How do you practice self care on tough days? Have any self care ideas that get your through? Life has not been easy going for me lately. With 2 kids under 2, I am sleep deprived on most days. And on most of the days, I am also overwhelmed, over stimulated, touched out and just mentally stressed in general. I didn’t know how many decisions you have to make on the daily with little ones and the mental load is so real.
And the last thing that it’d want to do is self care because it doesn’t come naturally to me to prioritise self care. But as I grow up, I realise how it is so important. And even more so now, now that I am mom of 2. I know not everyone is in a similar situation as me, but looking back I have realised that I have been in similar situations in the past too. Not that I had 2 kids back then, I am referring to this mental state of being stressed. When the days feel heavy and you feel like nothing is going according to plan.
But I am finally learning some things that help me cope better. I have never been one who loves spas or mani pedi things, but here is what works for me. If you struggle with prioritising self care too, I hope you will find this blog post helpful.
Life is not always easy. We all have days when things don’t go according to plan and there are usually tough days too. And while there is so much of life that’s not in your control, so feeling overwhelmed and stressed is somewhat out of your control. But how you deal with these feelings is something that you can learn.
When life throws tough days at you, you learn to deal with them better and you develop emotional resilience as well. Not to say that you are already not strong enough or that you should stop showing emotions. It simply means that you don’t let the negative emotions or difficult days weigh you down for a long time. You know how to get yourself back to feeling better again.
And that’s where self care becomes even more important. I have had tough days where I have resorted to binge eating and binge watching Netflix. And while we all cope in different ways, this is something that’s really not ideal because it took me a long time to overcome emotional eating disorder.
So over the years I have developed some self care habits that help me sail through the tough days and below, I am sharing the list of all these habits that I hope you will find helpful:
#1: Detox from Social Media:
When we are feeling overwhelmed, the last thing we need is more stimulation from social media to top off our anxiety. We all know that social media can be a place that causes comparison and that’s not a good place to be in, when you are already feeling low.
I have found that take regular breaks from social media and taking these little detoxes always helps. I usually do a social media detox once a week, usually on Sundays. But I also have this self imposed rule to put my phone down whenever I am feeling anxious.
I find that it’s much better to be fully present with my thoughts instead of using social media as a distraction.
#2: Validate your thoughts and Feelings:
It takes a lot of practice to validate your own thoughts and feelings some times. When you are an adult, sometimes when things throw you off, you tend to belittle your emotions. I know because I have done it so many times in the past. I’d tell myself to get over it before I have even had the chance to fully understand or process my emotions.
We do this so often, to feel ourselves safe from more hurt. Sometimes acknowledging what you feel is hurtful, especially if it concerns someone you love. But I have realised that not acknowledging hurts even more in the long term. And bottling your emotions is not an ideal way top deal with it.
We all have past traumas that we need healing from and it’s upto us to do the healing in the present and not leave it for our future selves.
I understand that when you are grieving something/some one, acknowledging the pain and validating is not easy. And sometimes you will need to take some time (days) off to distract yourself. But once you’re ready, acceptance is really the first step on your healing journey. And you’ll eventually have to feel the feelings.
And that’s totally okay of you tell yourself that you’re allowed to feel off. You are allowed to feel sad and you’re not expected to be happy all the time.
During my postpartum with my second one, I had a lot of these tough days. I felt like I had lost myself completely and on some days taking out time for myself was not possible. And everyone around me kept telling me to count my blessings coz I have 2 little ones that are answers to our prayers.
But you know what? You are allowed to be sad, even when you’ve so much to be grateful for. You are allowed to feel multiple emotions all at once. Humans are complicated beings and our emotional state isn’t always black and white. We live in the grey most of our lives. And it’s for our best if we take out time to understand and make sense of it.
#3: Journal to understand:
A lot of people seem to think that journalling is overrated. And I was one of those people a few years back. But you have to try it to really understand what a powerful tool it is.
Whenever I am feeling off or having a tough day, it feels like my thoughts and emotions are going in a spiral and sometimes it gets so difficult to make sense of things. But journalling really helps me understand what I am feeling and why I am feeling this way.
Sometimes, while journalling, you will also find a lot of answers or solutions that you normally wouldn’t have.
There are multiple ways to journal, but on tough days, I find it best to journal open ended. Simply take a notebook and a pen and put your thoughts in paper (phone doesn’t count). Write as freely as you can, free from any judgement from yourself and without trying to make much sense of things.
There is something about writing it on paper that allows your mind to make more sense of things. It allows you to write in a free flow and sometimes you’ll be surprised to see the root cause of you feeling a certain way.
Always works for me, you should definitely give it a try.
And if you are someone who is very self-critical, then try the below exercise:
Write whatever you are feeling on a piece of paper. Once you’re done, read it all out and then tear the paper and let go off the thoughts. Knowing that your thoughts are not permanent, makes you feel good on tough days.
#4: Be accepting of your mistakes & forgive yourself:
It’s easier to forgive other people, but so difficult to forgive yourself. We always tend to see the best in people and the worst in ourselves. We tend to be so critical of every action we take, every mistake we make.
But in order to heal and in order to deal with the tough days, It’s important to accept your mistakes and forgive yourself.
We are all human and we all make mistakes, big or small. But it’s important to forgive yourself and give yourself grace. Take mistakes as life lessons you can learn from and don’t let your mistakes define who you are.
#5: Take deep breaths:
Whenever you are having a difficult day, breath work always helps. You’d be surprised to see how much of an impact it makes and how little deep breaths you take throughout the day.
It is such a powerful tool and thankfully you don’t need to “learn”, you just need to remind yourself from time to time. And it takes just 5 minutes to do and you can do it right at your work desk (although it’d be better if you can get up and take a 5 minute break).
Simply close your eyes and take a deep breath and feel it filling up and puffing your chest. Be aware of how your spine straightens when you take a deep breath. And then simply exhale. It’s also a very powerful tool in pranayam, where you exhale all the negative thoughts and feelings and inhale only the good energy.
In fact, doing 15 minutes pranayam in the morning (or whenever you have the time) reduces stress, improves your sleep quality, improves mindfulness and so much more.
#6: Take a rest day:
We live in a toxic culture of productivity and sometimes we tend to push ourselves into more work whenever we’re having a hard day. I have done it so many times in the past, that I can’t even count.
Being busy and not giving yourself time to feel and process your emotions is something we do “cope” on really difficult days.
But you need to understand that you’re human and you need rest too. The culture of always being productive and always having your calendar full, is toxic. So schedule in a rest day or two. Take a break from work and your everyday routine life and come back re-energised.
#7: Long bath as a form of self care:
After a tough day, sometimes all I really want is a long hot bath.
There’s nothing quite like a hot bath that takes the day off you. It always helps me relax. So if you are feeling overwhelmed too or are having a tough day, consider a bath. Draw yourself a bath with some epsom salts, essential oils and light some candles and play your fav music or a podcast(if that’s your jam).
Alternatively, you could also take a long shower. I prefer showers because the water from the shower head feels like a light gentle massage. Take some extra time and use your best products to feel good.
#8: A Nature walk:
There is something very healing about a walk in the nature. The fresh air, sounds of birds, sounds of walking on dry fallen leaves, everything really helps you forget about your thoughts for a minute and simply be present.
And over the years I have realised that sometimes being mindful of where you are and being more present in the moment is all we need to let go of anxiety and stress.
Nature has this ability to really ground us and help us be more present.
We do have the luxury of a nature walk right beside our apartment complex. It’s not a forest, but a small hill that you can hike and it’s one of my absolute favourite things to do. I love going on the small 20-30 minute hike and taking in the views and feeling the breeze/wind in my hair on days when I get overwhelmed.
If you do not have a nature hike, simple a park or outside space will also do. Or you could even turn your balcony into your sanctuary/oasis. I turned our balcony in a home garden and it is my little escape when days are tough.
Which brings me to my next tip…
#9: Do something you find joy in:
My little balcony garden is something that gives me so much joy. Of course it’s not a fully grown home garden that I’d ideally want, it’s still my favourite place in our home.
And when days are tough, caring for the plants bring me little pockets of joy. And sometimes you really need these little things to make your days a little lighter. I am all for feeling your feelings, but sometimes they simply get too much.
There are days when I find myself criticising every single thing and judging everyone for everything they say or do, and that’s how I know I need a break. So I will simply walk out to the balcony and spend some time there. It allows me to break that chain of downward spiral thoughts and allows me to take the situation as it really is.
So you need to find something that gives you the same kind of joy. Maybe it could be organising the house, doing some craft projects, cleaning (eeek!). Know what is it that you find joy in and be mindful of this little tool that you can use the next time when you’re having a bad day.
#10: Have your favourite comfort meal:
There is nothing that gives me more comfort that a bowl of hot daal chawal (daal-rice), when eaten with hands. Eating with your hands instead of spoon allows you to fully experience the meal and has so many benefits like improving blood circulation, stimulating digestion, regulating blood sugar and so much more.
For me, it simply takes me back to my childhood days when we used to visit nani’s house in the village and everyone (all my cousins) would sit in a circle and have meals together.
I always like to make myself a comforting bowl of daal and rice when the days are too difficult. And on days when I don’t feel like cooking, I’d simply order in. Yes, I am that person who doesn’t get a lot of take-aways or food deliveries, but when they do, there is usually daal rice on the menu.
#11: Simplify your space:
Decluttering and simplifying our life has been the biggest blessing for me when it comes to coping with the feeling of overwhelm. After having kids, I used to get so easily triggered by the mess, the chaos and also the noises. I was in a constant state of overstimulation.
So I put in a lot of efforts into simplifying our home (kitchen, pantry, closets). And while the house can get messy pretty quickly with 2 kids under 2, I find that it is super easy to clean as well, when you have systems in place.
The last thing you need after a long tiring day is a messy house too. And I cannot stress it enough, how much of an impact it makes.
I used to get too overwhelmed by the mess in the house but simplifying the space, did the task.
Less things means less mess to take care of.
#12: Nourish yourself:
On really tough days, it can be difficult to put yourself first. I had an eating disorder and used to use food as an escape, when feelings were too much to handle. And more often than not, I’d end up eating junk food and watch some shitty series on Netflix. All this just as a way of distraction and to not have to deal with the emotions.
But as I have grown up, I have made some lifestyle changes and even on tough days I know that eating junk food, is simply going to add to the problems that I’ll have to deal with later. I am kind of always thinking about my future self and putting my future self’s best interests first.
And there are days when I still eat “junk food”, i simply don’t do it when I am extremely sad or when I am celebrating. They idea was to stop associating junk food with any kind of celebrations or the feeling of sadness/depression or anxiety.
So when days get tough, I know my body needs nourishment more than ever. I will usually be having home cooked food, lots of fruits, salads and really balanced meals.
A bit of “indulgence” and “cheat meals” are reserved for days when we decide to go out as a family. I like eating guilt free, especially when I am with my friends or family and that’s how I balance.
#13: Practice gratitude as a form of self love:
Practising gratitude as a form of self love has gotten me through so many tough days. On difficult days when nothing seems to be going right, we often tend to focus on the negative and in turn raise our negative vibrations.
In doing so, we attract more of the negativity. I am a believer in the law of attraction and also the law of vibration, so whenever I am having a bad day, I make a point to do things that will raise my vibration. A couple of things listed above like nourishing your body or taking a walk in nature do exactly the same.
But there is something about practising gratitude that has an even deeper impact. It breaks your chain of negative thoughts and forces you to see and focus on the good in your life.
And trust me, even when you feel like you really have nothing to be grateful for, when you get into the habit of daily this daily, you learn how to appreciate the small things in life.
Give it a try maybe?
These are all the things that help me when the days are tough. Also remembering that everything heals with time and giving myself the time to heal and just be!
What are some of the things that help you sail through tough days? I’d really love to know! 🙂