Hello and welcome back to the blog my friends :)
Today I wanted to touch on the topic of mental health and fluctuating emotions, and how we can maybe flip the script on a bad day. I had a bad day today, and as I was working to get out of my bad mood, I thought-- why not share my experience with all of you and turn this into a writing exercise!
If you are suffering from severe anxiety or depression, small bits of advice from this post will probably not be enough support. I encourage you to seek help in your friends and family, talk to a therapist, and focus on your physical health and spiritual life. This post is more for those days when we're just feeling "off," or for the times in our lives when we are going through a difficult season, and we need all the extra joy we can get. The fact is that all of us go through hard seasons, and if you are currently dealing with that, I hope you know you are not alone, and most importantly, we can always try to change our mindset in life, no matter what we're going through.
Let's dive in!
So I struggle with something called Sleep Maintenance Insomnia.
It's a condition where you fall asleep just fine, but about three to four hours into your sleep, you wake up for seemingly no reason and struggle to fall back asleep for hours, tossing and turning, your mind and heart racing as you fight to get comfortable in the too hot or too cold sheets, most of the time not falling back asleep at all.
I've had this problem for most of my life, for almost as long as I can remember, but it has gotten even worse since pregnancy and postpartum. The hormone fluctuations, weird routines, and general anxiety of being a mother have all compounded into days and days of only working off of 4 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation always makes me feel nauseous the next day, my muscles aching and my brain flooded with dark thoughts, melancholia, and anxious overwhelm. It's frustrating because I don't even feel like I'm awake for a good reason--my kids sleep through the night, and I'm literally just wasting time, laying in bed staring at the back of my eyelids, waiting for my body to relax.
It's awful. And it happened again this morning. I've been spending all day trying to overcome nausea, stress, and grief that seem to flood my soul when this happens. I've felt "off" all day, even though my kids were a delight, the sun was shining, and it was a t-shirt day in November! I had no reason to feel terrible, but I couldn't shake the feeling of foreboding like something was seriously wrong. It really reminded me of a dark time in college when I went through a period of serious grief, struggling with depression and severe anxiety. It was so bad that I was crying constantly, barely able to function, and completely weighed down with sadness at all times.
I really felt like I was drowning in my life, and I didn't know how to cope. All I could do was exercise, pray, attend therapy, and hope that things would get better, but I still felt a general hopelessness and an unshakable sadness following me wherever I went. It was during this time when I first made a "Mood Boost Box."
I found a pretty little box and I filled it with little slips of paper, each one listing out a different "Mood Booster" on it. I decided to write things down that would switch up my routine, give me a different task, or just help me get going on something other than being sad. I settled on a few different categories: physical, environmental, relational, spiritual, emotional, and mental.
So on days when I needed help with my melancholy or anxiety, I would take something out of the box and do it right then and there. I wouldn't do more than one or two at a time, but I really found it to be so helpful to shake me out of my grief and stress. It was surprising to realize the positive effect that cleaning out a drawer or texting a friend could have on stopping a spiral. The box would help shift my focus from the things in my life that were outside my control, and instead help me focus on building productivity, creativity, or beauty in my life. That's actually why I'm writing this blog right now: I pulled something out of the box, and it happened to be-- spend time writing!
I hope you enjoy and feel inspired to maybe try some of these ideas out for yourself.
This category refers to the body, ideas for how you can pamper yourself and maybe boost your mood a little!
Long walk outside
YouTube pilates workout (20 minutes)
Warm tea or coffee
Warm toast or biscuit with butter (always helps in my opinion LOL)
Hot bath or shower
Full body hygiene: shave, conditioner, body lotion, etc.
Face masks and skincare routine with a candle on
Brush and floss your teeth (tends to shake up your headspace)
Curl your hair for fun or do a cute braid
Practice your makeup skills
Do a stretching routine with a spa soundtrack on in the background
Book a massage or a facial
Book a haircut!
Sit outside in the sun <3
Go find a body of water and listen to the waves--this has a scientific calming affect on our brains
Take a nap or go to sleep early!
Do your nails with a show on in the background
Soak and scrub your feet
Go for a bike ride or a jog
This category is about things in our sphere that are our responsibility: organizing our home, doing our chores, or making things look nice!
Put the dishes away in the kitchen
Take out trash
Purge a drawer or cupboard in your house
Make a Pinterest board with some home-decorating ideas you want to do
Switch up something in your room/home (rearrange furniture, swap out your sheets, etc.)
Clean out your email inbox!
Clean out your car
Vacuum your living room
Wipe down the surfaces in your home with a damp cloth to DUST!
Order something cute from Etsy for your home
Spend time in the garden
Clean out your fridge or pantry from old food
Rake leaves or weed the flowerbeds!
Color code your closet
Fold your underwear drawer
Clean out under your bed or your closet
Iron your clothes
I honestly think anything in this category will help snap you out of a mood, or at least give you the strength to make it to the end of the day, so I absolutely recommend choosing from this category first!
PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY (probably the most effective one if I'm honest)
Read some Scripture, especially the Psalms
Listen to a sermon
Go out into nature and experience God's creation
Watch content or read content from other Christians (this can be encouraging)
Do something kind for another person
Sign up for a volunteer opportunity (when I'm down, I always find it really uplifting to be part of a ministry where I can be part of something bigger than myself)
Write down a long list of everything you are grateful for and thank God for each one!
Write down a list of the things that are bothering you and pray about each one
Sing worship music
Talk to God out loud while taking a walk
Memorize a Bible verse
Watch American Gospel
Watch Youtube Testimonies
Sometimes looking for support in our friends and family, or even doing sweet things for others can bring us immediate joy!
Text a BFF some sort of inside joke or sweet message
Call your mom or an auntie or someone who makes you feel good
Interact with your online friends: respond to their stories, comment on their posts, etc.
Call or text your man: spend time with him, even if it's just cuddling
Get a hug from someone ASAP
Hold hands with your man
Hug or cuddle a pet (Harley is basically my emotional support pet LOL)
Contact a mentor or an older woman from church who can be a shoulder to lean on
Talk to a therapist or make arrangements for therapy or counseling
Write in a journal some things you are grateful for in your relationships
Listen to podcasts (sometimes it can feel like you're with a group of friends)
Try to get together with a friend ASAP
Compliment a stranger while you're out and about
Smile at someone
Facetime a friend or sister or cousin
Babysit for someone
Make cookies for a friend
Buy some presents for your relatives or friends and wrap them cute
Do something nice for your neighbor, like raking their leaves
Write a love note to your man
Participate in an online forum about a topic you're interested in
This category is all about how you can boost your mood by manipulating your emotions-- trying to find the comedy in life or maybe distracting yourself with a task or a game.
Mood-boosting music party right now: no sad stuff!!!
Find some funny memes or Tik Toks that always make you laugh (I always have a save file on my social media where I keep these things when I need them)
Watch a comedy special
Listen to a comedy podcast or something satirical
Read a fictional book and enter a different world (avoid your own world for a bit in the process)
Be silly in your room by yourself for a second-- literally, shake off the melancholy
Let yourself cry!! Or scream!! Or do whatever you need to do-- but only for a moment before you move forward
Let yourself mentally unwind by watching a show or movie
Do a sudoku puzzle or any sort of puzzle!
Play an online game or video game
Write fiction or a blog post
Make cute Pinterest boards for your different interests
Spend time on a hobby you really enjoy-- like baking or sewing!
Put on an adorable outfit and get out of the house
Watch a comfort show or movie: something that will absolutely be warm to your soul
Put on an ambiance cafe rainy jazz youtube video in the background
Do a craft
I could add so much more to this list, but I'll stop here for now! I hope you have a lovely rest of your day my friend, and remember: you're not alone.