Friday, 11 November 2016

9 things for down days: part 2

So, you read last week's blog for a few of my tips on how I deal with down days and you're back for more (woop woop). I've had a very funny week. After posting 9 things for down days part 1, I seemed to have the most down days I've ever had in a week and found myself lost in trying to use my own techniques. I'd already written this post so didn't want to change or add any, but something that really cheered me up this week was these:

Looking through my holiday photos from this year, and even past years. I have the most incredible family and we've had so many lovely times. I don't know, it just really cheered me up to have a look back. Even if it was 2am in the morning, it cheered me up and sent me into a lovely deep sleep (to which I didn't wake up until 9am Sunday morning!!).

I'll get to the other tips now.

Practice mindfulness (and meditation)
Mindfulness and meditation really have been a lifesaver for me over the years. I was always into Yoga and Pilates as it was a great technique for me to keep fit (and lose weight) but I also loved the breathing techniques you paired with  the exercises. When my eating disorder took full control and I lost a lot of weight, I obviously had to stop exercising, but I continued to meditate. And when I went to hospital, I discovered mindfulness.

Don't get me wrong, it's not for everyone. In the Priory, I'd have a mindfulness/meditation class every evening and I loved it. Others however, hated it and wouldn't go (it was optional). But it was my favourite part of day and to this day, I still use some of the techniques I learned there.

I will write a more detailed post on mindfulness soon, as I think it's a life changing coping technique (and I bought a new book on it!) But there are two mindfulness "games" which are my favourite.

1. The A-Z game.

I play this all the time, when I'm trying to fall asleep and have a lot on my mind, when I'm in the doctors waiting room and even when I'm stuck in traffic. I'm sure you've played it when you were younger, but didn't realise what a great technique it is for anxiety and depression.

All you do is select a topic, i.e. films, and name a film from A-Z like Apollo 13, Back to the Future, Case 39... If you want to make it harder, try and remember each one as you go. For example for C you'd have to say: Apollo 13, Back to the Future and Case 39. It's a fab technique.

2. The colour game.

This one was a bit annoying for me at first because the idea is that you name everything around you of a certain colour. I.e. when you're in the doctors waiting room, pick a random colour, like red, and name everything around you that is red. And if there's nothing red, well you pick another colour. But I just end up getting more and more irritated because there's nothing bloody red and I want to give up on life. I guess that's the technique, trying to find it makes you mindful. But it makes me angry. 

So I jazzed it up a bit and instead I think about all the different colours. around me, i.e. her top is white, it's pretty; that chair is blue; the door is red. It's sounds weird, but it just makes you aware of your surroundings, instead of your thoughts, without getting angry because you have to find something red. (Funny that I chose red - the colour of anger. Oopsy) 

Listen to music (feel good music preferably) 
This is one of my favourites, which my mum passed onto me. We share the love of music. When we listen to our favourite songs, we instantly feel our moods pick up and I think that's common for a lot of people today. Whether it's your favourite 90s tracks, a Drake album, pop music of today or a mixture of them all, we all have songs we love. Create a playlist on your phone, laptop or Spotify account and name it something like 'Feel Good'. Then when you're feeling down, chuck it on, turn it up and wait for the magic to happen (you feel happier).

Look after yourself (pamper evening!) 
Take a shower, paint your nails, apply makeup, watch hair and make-up tutorials, groom yourself (for men), try different outfits on - anything that makes you feel good in yourself and love yourself just that little bit! 

Accept that it's okay to feel this way
This is a biggie. Accept that feeling this way is perfectly normal and you're not alone.

This is probably one the hardest things to do. I'm not saying accept that you're going to feel this way forever and will never recover. DEFINITELY NOT. I'm saying accept that down days happen, blips in recovery happen and that no one judges you because of this.

One of the hardest things for me when I began recovery was blips. Every time I had one I thought I was back to square one, but the thing is, you're not. It's simply a blip along the way and you don't realise that each time you blip and get back up, you're stronger than ever. You're not back to square one, you're many miles ahead. The worst thing you can do is to hate on yourself because you've had a blip or a bad day. Trust me, I've been there and done it and it makes it so much harder to get back up in the end. Sometimes, a blip lasts a few hours, sometimes days. It doesn't matter. As long as you accept it's part of your journey and take notice of how far you've come!

I still have blips, but they're no where near as bad as how I was when I was really ill with my mental health a few years ago. Sometimes (like last week), the blip lasted a little longer than usual. But here I am writing this, feeling better than ever. Not weaker. 

And a little bonus tip (for anyone who knows me knew this was coming)... watch friends. 
Probably my favourite programme of ALL time (the theme tune is even my ringtone). But it seriously cheers me up. Obviously, it's not for everyone, some people I know don't even find it funny?! But if you've got a TV show you love and find hilarious, having that on record or box set is ALWAYS useful.

I hope you found this two-part series useful is one way or another. Comment below if you have any techniques you'd like to share, as I'd love to hear them! 

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