“Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.”Roy T. Bennett
I’m not that great at self care. I mean that in the most basic sense. You see a lot of self care articles about painting your nails and taking long, luxurious baths. For people with ADHD and mental illness, self care looks a lot different. For many of us, it is a struggle just to manage a quick shower or to brush our hair and teeth.
People with ADHD literally forget to take care of ourselves. Hyperfocus is a powerful thing and we often don’t notice even the most basic of needs. It isn’t odd for us to forget to eat or to not realize and remedy that we are thirsty. We might hold it when we need to use the bathroom because it hasn’t registered to our brains that we have to go; whatever is holding our attention is more powerful.
Depression, anxiety, and many other disorders make basic self care seem impossible. Some days, just existing seems like an impossible feat…and I’m still supposed to worry about washing my hair and cooking three meals a day? It seems impossible.
Self Care Ideas for Bad Mental Health Days
I decided to come up with a list of self-care ideas for the days when executive dysfunction get the best of you. Also, there might be a frill or two because everyone deserves frills in their life, but these are mostly basic ideas for low mental energy day.
- Take a hot shower. I know this is something that a lot of us have an issue with, but can’t talk about because of shame. I hate getting in the shower but, once I’m there, I never want to get out. Not only is is relaxing and peaceful (full ADHD household, here), but I feel so much better afterward.
- Get dressed! Ok, so some of us may not have this problem. I, however, live in my pajamas. I rarely leave the house, so I rarely put on real clothes. As part of my new daily routine, I want to start getting dressed every day. It will make me feel more alert and not in “relax” mode all the time. Also, I won’t be embarrassed to be seen with no bra on while I’m walking the dogs.
- Brush your teeth and your hair. Brushing your teeth will leave you feeling refreshed and no one ever suffered from a good hair brushing.
- Journal. Admittedly, journaling is not for everyone. That said, it is a life saver for me, especially on bad days. Just get out a notebook and empty all the pain and anxiety onto the page. Stream of consciousness journaling can help you come to realizations about your feelings and issues. It helps me a lot to figure out how I’m feeling at certain things. Sometimes I surprise myself with the things that I come to realize.
- Take a break from social media. Social media can be a wonderful place, but it can also be a terrible place. It’s good for us to unplug and take a break for a while. It will still be there when we return.
- Cuddle with your pets. If you don’t have a pet, borrow someone else’s pet! But get your hands on a fluffy friend and the dopamine reward will be great.
- Spend time with a child in your life. Get in the floor and play. Use your imagination. Get on their level. There is no love like the love of a child and no more fun than when you’re allowing yourself to be free to enjoy the small things in life.
- Get out in nature. Now look…there is nothing that I hate more than when I am depressed and someone tells me to take a walk. I know that walking will not cure my depression and the actual effort to get up and take a walk can feel Herculean on a hard day. That said, when I am feeling well and healthy, I can admit that being out in nature actually does make me feel a little better. I like to go on hikes and work on grounding techniques while I’m there. There’s nothing like having your hands full of earth to bring your to the present.
- Take a nap. This is especially helpful to me when I am having anxiety. If I have a small nap, it’s almost like my brain “resets” itself and I almost always feel better when I wake up. We push ourselves too hard and resting is important. Allow yourself to shut down for a nice nap every now and then.
- Do a guided meditation. Concentration issues can be a problem with almost all brain disorders and I know that meditating can be extremely difficult for many, including myself. That said, I have found success with some guided meditations and my life and stress felt more manageable when I was doing it on a regular basis. Try it out…it’s worth the effort.
- Put on a moisturizer. I wish someone had given me this advice when I was younger. I know it’s an extra step, but make sure that you moisturize your face and body. Your skin will thank you later.
- Hydrate. Seriously. Drink the water.
- Call a friend or family member. Not only is it good to stay in touch with your support system during your rough times, but it will also get your mind off of things for a while. When I’m having a panic attack, I call my mom or my aunt and it almost immediately calms me down.
- Cut your nails. Especially your toenails. And clean any dirt out from under them.
- Allow yourself to daydream. Find a quite place to just sit and let your mind wander. I used to do this a lot when I was younger and I was always happier afterwards. I knew myself well then. Daydreaming is a healthy coping mechanism and allows you to create and spend time in scenarios where you are safe and cannot be hurt.
- Create something. Bake a cake. Color a picture. Paint. Crochet. Whatever skills you have, use them to create something. It doesn’t have to be beautiful or even useful, but let your creative self shine through. The outlet is important.
- Treat yourself to a haircut. I never feel better than directly after a fresh haircut. That said, I *never* make the time to go to the salon and get my haircut. I’ve even gotten to the point where I cut my own bangs, just so I don’t have to go. It’s good to treat yourself every now and then and let the pros do the heavy lifting…and by heavy lifting, I mean fixing my hair because I’ve been cutting it myself for a year.
- Read a book. Get lost in a story. It will help, I promise.
- Eat a healthy meal. It can be easy to forget or to feel too tired or too busy or too depressed, but you have to eat. Order in if you have to, but eat something that is good for your body.
- Practice breathing exercises. Focusing on your breathing can help to control anxiety and to get your mind off of your thoughts. Breathing is also important in meditation.
I hope that these self care ideas help the next time you’re having a rough day. I’m going to try to keep it in mind for myself too. That’s it for this short little post! Have a wonderful Sunday and an even better week! Be sure to subscribe by email so you never miss a post! Also, follow me on Twitter or join our private Facebook group The Winter Of My Discontent: ADHD and Mental Illness Community.
Writing about living with ADHD and mental illness and my journey down a thriving path forward. Breaking stigmas and creating community, one post at a time.