What to do if you’re having a bad day

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Bad days. We’ve all had them. Sometimes it’s a combination of little things going wrong, sometimes it’s something major that really upsets us or pisses us off. Sometimes we wake up in a shitty mood and have absolutely no idea why. Most of the time I’m in a great mood, yet there are those days where I just can’t get on board with the whole happiness thing. Small things set me off, anything from stepping in a puddle and getting soaked to being extremely decaffeinated can really affect my mood on any given day.

Lets face it. Bad days are shit. They makes us feel crappy and our self esteem momentarily plummets. They’re hard to deal with if you suddenly have one and mind-numbingly painful if you have a constant string of them. We could really do without them, but unfortunately they’re inevitable. But we can try and make them a bit less crappy. Here’s some advice on what to do the next time your day isn’t going great.

 

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Acknowledging and accepting your mood helps make you more mindful of what triggers you feeling low. Whenever I’m not feeling great I simply say to myself, either out loud or in my head if in public, “This happened and it made me feel sad/hurt/stressed/anxious etc. and that’s OK.” Accepting that you feel a bit rubbish instead of repressing it and trying to carry on as if everything is coming up roses will actually make you feel ten times better.

Another great way is to write your thoughts down in a journal. Putting your thoughts and feelings into words and getting them out of your head is a huge release and will feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Next time you’re not feeling great spend ten minutes writing down what happened and how it made you feel. You can bullet point it, write it like a diary entry or a full on rant. Whatever works for you. Try it and see how it makes you feel.

 

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Treating yourself to a little something, be it chocolate, takeaway coffee,  a night watching Netflix and eating ice cream in bed or even an impulse purchase , can help turn a crappy day around. Now I’m not saying you should buy a new dress or make your way through a whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s ( they’re going to start doing dairy free flavours how exciting! Sorry lactose intolerant here, anyway I digress) whenever you’re not feeling your best, but doing something you’d like to do rather than should do can really have a positive impact on your overall mood and well being. It tells your mind that you’re worth the indulgence. Hey if calorie consumption is a form of self love I’m all for it. Next time you’re feeling low ask yourself “What little thing would make my day a bit better?” and do it.

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Exercise is one of the best mood boosters around. I find that in weeks when I get round to exercising everyday my mood fluctuates a lot less. It’s when I don’t always have time to let off steam that I’m more likely to get irritated and impatient which can trigger a crappy mood. Don’t feel you have to bust your gut for an hour at the gym though. Just 10-15 minutes of moderate exercise is enough to release endorphins and boost your mood. Choose something you enjoy, like a jog or brisk walk around the block or a dance or Zumba video on YouTube. I find that 20 minutes of yoga at the end of the day can take me from the foulest of moods to feeling like an angel. There are plenty of great exercise videos on YouTube that you can do at home with little or no equipment, most of which are only 10-20 minutes long. Choose something you like the look of and master it or mix it up everyday.

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Music can have an enormous affect on our mood. It can clear away the cobwebs, inspire us or take us back to a fond memory. Make yourself a playlist of your favourite songs and listen to it whenever you feel low. When I was having a bad day my sister made me a Spotify playlist called “songs to cheer Stella up”, filled with songs from our childhood, private joke songs and ones full of inspiring lyrics and upbeat tempos. It’s one of the nicest things someone has ever done for me and I was so touched. I live away from home for uni and miss her terribly, so having something like that full of songs we share together keeps me going through the hard times. I’ve found that different genres are great for when you need different things:

Cheering up: Soul/ motown, pop

Calming down from anger or tears: angry rock/ pop punk/ screamo (yes really! I find the volume and aggression takes it out of me and calms me down)

Getting over rejection/heartache/ a nasty comment/situation: ballads/ musical soundtracks ( you need lyrics that sum up how you feel – ABBA’s heartbreak ballads and Les Miserables are great for this)

Getting pumped up and re-motivated after a setback: 00’s pop punk and RnB (you need that sass)

Soothing/ comfort: songs from your childhood ( I’m a nineties girl so any S Club 7, Steps etc. always does the trick)
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Probably one of the most important things we should do for our well-being, yet a lot of us wouldn’t know where to start. We expect so much of ourselves on a daily basis; we should be productive, we should eat healthily, we should exercise, should, should, should. But when you’re not feeling great pushing yourself to do all this “should” stuff can be dangerous. It will make you feel ten times worse and then you’ll be less productive and be even harsher on yourself. It’s a vicious circle.

When a mood low strikes, take a step back and soothe yourself. Get into some jimmys, get into bed with a hot drink and read or watch a sitcom. If you’re out of the house go for a walk around the park/ block for ten minutes and make a note to yourself that you will go easy on yourself that evening. Make yourself get through the work day and then do you the minute you get through that door. Cook your favourite food, put on some lounge wear and just relax.

 

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Whenever I’ve had a rough day I watch “Red Dwarf”, a hit 90s sci-fi comedy, as it I find it immensely comforting. It was the first comedy I really got into and whenever I watch it it takes me back to my former thirteen year old self, who was relatively happy in her own nerdy bubble.  Do something you adore and that makes your heart glow; watch your favourite film, read a book or poem that inspires you, draw, write, whatever, even if you can only spare yourself thirty minutes.  Taking comfort in something you love will make you feel better, after all these are the things that make our life more fulfilling. Cram them in whenever you can.

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Water is extremely soothing, so having a bath or shower at the end of a long day can seriously help. I always feel a lot calmer and lighter after showering when I’m in a bad mood, it’s almost as if I’ve managed to wash off all the rubbish thoughts of the day and let them go down the drain. Add a little bit of mindfulness into the mix and you’ve got yourself some serious water therapy. Notice the warmth of the water on your skin, the smell of your shampoo, the feeling of steam on your face. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the tub or shower to make it more relaxing. A good sing song is also extremely therapeutic. The shower doesn’t care if you’re tone deaf.

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When we’re feeling down we can feel very disconnected and alone. Simple contact such as a hug can do wonders for our mood. Especially if the other person smells good.

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This is something me and my mum came up with. Pollyanna is the main character of Eleanor H. Porter’s best-selling novel of the same name, who always aims to find at least one positive thing in a situation or day (then she gets run over and can’t walk and can’t think of anything positive which is so heartbreaking, but again I digress). This is a great thing to do daily and helps you readjust your outlook and challenge negative thoughts. So maybe you were stuck inside all day doing uni work/ working and it bored your head off. But maybe you had a really nice conversation with someone or you had a really nice lunch or cup of coffee ( I mean when has coffee been anything but positive seriously). Make a habit to practise this daily and you’ll soon find yourself looking for the positive in situations that you’re not a huge fan of.

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Don’t bottle it up and feel rubbish on your lonesome. If some thing particular has bothered you then talk it through with someone. Not only does it help you let go, but it will help you get a different perspective. Whenever I feel low I ring a close friend or my parents; people I can be truly honest with. I know I don’t have to hold back and just say what I feel, which is extremely refreshing. You’re always welcome to hit me up on social media or on here if you want someone to talk about it with.

 

What makes you feel better after a bad day? Comment below with your feel good tips, I’d love to hear what you have to say. In the meantime check me out on pinterest, where I’ve made a “mood booster”board for you, full of everything you need to help you feel a bit better, from feel good playlists to pictures of cute otters. What more could you want?!

Until next time lovelies

Stella

xxx

 

How to help a loved one in a bad time

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It is in our innate nature to look out for and care for one another. We hold doors open for others, pick up something they’ve dropped, give directions when someone is lost, give up our seat on public transport for someone less able than us. These gestures are part of everyday life and are some of the ways that we extend kindness to strangers. If we have manners that is. And when those who are closest to us are feeling under the weather we let them know we’re there for them. We send flowers and cards, we visit them in hospital, we do any odd jobs that can help them out. We naturally want to help each other out. Unless you’re a miserable bastard. But how do you help someone out when it’s not visible that they are in need?

The thing is with all the gestures above is that they’re natural reactions to a situation when it plays out in front of us.  You wouldn’t begrudge a pregnant woman a seat on the tube or stand there as an elderly man struggles to get up after having a nasty fall.  Society tells us how we should react to such events. But what we haven’t been taught to do is help people out when the matter in hand isn’t visual, but mental. There’s no social protocol for helping someone out with mental illness.

Helping someone through a tough time isn’t easy, because we can’t see what’s wrong. Half the time it’s like walking through a mine field; tiptoeing around, not wanting to set off any explosions. The societal stigma surrounding conditions like depression doesn’t help either. The whole “keep calm and carry on” mentality Britain is plagued with means that when someone suddenly can’t function  our initial reaction is that they’re being awkward, melodramatic or just attention-seeking, rather than think about what the real reason might be as to why they aren’t being themselves.

Also as the problem is linked to emotions,  we all react differently. There isn’t a set way of helping someone out, we can’t fashion up a “one size fits all” social protocol like we can with what to do when someone is off work sick or has dropped their wallet. What may seem like the perfect way to deal with something for you, may offend or upset your best friend.

So here’s a little guide to make reaching out to those in need a little easier. It’s not extensive and these aren’t definite solutions, but for those of you that don’t suffer from such conditions it may give you a better understanding of what your loved ones are going through. When you understand something you’re more likely to find the right solution.  Here’s some tips on what to do when a friend of family member isn’t feeling their self.

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They’ll be days when your friend or family member is their normal self, seemingly carefree and the life and soul of the party, then the next they could be physically unable to get out of bed and be extremely introverted and emotional. There is no set behaviour for dealing with mental health issues, so don’t try to look out for the stereotype of someone who is constantly quiet and moody.  Some people like to act like everything is fine, whereas this is impossible for others. My own personal experiences are a prime example of this. In my earlier bouts of depression I’d prefer to carry on like normal. It would seem like nothing was wrong. I’d make jokes, join in with everyone and appear seemingly upbeat. It was only when I was alone at night that the true misery would seep out in the form of tears on the pillow. This is still a tactic I use today, especially when I’m home for the holidays, as I don’t want to burden anyone so commonly cry myself to sleep if I’m not feeling great. It was only recently,after dealing with crippling grief, that I accepted defeat some days and stayed in bed.

What I’m trying to say is let them ride it out, however bumpy that ride may be. Try not to take it personally when they suddenly snap or don’t turn up to an event they promised they’d come through. I assure you it isn’t personal. Depression and anxiety are like the shittiest form of metamorphosis ever. No pretty butterflies here. You can feel your mind changing, your mood is out of sync, your reactions don’t make sense and you feel totally out of control of your own body; like you’ve been given the keys to a car you’ve never driven before and are expected to drive it. They will eventually come to terms with it, but you’ll just have to accept that there’ll be times when being “normal” is just impossible.

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When you’re feeling low, it’s easy to convince yourself you’re not worth bothering about. A simple gesture, such as a text or a phone call, or an invite for coffee can be enough to make that person feel loved and temporarily boost their mood. Feeling connected and cared for boosts self worth and will lesson suicidal feelings. Make an effort to check in with them regularly, even if your invites are rejected, persist. Sometimes people push the people they love away because they feel they don’t deserve them. Persisting will show them you truly are there and care.

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One of the main problems when you’re suffering from mental health issues is that you don’t feel normal. You become increasingly introspective and are convinced that everyone around you is having a grand old time, while your life becomes a living nightmare. Like I said above our natural reaction is to help people out and find the solution to their problem, so it’s totally normal to want to suggest a solution when our loved ones are having a rough time. The problem is that here the pragmatic approach doesn’t really help. Trying to find a “quick fix” solution or sugar coat the situation makes those suffering from mental health feel a bit fobbed out, as if you want to skip over their problems. They don’t necessarily want help but an understanding and support. Think of it this way. If someone was depressed after losing a loved one you wouldn’t suggest creating an action plan to get over grief or say “it will be all right in the end.” You’d apologise for their loss, and let them know that you’re there for them. You have to act the same way with mental health. I find if I can’t find anything to say I just say “Oh sweetie. That’s shit. I’m so sorry.” They will appreciate your honesty. I then give them a huge hug and make them a brew if a kettle is in close vicinity.

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Brits bloody love apologising. We suffer from apology tourettes. It’s an involuntary impulse like sneezing or clapping at that bit in the “friends” theme tune. The problem is that whenever we show emotion, rant or open up about what’s bothering us we feel the need to apologize. “Sorry, I don’t mean to bother you with this.” “Sorry, I hate crying around people.” “I don’t mean to bring the mood down.” Sound familiar?  When we say things like this it’s because of the whole stigma surrounding mental health. We feel it’s bad social behaviour to show our vulnerable side. But it’s not. We have a rule in our student house to never apologise for feeling low or showing emotion. When my flatmates apologise for “bothering me” with their emotional stuff, I never acccept it. Instead I say “there is no need to apologise sweetie. It’s perfectly fine to act this way.” And then make them a brew. You’ll see that tea making features heavily.

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Everyone is different. Some people, like me, love a good rant and venting is as essential as something like breathing. Ok maybe not that vital, but it’s important to help them cope. Others can’t put their feelings into words and would rather act like nothing is going on. This is merely another way of coming to terms with things. Both are natural, so make it clear, that you’re there if they want to talk about it, but also if they don’t.

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There may be times when you have to adapt your plans with them, as their mood has suddenly turned or simple things like getting out of the house have become too much. My friends are fabulous at this when I’m not myself and let me dictate where we meet, whether it’s in public or at my or a friend’s house. When I became increasingly agoraphobic before Christmas they came over to me so I didn’t have to stress about leaving the house. Showing that you want to hang out whatever their conditions will have an enormous impact on their self esteem.

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There will be times when you hear nothing for days or weeks. It’s normal. We all need space. Sometimes a non-commitive text saying you’re thinking of them and are there should they need you is enough to make them feel better. You may not get a reply, but they will get your gesture and appreciate it.

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Told you. Small, simple gestures can have a huge impact. When I heard the news that my granddad had passed my house mate’s reaction was to make me sweet hot tea for the shock. I appreciated it so much and I don’t normally drink normal tea! Sometimes the smallest acts of self care when you can’t look after yourself mean so much.

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Some people want to seek help from counselling or other services, some want to battle it on their own. If your loved one wants help, make it clear that you’ll help them get it if they want it, but don’t bombard them and keep asking if they’ve got it yet. It will make them feel like there is something seriously wrong with them, and may feel overwhelmed. A lot of people prefer to just go do it on their own. When I first got counselling in college I didn’t dare tell a soul, as I was so scared what people would think of me (again society’s  view on  mental health). Everyone’s different.

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Mental health issues are tough for the sufferer and everyone close. They’re a battle that is a marathon rather than a sprint. They’ll be setbacks, inconsistency and a lot of days when you don’t know what to do any more. They’ll be times when you feel it’s a personal attack on you ( it’s not I promise), but if you make it clear that whatever they throw at you you’ll be there, they’ll eventually pull through.

 

 

What advice would you give someone helping someone with mental health? If you know someone suffering what would you like to tell them? Comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic or feel free to drop me a message on twitter or Facebook.

Until next time lovelies

Stella

xxx