Category Archives: self care

36.5 Days Of Self Care

As I’ve mentioned before I try and do some form of self care each day. This idea comes from The Blurt Foundation who brought us the awesome #365daysofselfcare project (You can read about my experience here). So I thought it was about time I shared some ideas of things to do that count as self care as it’s not always obvious what constitutes self care. It doesn’t have to be big gestures. It can be small as long as you’re putting you first. Self care isn’t selfish though. It helps us help others. It fuels us. So below find my 36.5 ideas (365 different ideas was beyond me, sorry).

1. Have a shower: This, supposedly, simple act can make all the difference. It makes you feel more normal.

2. Have a nap: Naps are amazing. Sometimes a nap can be just what we need.

3. Go for a walk: Getting outside is useful. It seems hard but the exercise can release endorphins.

4. Brush your teeth: This is one I struggle with but it does make me feel better.

5. Take your medication: Always a good thing. It may seem small but it’s still self care.

6. Read: If you have the concentration, taking the time out to read can be therapeutic.

7. Eat something: This is quite important. You need to be nourished to help you feel better. It doesn’t have to be massive or complicated.

8. Put clean bed sheets on the bed: This one takes a little more effort but is there anything better than clean sheets?

9. Put on clean pyjamas: This just helps you feel a bit nicer.

10. Brush your hair: Sometimes this feels the hardest thing to do but it can help us feel more human.

11. Attend medical appointments: Not always easy but it helps if we look after ourselves physically and mentally.

12. Talk to someone about how you feel: Talking is useful if we’re struggling. Or even if your not. Sharing your feelings is a good thing.

13. Wash your hair: This always makes me feel more human, especially when I really don’t feel like doing it.

14. Write: Having an outlet for what you’re feeling is always good or can be useful as a distraction.

15. Watch a movie: This can be a useful distraction. And it can make us feel better if we act opposite, for example watching a comedy when we feel sad.

16. Meet a friend: It can be useful to get out the house and meeting a friend can be a useful reason to get out. If you don’t feel like going out then maybe invite a friend over. You don’t need to talk just be together.

17. Build a pillow fort: Sometimes we need to get in contact with our inner child and what’s better than to make a pillow fort.

18. Catch up on TV: This can be a useful distraction.

19. Play with pets: Animals are an awesome way to make yourself feel better. They are really comforting I find.

20. Paint: Being creative can be a useful way to express yourself.

21. Bake: This can be soothing and you end up with something yummy to eat afterwards. Win, win.

22. Do some colouring: This can help us focus on something and get out of our heads for a while. It can be really relaxing too.

23. Play a board game: It can be nice to cut off from social media and technology for a while. A board game can allow us to do just that.

24. Listen to a podcast or music: These, again, are a good distraction and can quieten the thoughts in our heads.

25. Visit a bookshop: I love being around books. A bookshop can be a really calming place to be as its generally quiet.

26. Drink water: Keeping hydrated is important.

27. Have an early night: Sleep is also important. Having the occasional early night can help us feel better

28. Create a self soothe box: This can be useful to get ready for when you’re distressed or feel awful. It can incorporate things for each of the senses. So that could include a blanket, some nice smelling candles, your favourite treat, etc.

29. Play with Lego: I love Lego. I find it soothing to organise my Lego. But building is just as good.

30. Have a bubble bath: If you want to just lay back and enjoy the warm water then go for it.

31. Go out in the garden: If you have a garden then it’s an easy way of getting fresh air with no social contact.

32. Watch the clouds: While you’re outside, or even through the window, watch the clouds and just focus on the shapes you see.

33. Curl up with a soft toy: Soft toys can be a great way of feeling safe. It’s not childish.

34. Take photos: Focusing on the image you want to capture can be absorbing and allow you out of your mind for a while.

35. Take a break from social media: Sometimes we just need to shut off and it can be helpful to our wellbeing to take a break every once in a while.

36. Sing: You don’t need to be good but just singing can lift your mood.

36.5. Say No: This may be the hardest of the lot. It’s OK to say no to things when they are not in our best interests. It’s not selfish.

So there are a few of my ideas for self care. Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

Advertisements

Why Taking A Break Is Important

Recently I had a short break from blogging, or doing anything linked to campaigning, and it brought up a lot of different emotions. I thought, therefore, I would reflect on that and discuss why it was important to take a break as well as ways to take a break.

Why did I take a break and how did it make me feel?

The main reason I took a break was because everything was becoming overwhelming. I was struggling mentally and physically. I’d had some news that made me take a step back and look at my life. Basically I just wasn’t coping. When I first decided though that I was going to take a short break I wasn’t happy with my decision. I felt an intense feeling of guilt that I was putting myself first. I also felt that I was letting people down by not blogging or campaigning as much. However as I got further in to the break I started to feel a little better about the whole situation and realised that it was what I needed in order to carry on helping others.

Why is taking a break important?

Taking a break is important as it allows you to regroup and recharge. If you wear yourself right down you cannot continue to help other people and your fear of letting others down is more likely to become a reality. The phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is so true. Without the break, when I took it, I would have been out of action longer and had to say no to people. It was also important for me mentally as my head was becoming clouded and I was losing enjoyment in what I was doing. Being able to recharge brought back that enjoyment.

How can I take a break?

Here are some ways that helped me take a step back:

  1. Go offline: switching off from the internet was key for me. It may have only been a few hours at a time but it allowed me to focus on enjoying the moments I was living rather than constantly checking social media.
  2. Don’t plan too much: allow yourself time to just be without always rushing to appointments or being stuck to a schedule. Free time is key to having a break.
  3. Be in the here and now: don’t always be focussing on recording what you’re doing. Be present. Enjoy the moment.

Overall taking the break was the right thing to do. It’s allowed me to come back with more ideas and take part in more events. It’s not always easy to take a break but it’s important.

If you have any tips on taking a break fee free to share in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Coping With Stress

Stress is a part of everyday life but when you have a mental illness it can be more difficult to deal with. We all know what it is like to feel stressed and to deal with the pressures of life. There is, however, a link between mental illness and stress. Stress can cause mental illness but also mental illness can cause stress. Therefore it is important to be aware of the signs of stress and how to cope with it.

Stress can give us both mental and physical signs to look out for. You might feel irritable, anxious, depressed or like your thoughts are racing. Your behaviour might change and you might find yourself finding it hard to make decisions, snapping at people or unable to concentrate. The physical signs of stress can include headaches, indigestion, feeling sick, being tired all the time or having problems with sleep. For more information on the signs of stress check out the Mind website here.

How can I cope with stress?

Below are a few ways that I have found helpful when trying to cope with stress. Hopefully they will be useful.

1. Have a routine: Routines really help me when I am feeling stressed. They mean I make sure essential things get done and I can build into them other things that I need to do. Routines make me feel safe and secure. However, try to be flexible with your routine otherwise it can create more stress if things don’t go to plan. It is ok if routines have to change. It is not the end of the world though it can feel like it.

2. Learn to say NO: This is something I find incredibly hard to do but it is so important. It is ok to say no to things in order to give yourself time to look after you. Self care is important and the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is so true. However, I understand that it can be difficult as you don’t want to let people down or feel left out. The truth is you will let more people down and miss out more of you keeping saying yes and then the stress gets too much.

3. Try to be organised: This is easier said than done sometimes but being organised can really help. When I plan things it really helps to reduce my anxiety and I would be lost without my phone to help me. Having everything written down and recorded helps me to feel more at ease and I stress much less about an event if I know what I am doing. 

4. Talk to others: The phrase “a problem shared is a problem halved” rings very true at times of stress. If you talk to others about how you are feeling you may find they can help you. And even if they can’t it can be highly therapeutic to get how you are feeling off your chest. You might be surprised and find others are feeling the same which can make you feel less isolated and alone. I

5. Avoid drugs and alcohol: It can be tempting when stressed to self medicate with drugs or alcohol. This is very rarely a good idea and will more often end up making you feel worse. Try instead to eat well and drink plenty of water. This can help you feel much better.

These are just a few ways to cope with stress that I have found useful. For more information on stress check out the Mind website. If you have any ways that have helped you cope with stress feel free to share in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Things That Help My Mental Health

Having a mental illness is exhausting and can take it out of you. This means it is important to find things you like or enjoy that can help you when you are feeling particularly bad. Below are some of the things that, over the years, I have found help me and how they’ve helped me. I haven’t included people or pets in this as they are separate things I feel deserve a blog post of their own.

1. Harry Potter: I am a massive Harry Potter fan. I love the world and the detail in it. But Harry Potter means a lot to me because of how it has helped me. I grew up as the Harry Potter books and films were being released. It helped me to fit in with friends at school. I was never very good at making friends but it gave me something to talk about and have in common with others. Harry Potter helped me feel less alone in a world that was difficult for me to navigate because of my mental illness. Harry Potter also offered me an escape from the real world and a brain that was struggling. It still does. I revisit Harry Potter again and again when times are tough.

2. Reading: I’ve already mentioned my love of Harry Potter but reading in general has always been a huge part of my life and something I love to do. It offers me an escape from the workings of my mind, and takes me into different worlds. It can also help me understand more about myself. I read a wide variety of books, encompassing non-fiction and fiction. I’ll read about philosophy and psychology, to understand about our brains and society, but I’ll also read children’s books to escape from the difficulties of the day. I just love reading.

3. Music: I don’t think I would still be here if it wasn’t for music. It means such a lot to me and is a big part of my life. I have found an escape in music; when things are difficult it is easy for me to lose myself in the songs. It is also a great distraction from the voice I hear; I can just out my earphones in and try to drown it out. Music has also helped me to express how I am feeling, not by playing myself, but by finding songs with lyrics that express what I am trying to say. At times I’ve found it hard to show an emotion but music has allowed me to do it in an easy way.

4. Writing: It might be hard to believe but I used to hate writing. Throughout my education I was told I was no good at it so I resisted doing it. However since leaving education I have found a love for expressing myself this way. It helps me to get things out of my head and written down in front of me to see. It has become my main way of expressing myself; I’d much rather write something down than say it. Now writing is something I am passionate about and would love to do as a career. I feel it is something I am getting better at with time.

So those are a few of the things that help me with my mental health. There are others that have had an impact too. What things have helped you with your mental health? Feel free to share in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Book Review: The Self Care Project

Picture from Pinterest 

Overview

“The Self Care Project” by Jayne Hardy is a book aimed at helping you make the most of your time to look after yourself. It looks at the term self care and what it means in real life. It gives advice on how to incorporate self care into your every day life and tips on what to do when loving yourself feels alien. It is a practical guide with activities to do along the way.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. The tone that the book is written in is that of a friend who understands just how hard caring for yourself can be. It does not lecture you on what you should be doing, but instead inspires you to make changes, along with suggestions of how this can be done. It accepts that sometimes we are going to fail and instead of telling you off for that, it has practical solutions.

Jayne Hardy is honest about her own difficulties in this book and this helps you feel more at ease when reading as you realise you are not alone. Jayne makes you feel like she cares deeply about what you do and your well being and that is why she has written this book just for you. 

The description of depression in this book is the best I have ever read. It shows just how paradoxical depression can be and how we are all different in the way we suffer. It makes you feel understood and therefore maybe it is possible for you to incorporate self care and feel better about yourself.

The book also incorporated practical exercises to get you thinking about each area it was discussing, with templates as a guide. These templates look great, are simple to follow and easy to recreate, which means it isn’t turning self care into an arduous concept (which would defeat the point). I am really looking forward to filling in some of these as part of my bullet journal.

Another area of the book I really thought was useful and well written was the discussion surrounding our boundaries and what to do when they go a bit wonky. Jayne Hardy acknowledges that this is not an area that is easy to manage and admits to having trouble in this area too, which makes you feel understood. She explains why it is so important to have these boundaries in place but admits its not always easy. This gives you a realistic view of what it will be like to incorporate this self care. 

Overall I really recommend this book for anyone, not just those struggling with their mental health. It has lessons we can all learn something from. It is very relevant in our society today and has realistic expectations of those reading it. It is practical. Unlike other self help books, it is encouraging and breaks everything down into small steps. It also has emergency self care for different situations to refer to. Thank you Jayne for writing this book.

If you have read this book, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

#365daysofselfcare

If you follow me on twitter you may know that I have been taking part in something called #365daysofselfcare set up by The Blurt Foundation. The idea is to do some form of self care every day. Today marks day 365 of the challenge for me, so I thought I would reflect back on it.

Self care is something I have always struggled with. I struggle with the idea that I am worth anything and therefore I don’t always feel I deserve to look after myself. However through this challenge I have learnt that self care is incredibly important for my mental health.

Self care makes a real difference to mental health. I was sceptical when I started the challenge. I didn’t see how doing little things could make a difference to my well being. I was wrong though. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying this is a magic cure and that you will feel brilliant all the time. By doing something for myself each day I felt I was achieving something which made me feel a little better about myself as well as showing myself some self respect.

So what kind of things did I do as part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge? My self care took on many forms and ranged from small things such as a nap to bigger things like a day out at a scarecrow festival. Other things I did included haircuts, clean bed sheets, eating 3 meals, drinking plenty, talking to people, playing with my pets, relaxing in my hammock and enjoying time outside.

What next? So now I’ve come to the end of the challenge I’ve been debating what to do next. I have decided that I am going to carry on with trying to do a bit of self care every day. I’m also going to still share it on twitter as I feel that recording it means I make sure I try to do something each day (I’m by no means always successful as is shown by the fact that to achieve 365 days has taken me over a year).

I would also like to say thank you to The Blurt Foundation for coming up with this challenge. It has really helped me and I would encourage everyone to give it a go. Remember you are worth looking after and deserve to respect yourself. You are worthy. Here’s to the next #365daysofselfcare.

Picture from Pinterest by introvert doodles.

Sleep and Mental Health

Sleep is a huge part of our lives and can have a massive effect on our well being, both physical and mental. Therefore I thought I would discuss some of the problems I have with sleep as well as some tips to improve sleep.

I have had all sorts of issues with my sleep over the years and, for me, it has become an indicator for when I’m struggling mentally. I can either sleep too much or struggle to get enough sleep. Both have down sides and are a symptom of depression. Currently I am struggling with getting to sleep. I take two medications at night that have a sedative effect but at the moment it is taking hours to fall asleep. This leads to me feeling constantly exhausted. This constant tiredness has an effect on my mood. When I haven’t had enough sleep I feel irritable and a lot lower. My tolerance to deal with things is much lower and I am triggered more easily. So getting enough sleep is vital to me staying mentally stable.

So what are some tips for improving sleep?

You might of heard people going on about good sleep hygiene before and dismissed it but I have found some bits of it really do work. Here are some things I have tried.

1. Getting a good bedtime routine- I find having a routine for things really helps me. I love routine in many different areas of my life so adding in a routine for bed sounded good for me. My routine involves getting ready for bed at a certain time and building in time to wind down as well as taking my night time medication. My routine is really important to me and I do struggle if its put out at all.

2. Set times to go to bed and get up in the morning – This builds on from having a bed time routine. I have found that having a regular time to go to bed and get up by has helped me to sleep better. It has also improved my mental state as I feel I’ve accomplished something when I stick to it.

3. No screens in bed – I slip up on this one quite a bit but I do find if I haven’t been using a screen in bed I sleep better. This is all to do with the blue light that screens give off. If you feel you need your screen you can get things to reduce the amount of blue light. My tablet even has an option to reduce the blue light.

4. Not napping for long in the day – This is another one I struggle with as I love a good nap. I’m not saying never nap but try to reduce the amount of time you nap for. Sometimes if I haven’t napped at all I find it harder to get to sleep but short naps are useful.

There are other things you can do to improve sleep hygiene such as exercise or reduce caffeine. These are not things I have tried so cannot really discuss. For more information check out the Mind website. And if you have any tips for a better nights sleep feel free to share in the comments.

Image from Pinterest