For those cases when even the simplest things feel impossible, try this

The good and bad days of mental health are something that many of us will go through at some point in our lives and, usually, we have strategies in place to continue our daily routine. But when things get really bad, those usual strategies can feel unattainable and the thought of doing something can feel overwhelming.

When this happens, show yourself compassion and try these four basic steps to take care of yourself.

1. Take a break from work

In the UK, there is no legal difference between taking a sick day for a mental health problem and taking a day off for a physical problem – and the process of organizing a mental health day is the same; you just have to follow the usual sick day policy in your workplace.

Legally, you do not have to tell your workplace why you are ill and the doctor’s note will usually not contain any sensitive information. However, if you are happy to talk to the manager or HR about what you are going through, it can help them understand how they can better support you when you get back to work.

2. Basic hygiene

Leaving personal hygiene aside is a very common side effect of mental illnesses like depression, PTSD and sensory processing disorders. Even among those without a specific condition, habits and routines that may normally be of a secondary nature may slip through the list of priorities.

Of course, feeling better is never as simple as taking a shower and leaving everything – but taking care of yourself on the outside can make a difference in how you feel on the inside. Think about all the things you would normally do when you feel better (e.g. showering, applying deodorant, brushing your face, brushing your teeth). If this feels overwhelming, or if the thought of doing all of this drives you away at all, try to do just one thing and see how you will get from there.

3. Stay hydrated

When we are dehydrated, our bodies start to shut down – and when you consider how mental health problems are caused by brain activity and dehydration causes our brain functions to slow down, it is easy to see how the two relate.

The best way to create habits is to remove all obstacles to reach them, so try to make sure you have a bottle of water near you from which you can take sips throughout the day. Alternatively, suck ice cubes, drink some fruit juice or herbal or green tea, or place regular reminders on your phone to pour yourself a glass of water if you are prone to forget.

4. Get some fresh air

‘Clean air and exercise’ is a common recommendation for good physical health, and mental health is the same. Numerous studies have linked the passage of time in nature to an improvement in well-being, and breathing oxygen-rich air will invariably support the functioning of our brain.

Of course, on really bad days, when energy is a limited resource, launching for a 5K increase is probably not realistic. But if you can get out, take a step back. If not, ventilating your home by opening a few windows can help you get some fresh air inside, or even just going outside for a few minutes and practicing deep, slow breathing can help a little.

5. Contact your support system

If you’re already working with a mental health professional, now is the time to let them know you’re struggling – they may be able to offer you an extra session or point you in the right direction. have more help.

If you are not yet at that stage, try contacting someone you trust. Remember, you can go into as much or as little detail with which you feel comfortable. Even a text that says: ‘I’m having a hard time today, can we talk?’ can lead you on the right path.

Another option is to contact the numerous free support lines that are available to you. You can call Samaritans on 116 123. Many services also offer live chat, email contacts and text lines if you are more comfortable speaking this way. Visit for more details on where you can get help.

If you are in crisis and concerned about your safety, call 999 or go to A&E

If you are struggling with your mental health, visit the counseling center for more information or talk to a qualified counselor.

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