Emotions can be volatile, and some days are more difficult to endure than others. You may find that your mental health fluctuates over time, which is normal. However, this understanding doesn’t always make the more challenging days any easier to bear. Even so, having a bad mental health day is a common experience, and there are ways you can make them more bearable. By practicing practical self-care, you will be able to find the most effective ways for you to cope with bad mental health days.
Prioritize Your Physical Health
While you may be inclined to consider your mental and physical health to be separate, they often impact one another. Due to this relationship, taking care of your physical wellness can be an effective way to improve your mental health on difficult days.
What this looks like for you may depend on several factors, including the time of year, your mobility and activity levels, and your personal preferences. Generally speaking, some good practices to improve your physical wellness (and support your mental health as a result) include:
- Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Doing some light exercise to boost your mood and get endorphins flowing
- Eating meals or snacks even when you lose your appetite to keep your strength up
- Sitting outside to get fresh air and sunlight to help ground you through nature
- Getting enough rest but resisting the impulse to stay in bed all day to support your body and avoid lethargy
Practice Gratitude and Acceptance
When you have a bad mental health day, you may not feel very grateful, but research shows that practicing gratitude regularly may have an impact on positive emotions. In a 2010 article published in Psychiatry (Edgmont), Randi and Lori Sansone conclude that a majority of findings agree on a relationship between appreciating what one has and a strong sense of personal well-being. In other words, gratitude exercises tend to contribute to improved wellness.
Similarly, practicing gratitude is a popular coping skill for individuals dealing with stress and other negative emotions. As described in an article published in the monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, practicing daily gratitude for small delights can bolster an individual’s mental strength, boost their mood, and empower them to tackle the challenges they may face. Acknowledging and appreciating the positive things in your life, even when you are struggling, can remind you of the good in the world and help you cope with bad mental health days when they come.
In addition to gratitude, practicing acceptance can also keep you grounded and sane during difficult days. As a form of mindfulness, accepting your mental state, acknowledging the challenges you’re facing, and recognizing the factors you can or can’t change will give you a more productive perspective on your mental health.
In some cases, distraction can be detrimental because it can prevent you from actually facing your obstacles, but if you feel overwhelmed, making time to enjoy yourself can be more productive than being immobilized by negative emotions. Some healthy forms of distraction may include:
- Watching an episode of your favorite TV show
- Listening to music that makes you happy
- Playing a relaxing video game
- Chatting with friends or making plans to see them soon
- Drawing, painting, writing, or engaging in a different kind of creative activity
- Going for a walk and leaving your phone at home
How you choose to distract yourself will depend on what you enjoy and find relaxing, exciting, or uplifting.
Give Yourself Appropriate Outlets
Many of us often feel inclined to bottle up our feelings for many reasons, but this practice can be harmful over time. Allowing yourself to feel your emotions and express them in healthy, productive ways can help you become more attuned to your mental health. This practice can also reduce the severity of future mental health difficulties and improve your emotional intelligence.
There are plenty of ways you can productively express your feelings. For example, you may take up journaling. Writing down your thoughts without reservation or fear of judgment can help you better understand what you are feeling and the root causes behind these emotions. Providing clarity to your emotional state can encourage you to view your situation more objectively and logically, making your bad mental health day easier to manage.
You may also turn to a trustworthy friend or family member and confide in them. Receiving support from your loved ones, even if they don’t have solutions or similar experiences, can make you feel significantly better, allowing yourself to express your thoughts in a safe environment can also prevent you from feeling isolated and alone.
When you are having a bad mental health day, you may feel the urge to cry. In many cases, allowing yourself to cry or express your emotions in whatever way feels natural, provided this expression does not cause harm to yourself or others, can help you release tension and stress. You may find that crying is cathartic, providing a satisfying outlet for your emotions, especially if you have been carrying heavy feelings for a while.
Mental health can be difficult to handle, especially when you feel discouraged, depressed, anxious, or otherwise incapacitated by your emotions. Many of us experience bad mental health days at times, and these experiences are nothing to be ashamed of. Still, coping with bad mental health days can be challenging, and learning how to make the most of them and improve your wellness while enduring them can help you cope and recover more effectively. At Sober Life, we understand that dealing with bad mental health days can be hard, especially if you are trying to handle these days on your own. By prioritizing your physical health, practicing gratitude, and granting yourself suitable outlets for emotional expression, you can help yourself overcome your worst days and improve your mental wellness in the long term. If you are struggling with your mental health and want to receive additional guidance, give us a call at (619) 542-9542.