytime soon. The focus here is to find a beginners video, one that focuses on breathing. Because that's what we are really after, focus on our breathing. We want to slow it right down, and get our bodies out of this fight, flight, or lay on our bed and play dead instinct. Below is an example of one video I think is quite good. But there are thousands out there, just try find one that suits you. Try searching beginners yoga for depression/anxiety.
4) Dance and Sing
I can't dance or sing, I mean I can I'm just goddamn awful at both. But that has never stopped me belting out those power ballads. Sometimes I know I need to get a recipe done, but I'm feeling all anxious, I'm suppressing all the creative energy in me, I'm telling myself it will be rubbish before I have even begun. The only solution for this is to put on some music and dance and sing! I always listen to music while I cook. Maybe cooking isn't the time for you, maybe it's in the shower, or your bedroom, or on a legit dance floor. But whatever your situation you need to find your dance and sing time! (You can totally lip sync if you hate the sound of your singing voice.) I get the tunes going and I'm instantly uplifted, I pretend I'm a pop star, as I prance about my kitchen. But none of the shitty bits of a pop star, like being constantly hounded by the press, or having your every waking move scrutinised. No no, I mean the good parts, like 1000s of people adore you, you are super talented, you get to wear super sparkly stage clothes, and all your songs have perfectly choreographed dance routines, which do include giving the vegetables in your frying pan a quick stir. If your struggling with what to listen to I highly suggest this song be your first port of call. I love this song, It's so frickin uplifting, and reminds me of Bend it like Beckham (which I also loooove).
5)Read a book
Sometimes it's super hard to concentrate when you're depressed, you'll find yourself flicking through the TV channels aimlessly. If you settle on something you're mind will wander and before you know it you've watched an hour of 60 minute makeover and you have no idea if they were doing up the toilet or a bedroom. I don't always find reading to be a solution, but the fact that to read I actually have to force myself to concentrate kinda helps. Read something good though, not your class reading list, or a great work of literature that was written thousands of years ago. Read something that is easy to understand and enjoyable. I can here you saying well books aren't free? But I bet you have some lying around your house and if not remember that walk you just went on, next time walk to the library and pop in. Soak up that library silence, which is unique to libraries, it's soft and hushed, like the walls and roof are made of blankets. I'm currently reading Derren Brown's Happy to work on well, being Happy. But my current go to relaxtion book is Game of Thrones, because its utterly thrilling. Fantasy not your thing? Go for something that is. Reading not your thing? Well maybe the next step is for you.
6) Watch your favourite ever movie/show
So you've had a tough day, maybe you tried to take a shower but failed. Maybe you tried to leave the house three times but just couldn't face it. Don't beat yourself up tomorrow is another day, you can start all over again, and maybe this time you'll do it. If not who cares, the point is there's nothing you can do to change the day you've had. So now's the time to curl up, preferably in bed, and watch your favourite movie/show.
You know that movie that just gets you right in the feels in a happy kinda way. Or that show you've watched on repeat more times than you can count, to the point where you can repeat all the lines. Yep that's your favourite. I'm not talking about the favourite you tell people in small talk on nights out to make yourself look arty and cool, nope I'm talking about the movie that moves heaven and earth to make you a child again. Or the TV show that feels like an old friend. For me it's the X-files, I love this show so much and I would list the ways but this would become a blog post dedicated to Mulder and Scully rather than mental health. I've watched every single episode many times over, and I never get bored. I love aliens, I love space, I love the paranormal, I just love it all! Only you know what your special thing is, but you'll have one. So put it on, sit back and try to be nice to yourself.
If you are feeling suicidal or just need someone to talk to, please look at the websites and numbers below:
The Samaritans - https://www.samaritans.org/ - Telephone: 116 123 (UK and ROI)
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) - For men - https://www.thecalmzone.net/ - Telephone: 0800 58 58 58
Papryus - For people under 35 - https://www.papyrus-uk.org/ - Telephone: 0800 068 41 41
Childline - For children and young people under 19 - https://www.childline.org.uk/ - Telephone: 0800 1111
The Silverline - For older people - https://www.thesilverline.org.uk/ - Telephone: 0800 4 70 80 90