Mental Wellness

What to Do on a Bad Mental Health Day: 10-Step Guide to Ease Your Depression

You know what a bad mental health day is, right?

If you’ve ever had a chance to meet depression, you know how it’s like. Some days are good, some days are okay, and some feel like an everlasting nightmare. And none of them is the same.

Even for one person bad days can be different, from an anxiety attack to suicidal thoughts to complete apathy.

There are so many symptoms of depression alone, it’s safe to say each one of us experiences it in our own way. As if we all had different minds! Who would’ve thought, huh?

And let’s not forget about all the possible combinations of depression with other mental health disorders. A person’s mind can be one heck of a cocktail.

And when it all comes down on you in one day? Or slowly crumbles bit by bit until you can’t stand it anymore? Yeah, bad days are no good for you (excuse the pun).

But there are ways to deal with them! Not ignore or fight with sheer willpower – I doubt it’s even possible – but accept and move on.

Learn something new about yourself and your life at the moment. Rest. Find peace with your mind. Get through this day – and come out even stronger than before.

I’m not a therapist and can’t help you with the disorder itself. But I’d been going through big changes lately that have been stressing me out. And stress often means anxiety. And from there everything kind of goes down on its own.

My mental health-meter is jumping up and down these days. 

But while it’s not the best feeling, at least I know that after every dip comes an up. I only need to carry myself through the lowest points.

And in this post, I decided to list everything that helps me through bad mental health days – and has a high potential to help you!

Because after all, even if our symptoms are different, the goal is the same: To get back to the good days again.

  • Acknowledge That Something’s Wrong

Ignoring a problem doesn’t solve it.

Sometimes you can feel inner walls going weaker day by day. Sometimes a perfectly normal day turns into the worst in a matter of hours (or even minutes). And sometimes you just wake up and feel: it’s gonna be a tough day.

There are many ways for depression to creep back in – but you should never ignore it.

First of all, every day teaches you something about your mind. What triggered you? Have you been stressed lately? Have you talked to a person or went to a place that brought back unwanted memories? Maybe your depression goes back and forth in cycles?

Finding the reason will help you see the whole picture more clearly.

Don’t put it away. Don’t pretend like everything’s “fine, it’s just a bad mood, I’m gonna take a nap and it’ll go away on its own”. 

Accepting your struggles makes them easier to handle.

  • Don’t Force Yourself

Now to more practical tips.

You know that you’re not in your best form. That, as expected or not, your mental health isn’t ready for the day ahead.

What should you do?

First of all, understand that you have to take it easier today. You can’t go on with the same pace and energy as any other day. Have a ton of plans? Better breathe out and leave them for later.

Of course, there are things and responsibilities you can’t (and shouldn’t) leave unattended even on a bad mental health day.

But you also can’t (and shouldn’t) expect that the same chores you did yesterday will be as easy to finish today – and it’s okay.

You wouldn’t force yourself to clean a bathroom or stay up for extra work if you had a fever, right? Same thing here. It isn’t always easy to accept, but you are sick, and you are allowed to take a day off.

  • One Thing At A Time

Do not overwhelm yourself with tasks.

Maybe you have to get work done, maybe you have classes, maybe you’re free for today and want to lay your hands on everything you’d been leaving for later.

It’s easy to slip back into a productivity mindset and keep yourself busy. It’ll distract you from negative thoughts as well, so two birds with one stone, right?

Well, no. Because there’s this one thing called anxiety that likes to keep you busy as well.

If you’ll put yourself into a strict schedule (and it can be very tempting on a bad mental health day), you’ll go straight into its embrace.

Your mind isn’t ready to keep up with multiple tasks, so instead of pushing yourself off the edge, take it easy. Accept that some things may take more time, some – more physical efforts, and some are just too difficult for today.

When you plan something, you automatically expect that you’ll be able to do it.

Don’t. Not for today.

You have no idea how much energy you’ll have in an hour, two hours, ten hours. You can’t possibly know that, so don’t plan far. Take it one thing at a time.

  • Do Something Productive

Despite all my arguments against forcing yourself, it’s still important to do something productive. It may be responding to one email, reading one chapter, cleaning one drawer.

Anything that requires a bit of effort. Anything that’ll make it easier for your tomorrow self.

Our self-esteem is directly related to the things we do, things we accomplish. That’s why being productive is so addictive – and it’s great! You only have to know where to pause.

And to help yourself, to boost your own self-esteem, you gotta do something. Accomplish something, no matter how small.

With negative thoughts raging inside your head, you need that boost more than ever.

Choose something you know you can finish and do it, again, one step at a time.

  • Praise Yourself

Done? Great! Now make sure to do something nice for yourself.

Treat yourself with hot chocolate, watch a good movie, play with your pet – whatever makes you feel better. Relax. You did great.

We have to praise ourselves whenever we finish something difficult, whenever we push ourselves out of our comfort zone and take even one step ahead. Celebrate our own growth – before going further.

Same thing here. Only on a bad day, you have to use a different scale for your achievements.

Taking a bath, eating an apple, getting out of bed. Depression makes even the smallest steps hard, so make sure to take a moment and tell yourself: “I did great”.

It’s very simple – but the peace it’ll bring is so important.

  • Do Something Enjoyable

It should be obvious from the previous point, but yes, remember to do something you enjoy. Preferably, something you don’t do that often.

Do you have hobbies? Favorite games? Self-care routine?

Whatever makes you feel good, make sure to reach for it. You need the boost of happy chemicals now more than ever.

You can also go for something new! Reading is a great tool for stress relief, so give that book on your reading list a go. Or maybe, there’s a recipe you wanted to try for a while now? 

If you feel excited at the thought, if you have enough energy, don’t hesitate – go for it. Everything that can make you smile is a remedy today.

  • Stick to Your Daily Routine

If you have a stable daily routine already, it shouldn’t be hard. 

What’s good about habits is that they don’t require mental effort. It’s easier to repeat something familiar, especially on a bad mental health day.

Things get trickier when you don’t have one. (And if that’s the case, check my post about the importance of sleep and daily routine, it’ll help you out.)

Still, even if you don’t have a schedule, you probably have a few morning habits, right? Waking up around the same time, taking a shower, eating breakfast. All the little things you repeat more or less every day.

Stay as close as possible to your usual routine. 

It can be tempting to grab more sleep than necessary – don’t, it’ll bring more harm. Drink water, exercise, spend an additional couple of moments in the shower instead. 

These are the things you’re used to – they’ll help you feel better. They’ll help you feel in control of yourself and your life.

  • Meditate

This one is obvious for those who meditate – and odd for those who don’t.

But once again I encourage you to start meditating. The sooner the better.

Meditation helps you with negative thoughts and anxiety in a way nothing else can. It teaches you how to calm down your thoughts and find your inner peace on your own.

Of course, it’s not always that easy and won’t bring immediate results, especially when depression is holding you tightly.

But it’ll give you a way to get away from it for a few minutes and just sit in peace and quiet. Sometimes, it’s more helpful than everything else put together.

  • Pay Attention to Yourself

It’d probably be easier if all the bad days were the same. We’d be able to come up with a perfect solution – and reach for it every time we need it.

But it’s impossible. And every such day is different in its own way.

That’s why you can’t predict when and why you’ll feel better – or worse. Today you may be exhausted from the simplest tasks and need naps every few hours, but next time you’ll be too stressed to even close your eyes.

It never goes the same way, so you have to watch your mind now.

If something makes you feel worse, take a break and try something else. Don’t let your thoughts run wild without control – they’ll find even darker places.

  • This Too Shall Pass

Every bad mental health day eventually ends. You should always remember that.

Depending on your depression and overall mental health state, a good day will also mean different things. But it’ll find you again nevertheless.

So don’t be afraid, don’t panic, don’t allow your mind to convince you that you won’t be able to enjoy your life.

You will.

You’ll get through this, and the reasons to love yourself and your life will be brighter than ever. Until then, stay safe and take care of yourself, okay? You gotta take care of yourself.

That’s the most important lesson you can get out of this post.

Let me know what you think – and share your own tips down below! What are your ways of dealing with bad mental health days? 

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