There are a wild amount of misconceptions about self-care: that it's simply painting your nails while having a cry session, that it's exclusively for women, and that it's only necessary for individuals who struggle with mental health. This, in my opinion, greatly derives from the overall stigma against mental health in our modern society. As the conversation surrounding mental health has begun, I think it's equally as important to start a conversation about how one can (and should) deal with bad days, whether you're struggling with mental health or not. Think of it as hygiene: you wouldn't walk out of the house without brushing your teeth (I hope), so why would you without preparing your mind and soul, too?
1. Get Clean
Take a bath, wash your hair, have a shaving party. Feeling good physically is the first step to feeling good overall.
2. Skin Routine
This goes with getting clean - make your skin feel good, too. Do whatever your routine may be. If you don't have one, here's a simple one: wash, exfoliate, moisturize, and try not to touch your face a lot afterwards. Do one of those face masks, too - those ones that makes you look like a ghost are hilarious.
3. Make some yummy (and healthy) food
Not only is cooking a great activity to distract your mind, but who doesn't love food, right? Make your favorite meal or snack, something warm and comfort-y, but also something that won't make your stomach hate you. My personal favs: soup or stir fry, a biiiig salad, anything with avocado, smoothies.
4. Warm, yummy drinks:
Think coffee, tea with honey, hot chocolate, stuff like that.
5. Cold, refreshing drinks:
Chug water. Easiest thing to do when you're not feeling good. And after you've hydrated, have some juice or something. If you're a wine mom (like me), treat yourself to one nice glass.
6. Put on something comfy
But not something that'll tempt you to crawl in your bed and hide from the world - i.e., not PJs, but leggings, soft pants, or even undies.
7. Do something productive
Organize something. Clean out a room or even just a drawer. Do that thing that you've been wanting to get done - something you've put off because it's not your top priority.
8. Do something creative!!
Read, write, draw, paint, sing, play your instrument, dance, code, cook, do makeup, design - do something that makes your soul happy.
9. Work out - but not too hard.
If you're having trouble motivating, incentivize yourself. Make a plan for the day, map out exactly when to work out, exactly what you're gonna do, and exactly how you're gonna treat yourself afterwards. If you're not a fan of the fishbowl that is the local gym, go play your favorite sport - shoot some hoops, pass the volleyball around, kick the soccer ball, whatever it may be. Also, yoga is awesome for re-centering. Light some candles, turn on some low music, and stretch it out.
10. Watch something that makes you happy
Whether it's a show or a movie or maybe some old vines, watch something that'll make you laugh- but not too much. Don't let yourself get sucked into the void and waste your day.
Go to sleep early and sleep in, but not for too long. Also, perfect nap length is about 20 minutes. If you need to be productive but you're tired as hell, chug some coffee, take a 20 minute power-nap, and by the time you wake up the coffee will have kicked in.
12. Let yourself feel whatever it is that you're feeling
This is probably the most important one. If you don't acknowledge a) the fact that you're down, or b) whatever it may be that's getting you down, it is so so so much harder to bring yourself back up. Feel what you're feeling and try to pinpoint what's causing it. It's okay if you can't - you don't need a reason for feeling down. Cry it out, too. Honestly, you'll feel so much better afterwards. Remember, vulnerability isn't weakness.
Obviously, this isn't a science and isn't a sure-fire way to make yourself feel all the way better, especially if what you're dealing with is more than just a bad day. If that's the case, remember that getting help is not a bad thing, as scary as it might seem. Therapy is nothing to be ashamed of, and while it may be difficult to find a therapist who works for you, it is completely worth it. We surround ourselves with professionals in every aspect of our life - doctors, financial advisors, educators - so why not do the same with your mental health? Take the measures that you need to maintain a balanced, healthy, and happy life. And remember, bad days are normal, and even more than that, they are necessary to really appreciate the good ones. You're doing great, sweetie. :)