MH tips that aren't shit(24 Posts)
Inspired by the other threads that I'm sure any regular has seen... Any non-shit self-care tips? Would especially like to hear from the procrastination nation rn on how you get your shit together - my biggest block is leaving the house. These four walls are mine and Outside is scary. I'm fine when I get there, and logically I know that, but the period between "should leave" and "does leave" is getting harder and longer (phrasing! 😉)
I'm posting here for traffic; because it's my main board where a handful of people probably know me; and because there have been a couple of "not shit tips" threads recently that have been helpful and supportive. It would be really appreciated if we could avoid the worst excesses of "uhh, can you not just be less useless?"
One tiny bit at a time. So if you need to eat, shower, get dressed, organise your things, leave the house, get in the car and go, you take each thing at a time, separate from the others. You don't think about leaving while doing the first bit, you solely focus on eating/ whatever you need to do.
I find doing the washing is daunting and I avoid it, leading to piles of washing building up. My tip for that is to wash smaller loads so it seems less to do, and then as soon as you have taken the washing out, load another one in there so all you have to do is turn it on next time. It seems less daunting that way.
Thank you Stormwhale - that's reminiscent of what a good friend of mine calls "opening the envelopes". Rather than fearing the mail (I'm actually not being sent debt collection threats or anything scary - but they're The Unknown!) - you open the envelopes. One at a time, and if you have to wait to read the mail, so be it. But the envelopes are open, and it's a baby step that moves you on iykwim?
It's become a shorthand between us for those sorts of baby steps
Armour of fabulous gets me out of the door.
So I put on my jewellery and make-up and imagine distracting them outdoors with shiny things.
1) know your limitations. If I had a 'busy' day yesterday I need a nothing day today, usually. On the flip side if I've had a few days on the sofa without showering, I do need to push myself to do something. Even if it's just get dressed and brush my hair. Don't be afraid to say 'I can't manage that today' about stuff if you really can't.
2) if you're feeling low and worthless, the most helpful thing I've found is physically writing down your achievements for the day. Like, I got the kids out of the door on time, I made the bed, I ate breakfast etc etc. Whatever you've done, no matter how inconsequential it might seem. They're all worthwhile.
3) Five/ten/fifteen minute chunks. Whatever you can manage. Set a timer and do something, whether it's put a load of washing on, deal with a phone call, get your coat on ready to go out. Set a time and do it.
4) keep it simple. My life has shrunk since I've been ill but that's ok. I do the school run, go to therapy and keep the house ticking over. That's pretty much all, and that's fine for now. Putting loads of pressure on yourself to do everything will make things worse. There is usually a simpler way to be.
5) ask for help. Communicate with people around you about how you feel. Dh checks in with me throughout the day and we have a scale of 1-5 where 1 is peachy and 5 is get help. It's easier than articulating how I feel. Find what works for you.
Exercise, eating healthily, drinking plenty and mindfulness exercises. And if you can't get out of the door think of something you really want to do e.g. Sitting down for a nice coffee with a book when you've done your jobs as an incentive. Also get in the habit of just leaving once you're ready without too much deliberating.
Baby steps. In everything.
Talk to yourself as if you are a loving mum.
Write down three things you are grateful for every night before you sleep.
Have a comfort item in your pocket - I had a smooth peace of obsidian for a while that I used to hold when I felt stressed. Now I have a spinning ring that I can fiddle with.
Imagine the absolute worst case scenario for everything - to the point of silly. For example, if I do this trumpet exam the worst thing that could happen is I swallow my trumpet. That kind of thing. It lightens the mood.
I've got others - I'll try to think of them.
I use mindfulness techniques, I also find music helps me, I take it everywhere with me in and out of the house, I try and drag myself to the gym at least 3 times a week (again with music, I pod) . I can't remember the last time I have managed a trip into town shopping, I used to love it but at the moment it's too daunting. I walk a lot but mainly where there are no people ( I'm lucky to live in the middle of nowhere), so for me exercise and music are my therapy.
Baby steps definitely. If I can't face doing anything I'll make a start by making lists.
And every day I follow Worra's advice on getting up in the morning - "just put both feet on the floor"
Think of your tasks as things you WANT to get done, rather than things you HAVE to do. Only put a couple of things on your mental (or paper) to-do list at a time. The more things on it, the more daunting it seems and the harder it is to get started on anything.
Celebrate the things you do and don't beat yourself up for the things you don't.
I like writing a list of five things I want to get done in a day. These can be as "simple" as getting up and dressed, having a shower, walking to the post box (literally two minutes away), reading something interesting in a book or online, cooking something with vegetables in it etc. If it's a really bad day, the list goes down to three.
I really like using timers. Doing something for five minutes doesn't seem intimidating and usually once I've started it isn't so bad and I'll carry on. Also, doing things in the breaks if you're watching tv gets a surprising amount done. I find it worse sitting in a mess and I try and use the adverts to get the room I'm in straight(er).
Getting up and dressed by a reasonable time into vaguely nice clothes makes a big difference to my mood too.
I try to use the endorphin high from decent exercise to get things done. I find after doing something that really gets my heart going, like an online les mills class, I feel much more relaxed and happier for several hours. So if I can do that first thing it gets me going for the day. It's a bonus if the exercise is something that gives extra positive feedback, for instance I'm currently chuffed to bits over getting my new veggie patch properly dug over, and I'm working on getting back into lifting weights so every time I can add another tiny bit of weight to the bar it is a success I savour.
Speaking of savouring things, I'm really prone to spiralling negative thoughts so if I can really consciously focus on a few good things (currently the beauty of the snowdrops outside my window, the tastiness of this coffee) it seems to help against the bad thoughts a little. This is something that has to happen all the time, not just when I'm feeling crap as by then it's too late.
I also count down my panic attacks by classing how panicky I feel out of ten, usually after a few moments just doing that helps me feel more in control and the number drops down to a manageable point.
I'm really very ill at the moment (agoraphobia depression anxiety) to the point I'm rarely leaving bedroom!
I'm stupidly proud that this weekend I had breakfast once, had a shower, hoovered, washed dishes.
Definitely small steps/breaking tasks down.
Not pushing yourself too hard (knowing your limits), quiet days following 'busy' or 'hard' days.
Celebrating little victories (my daughter telling me she's proud of me for having breakfast and a shower made me feel pathetically grateful for such an understanding daughter).
Just before doing something really hard (for me at the moment that's collecting the mail or putting bins out as both mean leaving the flat) tell yourself how proud you'll be you did it! And also with anxiety I tell myself that once it's done and I can do something that helps me feel calm again I'll feel much better 'by 6pm I'll be done and can watch my favourite tv show and I'll feel calmer'
if I'm feeling depressed i like to summon up the energy to do a little bit a cleaning or tidying. something v small and simple... often I find it snowballs into more cleaning, tidying which in turn inspires me to leave the house e.g to go to the dump, go to homebase to buy that organising thing i've been meaning to buy, whatever. otherwise the worst i end up with a cleaner living space and a small sense of achievement.
To stop and 'float'
I have bad panic attacks and used to fight and try to run away from them which escalated the panic and I would get into a right old state.
Now I try and focus on just floating in the moment while doing my breathing exercises and telling myself I'm safe etc.
It stops the attack escalating into something I can't cope with and means I can carry on with life while the anxiety pays out in the background.
If your concentration is affected and you can't read, audio books are great distraction and escapism. My DH got me a subsription to Audible when I was missing books.
Give yourself a break from thoughts by doing something you really need to use your brain for - sudoku although that can be too much, a word search is simple but just focus on finding each word until the whole thing is done 5 minute thought rest can be really helpful.
Sleep hygiene! Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, and not sleeping in too late (as far as babies/ children allow). I some interesting research recently that showed that sleep deprivation can be a very effective short-term cure for depression. Anecdotally I notice that my mood is often lifted if I have to get up very early, for whatever reason, and that the luxurious lie-in can make me feel groggy.
In winter I have started using a SAD light for an hour or as long as possible as early in the day as possible. I do notice a subtle difference in mood and energy levels and sleep quality over a few days.
As other people have said, getting up and dressed and, ideally, out for a walk in the fresh air in reasonable time...
And another second for audiobooks and podcasts: good for keeping your mind off things.
Green juices make me feel nourished and well, and I think keeping B vitamins / iron up has to be good for mood.
After reading a book about gut health, and after taking too many long-term antibiotics, I have been trying to take probiotics every day. Don't know yet if making a difference to MH but some minor stomach issues are improved.
What I don't have tips for are how to keep your MH up when physical health is bad, e.g. bed-bound for days/weeks at a time. I find this very hard.
Lists. To do lists. Even if the items are really small, I find it satisfying to tick off things from my lists, makes me feel like I'm really actually accomplishing stuff. Some days my to do lists are like go food shopping and do vacuuming, other days I need more Sit on side of bed, go into bathroom, wash face etc
Be kind to ourselves and baby steps.
Yes to baby steps. Be proud of what you have done, don't beat yourself up over what you haven't. Accept that you have limits and due to your illness you have to respect those limits. People who tell you to pull yourself together are asshats. I have a rough weekly routine for what I do. I don't give myself too much to do each day, and I allow myself to feel proud of myself when I manage everything. Be kind to yourself.
Oh I so needed to read this today. Thank you all.
Thank you to everyone who's commented. I've failed to leave the house today - my "big" steps were conquering the panic to tell my boss in some detail (by text) why I couldn't come in, and being brave enough to check whether he'd replied. Also getting dressed. I'm going to try some of your approaches, especially around the baby steps and breaking things down that seems to be a very common tactic.
Thank you all, and to everyone else struggling
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