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Self-care - collab



The lovely Jade and I have teamed up to give you some tips for taking care of yourself when you're not feeling your best.




After you've finished reading my tips, head over to Jade's blog to see what she has to say - she has lots of great ideas sure to help you feel a little bit healthier in that old brain of yours.

I personally have suffered with anxiety and depression for a number of years; something now I finally feel confident enough to talk about and share advice about. No matter how 'recovered' you feel you are, it's easy to slip into old habits every now and then.

I find that every so often, maybe every few weeks or just the odd day, I kind of plummet back down to rock bottom and feel like I'm starting back at square one. These are momentary blips and they happen to everyone! Jade and I decided to write a post each about the things we do to try and pick ourselves back up and get back on track again.

Rest

Sleep & rest don’t always come hand in hand - sleeping well is always important, but it is all too common that with mental health problems, including depression in particular, sleep can go one of two ways: either you’re always asleep or you find that you never can.

I found that in the first year or two of me trying to cope with my depression, sleeping too much was my biggest issue. I missed a lot of my college classes; this even carried through with me to uni. I found I couldn’t even get out of bed to attend my seminars because I was too exhausted, no matter how much I slept.

I like to have a back-up list of other ways to relax when I find sleep difficult, that way I don’t feel as exhausted when I am a bit sleep deprived.

My favourite ways to relax are by reading a good book - something to escape reality; having a bubbly bath or a hot bath using one of my special Lush bath bombs; making music playlists full of happy music, as well as music that describes how I’m feeling; and also sudoku - which sounds weird, but I find that I can do about 10 sudoku puzzles and realise that I haven’t thought about any real life stuff the whole time! It’s a mindless number puzzle that really helps me just clear my head.

Hydrate

I won’t give anyone a lecture about remembering to eat properly, because I’m the first to admit that I never find time to eat well! I’m lucky if I have more than one meal a day. However, you should always find time to hydrate even if you don’t feel like eating, especially if you haven’t been sleeping well.

Water is the obvious choice for hydration but if you’re like me and hate water, or just find it boring, then find something else that’s tasty and you enjoy! 

Hot drinks may also help you feel sleepy, which can be a double whammy - there’s lots of different teas out there that might make you feel a bit more snuggly at bedtime. I got a few different ones to try when I was subscribed to BuddyBox; even if you’re not a tea person (I never was) there’s loads of different flavours to try. Coffee probably isn't recommended if you're having trouble sleeping, though!

Talk it out

I think it’s incredibly important to find a way to express your feelings. The best way is probably just to talk it out with someone, however not everyone is fortunate enough to have a super good support network of friends/family; also, if you’re anything like me, you might just find it difficult to express those emotions altogether.

There are other alternative ways to cathartically and safely release feelings. Keeping a diary or journal, doing some creative writing like poetry or short stories, singing along to music (I have a playlist specifically for this!) - there are even some anonymous messaging apps where you can just go and vent your feelings without anyone needing to know who you are. 

The ‘Vent’ app was my favourite for a while, and most people on there are really supportive. You can make a completely anonymous username and post status updates on how you are feeling. It comes up in a live feed and there are always lovely people leaving messages of support!

Childline online chat was also useful for me but this has a much more ‘professional’ feel; asking the usual counsellor-type questions. I’d keep away from this if you’d rather just jot your feelings down without being probed to talk more about them.

Write it out

Leading on from finding ways to vent, I’ve always found it very useful when I’m finding it hard to cope to find media that addresses the issues I’m facing. There is a small niche of actually well-done movies/literature that talk about depression and mental health and helped me kind of come to terms with it.

Alternatively, you could always create your own! I’m quite into creative writing - mainly short stories, and one thing I found really effective was writing about someone who was facing the same issues I was going through at the time. I always gave them a realistic, positive ending and then challenged myself to act like my own protagonist and aim for the same happy ending.

I know lots of people who find different forms of creativity to be cathartic - I was never good at poetry, but sometimes it helps to put down your feelings in a structured way, or even just free-flowing thoughts. If you’re lucky enough to be artistic, maybe create a piece of art that expresses how you’re feeling.

Health

Thinking logically about your actual health is important here - finding the roots of your feelings can help you sort through and analyse them. You must also think about what is best for your health in the long run - are your low moods regular? Have you seen a doctor about this? There may be something that is causing your mood to fluctuate so noticeably.

Do you have any medication and do you take them as prescribed? It’s important if you are prescribed antidepressants or similar to take them right through to the end of the course. I made the mistake of simply deciding not to take mine any longer, and I think the consequences were not worth it in the long run.

The effects of suddenly ceasing to take antidepressants can affect your body in negative ways. If you’re not sure you want to be on medication anymore, or feel that your current medication isn’t right for you, always talk to your doctor about it first. If you are experiencing sudden, worrying side effects, UK residents can call 111 for non-emergency advice, or of course 999 if you feel you need emergency assistance.

One thing I like to be aware of is whether I notice any particular triggers in my everyday life that significantly affect my mood. For example, I know that I personally do not take disappointment very well - if I set up plans in my head, ask that person and they say no, I can plunge into the biggest depression for absolutely hours. It’s completely irrational and I know that I need to learn to better control these emotions. However, because I know this is a personal trigger for myself, I can better prepare myself for times when disappointment may occur, or even avoid those situations altogether. 

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I hope you found some of these ideas useful, or at least food for thought if nothing else. I will include a resource list at the end of this post with some of the things I mentioned above, and some other places that you can seek help if you feel you need it.

The most important thing to remember is you are never alone and you never have to feel like you are. Take care of yourself before anyone else.

Resources

Click here to download the 'Vent' app that I mentioned - available on Apple & Android (free!)

You can find the online chat on the Childline website here - be aware, sometimes there is a bit of a queue to speak to an adviser.

If you're feeling low, worried or like you need someone to talk to, Samaritans is a great charity that is open 24/7. You can find their website here, and there is also a phone number you can ring if you'd just like to talk to a real person. They have really helped me in the past.

Click here to go to the NHS 'Moodzone' - there is lots of useful information on stress, anxiety and depression.

Last of all - never feel like you can't drop me an email, tweet, DM or Instagram message if you want someone to talk to. I am always here!

You can also find Jade over at simplyjadey.co.uk, on Twitter @jademillardx and Instagram @jademillard_

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Header image: stock image, text added by me

3 comments

  1. It was so lovely to collab with you, Alice. All of your tips were incredibly, and I'm sure that they will help not only myself, but many others, who stumble across this post as well!!

    Jade x | www.simplyjadey.co.uk

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Jade! I loved collabing with you, especially on a topic so close to my heart xx

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  2. Great tips. I really love crochet to help me relax and reading is such a huge part of my life. Tamsin xo

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