When you finally get the courage to seek help for mental health issues, one of the first things you will learn is that there is hardly ever a cure for mental. A huge milestone is when you realise that there is no such thing as getting better. Struggling with your mental health is not synonymous with being broken, so it is important to move away from the idea that you can be fixed. Instead, accepting that you will have bad days, weeks or even months throughout your life, is a breakthrough in itself.
With this in mind, it can be beneficial to plan for these tougher times. To prepare for the difficult days so that you can deal with them as best you can. Here are some things to think about when planning for a tough mental health day:
Write it down
Write your ‘bad day plan’ on a Word Doc on your laptop or in a notepad that you won’t lose. Leave it in a place you will remember that is easily accessible. You don’t want to have to search for this when you are not feeling well.
This could simply be a step by step guide on how to get through the day. Shower, eat (something comforting) and get dressed. It might be helpful to save a draft text or email to send to work etc. Include a list of movies and music you can watch/listen to that might make you feel better.
Let someone in on the plan
Your partner, your best friend, your sister, or brother. Ask them to be the person you confide in when you are having a bad mental health day/week. There is no shame in this, asking for help is essential. You will need support and it is a comfort to know that there is already someone familiar with your needs who has agreed to help.
Know your limits
Become familiar with how to take days off work, college, school etc. Know what sick days you are entitled to and know the process you need to follow to get a day off. If your mental health is affecting your work, tell your employer and ask them for the company’s policies on sick leave in this case.
Have a backup plan if you have family commitments. When you feel things getting worse, cancel plans. Be honest with friends and family about how you are feeling. Do not push yourself when you are feeling low, anxious or confused. This can make things worse and lead to a spiral.
Go easy on yourself
Allow yourself to take time off. Do not expect to be productive on a bad mental health day. Getting through the day might be all you can do and this is enough. If you have certain basic ways of making yourself feel better, plan these. You could even make up a pack of resources like candles, a hot water bottle, certain foods that comfort you and leave them together with the plan you have written down.
Plan for your physical health, too
Mental and physical health go hand in hand. Try to stay away from alcohol when you begin to feel low or anxious. Make an extra effort to eat well if you can – but don’t deny yourself comfort food when you are having a bad mental health day. Try to stick to your exercise routine as best you can or even make sure to go outside when you feel things begin to get worse.
When a bad mental health day becomes unmanageable or when you feel out of control, call you GP or mental health professional.