The sunlight wakes you up. You’re excited about your day but there’s a heavy feeling on your chest, suppressing your efforts in wanting to feel joy. But you’re really excited about your day. You try to stay in bed and wait for the heaviness to lift, but it eventually overwhelms you.
On days when I feel like this, I usually have a plan for myself. Or at least, I’d like to think that my 100% self has devised a plan for the 50% or lower state of me. Mental health days are necessary, but they’re never the most fun thing to experience. A lot like sick days, we can tackle the issue in many ways.
Make a not-to-do list
When I’m going through a tough day, I know that I have a set of responses I practically run to, hence this not-to-do list is a good cue for me to acknowledge that some of these responses could just be distortions of the moment. Whether it’s your bullet journal, planner, or notebook, you can write this list at the beginning of the book or bookmark it with a tab so that you can find it easily when you need it.
I’d write down my insecurities, emotions I find myself clinging onto during stressful times, and even numbing mechanisms—the key is to recognise that you might be feeling some of the things on the list, not to completely abandon them and not do it. Once you’ve done that, you can then decide with a clearer mind about how you would like to properly respond.
Tip: Three items is a good number to kickstart your list.
Journal truthfully, no filters
Create a safe space and let your thoughts out without any self-judgement. It’s important to express your thoughts honestly to yourself, whether it’s in the good times or the bad. The goal is to get everything out of your mind and body physically on to a piece of paper, even if it might mean destroying a page or two.
I have a habit of not wanting to confront my emotions, so if you’re like me, write it down and get every detail out of your mind or do some angry doodles until you’re satisfied. Don’t worry, your notebooks are made to be fully-utilised in that way. It’s pretty effective to get your feelings out. The key is to give yourself the space to do it.
Tip: Give yourself a goal, like filling up an entire page.
Watch a feel-good movie
Pick your favourite movie, get comfortable in your couch, then cry or laugh your insides out for a couple of hours. It’s the definition of going back to your comfort zone, but this is one of the times when you’ll need being inside this zone rather than beyond it.
So make yourself a cup of tea, eat some chips or ice-cream, get comfortable and let the story, music, and emotions take over. Some of my personal favourites include We Bought A Zoo, Lady Bird, and practically any dog movies.
Tip: Keep a list handy to add any new movies that come into mind.
Count your blessings
No, I’m not going to ask you to list five things you’re grateful for and glaze over them until something magical happens. Gratitude is hard work. It takes effort and continual conscious decisions to be thankful for the things you have in your life. But the people who practise gratitude even when they don’t necessarily feel grateful, those are often the people who are the happiest and the most resilient.
It starts with noticing the little things in your life. A roof over your head, a comfortable bed, clean water to drink—these are all great to start with. Then get honest, and specific: I am thankful for being able to take public transport safely to work; I am thankful for the smile I got from a stranger across the street this morning; I am thankful for my best friend who is always so patiently listening to me. Keep practising gratitude.
Tip: Be specific with every point of gratitude.
Keep track of how you feel
Reflect and journal about how you responded to your day today. Count your losses and victories, give yourself a pat on the back, and know that you’ll always have tomorrow to start all over again.
Tracking your mood allows for you to search for a pattern and spot an anomaly if it ever occurs. Moods are often a mixed bag and not always singular, so keeping track on the multiplicity of moods would show you how your moods fluctuate. (Bonus: colouring them in can be therapeutic, too)
Tip: Highlight an important event every day that causes you to feel the most.
At the end of the day, we hope you realise that you’re only human. You have bad days and you need to rest. Sometimes you need more time to recover, sometimes you need less.
Quiet down, listen to your body and do what you need to get it up and running again. Whether it will take two hours or eight, work on understanding yourself more through this bad day. You’ll feel better soon enough.
If you have any alternative remedies for bad days, let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.
P/S: In conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month, enjoy 15% off Sketchbooks and Notebooks with the code GREENRIBBON15! Code expires May 31st, 2019.