50 Ways to Practice Self-Care when your Mental Health is Crap

I’m dealing with a slew of mental health issues right now - depression, PTSD symptoms flaring up, early recovery for another issue I’m finally ready to deal with, and I’ve been scatter-brained about taking my bipolar meds. Not to mention the seasons are changing and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) kicks my ass every year.

I’m also working on a few blog posts with some heavy emotions attached. I'm working on one about body image, my journey with body positivity, and what healing from eating disorders looks like in our society riddled with diet-culture. Can’t wait to share with you all, but I am taking my sweet time writing the piece.

Naturally all of this means I’ve had tons of emotions and I’ve had to do lots of self-care lately. Self-care is being sure to take care of our emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health. It’s being sure we don’t overlook aspects of our well-being, to the best of our abilities. For me, it often means practicing a whole lot of gentleness because when my mental health is suffering, it makes the most basic tasks incredibly difficult. So, don't mind the self-deprecating title of this post. I was in no spirits to come up with another. ;) 

This blog post is going to be a bit short this week, but it’s part of my self-care to not push myself when I’m tender and instead settle for good enough. Here is a list of 50 self-care practices when you’re struggling with poor mental health. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive list, and some may not apply to your life. But, I hope you can pull a few practices  to try whether you struggle with mental health issues or could just use some gentleness in your day.

50 Ways to Practice Self-Care when your Mental Health is Crap

  1. Snuggle an animal.

  2. Pet others animals in public... with permission.

  3. Say yes to a meal with a friend you love dearly.

  4. Take a sick day from work. Don't feel bad about it. 

  5. Dust a book off your shelf and read it. Or, at least read a few pages.

  6. Go to work, do your best, and tell someone you’re struggling.

  7. Take frequent breaks at work, even if they're just to take a deep breath in the bathroom. 

  8. Read body positive blogs like the Fuck It Diet, Love, Food, and Bawdy Love.

  9. Make yourself a cup of your favorite flavor of warm tea.

  10. Make yourself tea, then add a bunch of ice cubes to the cup. Feel the sensations of the temperature.

  11. Sit outside and stare at the sky. Lay in the grass if you can. 

  12. When your attention spans lasts 5 minutes, be okay with coming back inside.

  13. Say no to someone asking you to do something you don’t want to do. 

  14. Avoid toxic people while you’re hypersensitive. Sometimes this means family.

  15. Say no to events that will trigger you.

  16. Be ok with many nights feeling like you’re acting selfishly by saying no.

  17. Ask a friend if you can come crash on their couch and have a slumber party.

  18. Bring popcorn and fuzzy socks to said slumber party.

  19. Cook a simple meal from scratch with one of your favorite ingredients. (I made cardamom baked pears recently- YUM and super easy)

  20. Do some therapeutic writing. Prompts can be found through a quick google search.

  21. Donate books you don’t read anymore.

  22. Workout for 15 minutes.

  23. Don’t work out.

  24. Don’t beat yourself up about not working out.

  25. Mindfully eat a meal.

  26. Totally un-mindfully scarf down a bunch of sweets. (I've been really into vegan ice cream lately).

  27. Stop reading a book that you started and feel obliged to finish.

  28. Pick up a new book that you’re excited about.

  29. Only do exercise that makes your body feel good. (For me, simple stretching is all sometimes.)

  30. Avoid exercises you think you “should” be doing. (Cycling hurts my knees. I hate cycling. I don’t do it).

  31. Take "should" out of your vocabulary entirely. Quit “shoulding” on yourself.

  32. Tell your partner how they can best support you.

  33. Tell your roommate how they can best support you.

  34. Donate clothes that taunt you or that you no longer wear.

  35. Go to Goodwill and find a lovely outfit that fits great.

  36. Take a nap. Don’t set an alarm.

  37. Lower your expectations of yourself. Be ok with being mediocre right now. 

  38. Go to a 12 step meeting or a support group.

  39. Call or text an old friend to meet up over a cup of coffee.

  40. Buy a coloring book and some crayons. Color away.

  41. Practice a 3 minute guided meditation.

  42. Do a Pinterest DIY project with an old shirt that no longer fits.

  43. Laugh if said Pinterest project ends up disastrous (mine usually do).

  44. Binge watch Netflix. Watch a show that’s silly and not too emotional.

  45. Throw your to-do list in the trash for a day.

  46. Go for a gentle stroll.

  47. Blast music that matches your mood (for me, this is often Slipknot or Katy Perry interchangeably).

  48. Make a gratitude list about things you’re grateful for in your life.

  49. Make a gratitude list about body parts of yours you’re grateful for and why.

  50. Put on some nice scented lotion.

And remember above everything to be gentle with yourself. I have a post coming up about how we make life even more difficult by layering blame, shame, guilt, and remorse onto ourselves. Give yourself a break. Mental health is as important as physical health, and when someone tells me to go workout for an hour, or eat a kale salad, or make sure to shower, sometimes it's the last thing I want to hear. I have to meet myself where I'm at and I hope you can, too.


Interested in mental health, feminism, body positivity, and social justice? SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG UPDATES BELOW!

Name *

Originally published on 9/26/2016