My top tips for improving a bad mental health day!

Last week I wasn't doing so well mentally. I felt anxious. I had fluttery sensations in my stomach and I felt as if my negative thoughts were a collection of treacle that I found myself stuck in and incapable of getting out of. I felt like crying a lot because I was so stressed (hello, exams, anxiety and life in general). I felt as if all life's responsibilities and expectations were a tsunami threatening to drown me and I felt like I'd never feel calm again. The adrenaline was burning through me, my head was pounding and I felt terrible, to put it plainly. I was sat in front of my textbooks, the formulas blurring in front of my eyes, the pressure to get good grades and to keep working, working, working until I was getting the marks I needed throwing themselves against my temples. I knew I needed to get out of this anxiety-riddled mindset and I did (even though it seemed impossible at the time!) by doing these several things. I thought I'd share because maybe you're feeling depressed or anxious and as if everything is caving in and you need some tips on how to get you through the day.

  1. Walk away. Take a deep breath.
    If you're sitting in front of your laptop/your textbooks/your assignments and it's beginning to feel like quicksand, get up. I know you have deadlines and pressure, but staring at your books feeling stressed isn't productive and it isn't helpful. Get up. Go for a walk. Forget about school and work for a moment. When I was feeling stressed I got up. I took a deep breath. I packed away my school books (out of sight, out of mind) and I went outside. I played with my dog. I sat on the grass. It helped.
  1. Mindfulness
    I use two incredible mindfulness/meditation apps (Headspace and Calm). Sometimes it's hard to not get caught up in all the thoughts and feelings but the apps teach wonderful techniques to accept one's thoughts and feelings. I applied these techniques when I got up from my desk and the dense pile of maths revisions. I noticed the intense blue of the sky, the rustling of the wind, the warmth of my dog's body next to mine. I noticed all the feelings in my body, all the thoughts running through my head. I took several deep breaths and I chose to simply exist in that moment. It's hard, sometimes, to meditate but it really helps!
  1. #Treatyoself
    I live pretty close to town, luckily, and when I wasn't feeling so great we hopped on the bus and we ambled through town for a couple of hours. I had a hot chocolate and I had carrot cake. We don't normally have cake when we go out and it was such a lovely treat and it definitely made me feel better! Cake (or chocolate) always seems to be the key, doesn't it?
  1. Reread your favourite book
    You may have seen my previous post about Bone Gap (aka my new favourite book ever), you can probably tell I loved it. When I was feeling anxious and sad I felt like rereading Bone Gap. I missed the characters so much and I knew being with them again was going to make me happier. There was a pretty loud voice in my head yelling at me to not reread the book because LOOK AT THAT TBR PILE BOOKCASE. IT'S NOT GOING TO GET READ BY YOU REREADING YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKS OVER AND OVER. You know what I did? I muted the voice and I reread Bone Gap. Whilst my mom was getting her haircut I drank my hot chocolate, I listened to my favourite Taylor Swift album and I reread Bone Gap and it was a wonderful, wonderful moment.
  1. Buy a book, borrow a book, books
    I happened to be at the library (shocker) and there were 3 books that looked amazing and I really wanted to read them. Logically I knew I shouldn't because, ahem, TBR bookcase and I felt kind of sad when I saw them sitting there because I really wanted to read them and I was like “Ah, I really shouldn't...” but I took them out and it made me feel so much better and so excited because INTRIGUING BOOKS! YAS!
  1. Listen to upbeat, happy music
    When I feel anxious I often feel sad because I feel anxious and then I tend to drift to melancholic songs but DON'T DO THAT. Listen to upbeat, happy songs it will eventually make you feel super happy and if you're like me, you'll want to start dancing asap.
  1. EXERCISE, specifically cardio
    Let me just put it out there that I hate cardio. In the past it has always triggered panic attacks because my anxiety disorder all started when I fainted at school due to running. It doesn't help that exercising feels like a panic attack – the racing heart, sweaty palms and increased breathing – but lately I've been trying to incorporate more cardio into my lifestyle and it's really helping! When I felt so bad I started doing some jumping jacks and high knees and I started hysterically laughing (gotta love those endorphins). Even if you're like me and you hate cardio, it helps! It really does! Checkout the Youtube channels Blogilates, Xhit, Rebecca Louise and Fitness Blender (I especially like FB's 11 minute cardio workout, it's great!) – they're brilliant!
  1. Hang out with friends
    A lot of the time I feel stuck in my own head, if that makes sense? I'm so focused on my worries and how horrible I'm feeling (I really need to make an effort with this whole mindfulness thing) but when I'm with friends they never fail to cheer me up. Being with friends and people you love, people who support you and love you and make you feel good about yourself is so important!
  1. Watch a funny movie/Youtube videos
    There are so many hilarious movies/Youtube videos out there that you'll definitely find something that will – if not make you laugh – make you smile a little bit. Another thing that always cheers me up is watching booktube videos because BOOKS.
  1. Cuddle an animal
    THEY'RE SO FLUFFY AND CUTE AND UNDERSTANDING. Maybe you don't have a pet but maybe your friend does and they'll let you hug the precious doggo?? IT ALWAYS HELPS.
  1. Pray/read your bible/listen to worship music
    I'm a Christian and whenever I'm feeling anxious/upset/frustrated it really helps me to read the Bible. It makes me realise that God is so much bigger and He has a plan for us, even if it doesn't feel like that in the moment.
  2. Nature
    I've definitely found being in nature helps my anxiety! I just find it so calming being outside with my bare feet on the grass and the sun on my back. Nature is awesome. Unless I see a spider. Then I shall continue to stay in the house until I've recovered from the incident.
  1. Draw/write/dance/paint
    Doing something creative tends to improve my mood a lot! Maybe you don't feel like it, maybe your mind is feeling foggy and dull today but paint/write/sew/knit/bake, do something creative – it will probably make you feel better! I find drawing really helps me (also: adult colouring books supposedly help for stress!) and I love to use dance as a creative outlet, too!
  1. Step away from social media
    Although I love social media, sometimes it can get a bit much. There are constantly new messages, new tweets, new pictures begging me to look at, that sometimes social media is quite stressful. Switching off your phone, getting away from it all for a couple of hours while you meditate/eat/sleep/exercise will really help, too!
  1. Change of scenery
    I know there have been times where I've been feeling awful with my anxiety and as a result I haven't wanted to leave the house but once I did, it really helped! Like, as some of you know I try to go rollerskating twice a week. I really enjoy it as the music is good, it's great seeing my friends and I always end up laughing because I'm so bad at skating it's actually hilarious but with my anxiety, despite how much I know I'll enjoy it once I'm there, I'm always filled with dread and panic just before we leave. Thankfully the past few times I haven't been filled with apprehension but most of the time I have, especially when I haven't been having a great day – but it always helps me so much actually getting out of the house. Roller skating takes my mind off of things (it's pretty much impossible to think of my anxiety when all my concentration goes on a) not falling on my backside b) not flailing my arms everywhere like a drunk windmill and c) not crashing into everybody) and even if I'm so anxious beforehand, I always walk out of the rink feeling happy and calm. So if you're having a bad day, try to leave your house, if you can. Go to the movies, go shopping, go to the beach (if you're lucky enough to live near one!), go for a hot chocolate with your friends – or even just go sit in the garden for twenty minutes. A change of scenery really helps me!
If you're struggling with your mental health, I'd highly recommend doing one of the above (or more) as it's helped me snap out of my funk numerous times. Also, if you're having a bad day, PLEASE don't hesitate to talk to me! You can email /tweet me etc, I'm always willing to listen! <3

ALSO, the incredible Inge from Of Wonderland wrote a post last week about self-care and I just loved it a lot and you should totally go check it out because it's all kinds of