I’m gonna be honest — I’ve been having some rough days recently.
And I wish I could say why, but the truth is, I’ve just felt off. Caught up in my own head.
Sometimes very, very down.
Over the years I’ve learned this can hit me when new things are happening and I’m feeling overwhelmed.
For example, I’m moving to a new home in a few days. I’m also planning a wedding, which is super exciting, but there’s a lot to think about.
I’m also dealing with fluctuations in the effectiveness of my ADHD medication that is frustrating when it comes to my work (maybe I’ll elaborate on that more in another post).
I’m sharing this because I’ve learned in times like this, the meaning of self-care is a little different.
When my mind is bringing me down, simple act of just pausing to recognize how I feel… can be one of my biggest forms of self-care.
Self-Care When You’re Overwhelmed: Get Back to Basics
Self-care is often glamorized or put on a pedestal as all sunshine and rainbows. It’s portrayed as fun daily things that will immediately boost your mood and make you happy!
But that’s not (always) real life.
I’m on fire for trendy self-care when I’m already feeling good.
But when my mind is overwhelmed or I’m feeling depressed or anxious… stuff like journalling, or 20 minutes of meditation, or trying to make huge, colorful salads actually add to my stress instead of making me feel better.
When life is overwhelming, self-care cannot be long bubble baths or having a picture-perfect workspace for me.
During these times, self-care is basic acts like:
- Remembering to eat.
- Taking a shower.
- Drinking some water.
- Asking for a hug.
- Deleting social media apps from my phone so I stop comparing my life to everyone else’s.
- Saying something nice to myself.
- Letting myself sit and cry.
When things are really overwhelming, I’ve found basic, simple, even mini acts of self-care are the place to start.
Here’s what has helped me:
Letting myself actually feel down.
It doesn’t make sense to feel bad about feeling bad, right? But sometimes I do. I feel guilty for having a bad day when, from the outside, I should be doing a-okay.
A lot of my problems stem from things happening all in my mind… but that doesn’t mean my problems aren’t real. It doesn’t mean I can’t feel like garbage or express that I’m not okay or cry and not really know why yet.
It’s always okay to acknowledge when you’re not okay. Obviously the goal is to feel better, but to take those steps to be in that better place, I have to recognize it’s okay to feel whatever I’m feeling.
Making basic needs easier.
Being under-fed or dehydrated can make a big difference for me, and food makes me happy, so if I’m feeling down, I’ll drink some water and have something easy to eat.
Sometimes that means ordering a meal to-go from one of our favorite places. Other times, it’s making instant rice and beans at home. Either way, I give myself something that doesn’t take much time or effort but that provides my body with nutrition.
I also try to give myself grace when it comes to productivity and work. I’ll try not to push myself as hard or shorten my to-do list if time and money allow. And that always means focusing on one thing at a time.
Moving my body.
Exercise is the last thing I feel like doing when I’m having a rough day emotionally, but I also know myself. I know a little moderate or light workout always helps me feel better afterwards, so I put on some Friends and did a home workout for no more than 30 minutes. 🙂
Other days, that’s replaced with some walking around my neighborhood while listening to music or a podcast.
This one is really hard for me, I’ll admit. I drafted about a thousand (okay, more like 3-4) texts or social media posts yesterday expressing that I felt bad, but I finally only sent one tweet. Because I felt like I’d be bothering people or seem whiny or needy.
But after that tweet, two sweet friends replied checking in on me. And almost instantly, I felt a little less alone. Just a simple act of connecting with others who cared meant the world to me.
It’s hard to ask for help, but it reminded me there are always people who can and will—even when it doesn’t feel like it. (And sometimes people don’t react how you’d like, but it’s NO reflection on you or your value. As humans, it’s natural to be focused on our own needs first, but good people do care, and reaching out is always good.)
I’m also planning to look into therapy next month. I’ve needed to work with a therapist for a long time now, but I keep putting it off due to cost and telling myself I’m not doing “bad” enough to need it. Of course, that’s a skewed perspective that I’m working on. 🙂
Plus, as the now co-host of a mental health podcast, it’s only responsible for me to seek the help I need—and a think it will help me a lot 🙂 (And I’ll for sure talk about how it goes, so stay tuned!)
Basically, if you’re ever feeling so overwhelmed or struggling with your mental health that even the standard self-care advice seems like too much, get back to basics. Think about your core needs. Don’t worry about how it looks or whether it’s Instagram worthy.