Even the healthiest most put together non-conditioned individual has “off” or “low” days. If you are someone with a mental or physical health condition, well there can be a lot of those days. When you struggle with ailments such as depression, anxiety, any number of health conditions, extreme pain, or even just being in a state of brain drain and excess stress, it is essential to find small, simple ways to take care of yourself. Self-care is necessary even more so on “low” days, even if it may seem miniscule to the outsider, I’m telling you there are other people in your situation who get it, and to be proud of yourself when you make any step towards taking care of yourself, your home, or your goals.
Sometimes when you are overwhelmed or in that state where showering feels like climbing Mount Everest, it is hard to figure out how to take care of yourself and live your best life, whilst in that state.
Some situations it may just be about changing your outlook or positive thinking, if you need some help with that then you may want to check out my posts:
Other times, we are just in a funk, where taking care of ourselves (showering, eating, exercising), taking care of our surroundings (cleaning), or living our life (anything really) can just seem incredibly daunting…. And a low day can become a low week, or low month etc.
As I said I’m lopping a lot of different types of people with different situations into one common situation… taking care of yourself, surroundings, and life when it seems impossible… this can be for anyone, maybe you are just mentally exhausted from work and you have a few days off and you are out of sorts, maybe you have severe depression/anxiety, maybe you are a “spoonie” with severe illness/pain issues… no matter what sometimes we need something even simpler than those self-care tips that tell you to purchase bath bombs and get facials…. I personally wouldn’t consider myself a spoonie (for more on what is a spoonie see links at end of this post) and other than some occasional bouts of extreme menstrual pain and IBS pain, I am not a CHRONIC ILLNESS or PAIN sufferer but I do have anxiety, I have pain days, and I have low days. (I am working on fixing these things… for some it may be almost impossible or at least highly improbable to just “fix” these issues, and these “low” days can be your everyday reality… for those in extreme situations, I hope even one small portion of this post is helpful.
Also, note when researching this, I found that the majority of resources were how to change a bad day into a positive one, not grasping that 1) sometimes things aren’t bad nor are they good they just are “low” and 2) that for those dealing with specific issues/situations it just isn’t that simple. I mean, even outside of illness there are many people who are dealing with drain from high anxiety inducing jobs and brain drain… you yourself may not be clinically diagnosed with a particular ailment but the American lifestyle can be overwhelming and a struggle… also there are many people who are drained because they have to take care of others that they put their own needs on the backburner that when they have a “day off” it can be what some would call a “low day”. So like I said, lopping a lot of people into one post… hopefully you will find something useful no matter your situation.
Here are my tips for taking care of yourself:
Keeping yourself clean & Beauty tips when you want to look/feel good, or know you just need to be clean but can barely manage….
- Dry shampoo and wet wipes are your friends. Yes sometimes a shower is too daunting, or maybe just a full shower (you could put your hair in a shower cap) but you should clean yourself up. Use dry shampoo to keep a shampooing lasting longer/keep your hair from being an oil slick. Use wet wipes on any creases of the body or sweaty areas. If you can shower, wash those parts and keep your hair in a cap.
- If you are someone who is hairy but prefers to be shaved when you wear shorts or skirts or whatever, but it takes waaay too long in the shower to get it done. Then my tip is to do a pre-shave with those bikini/lip shavers that trim the hair so that when you shave in the shower it’s super fine and easy to do. (For some with very light hair this may be good enough for you and you may not feel the need to shave after this) Also, if you know you are going to be wearing capris or something specific it’s okay to shave to just the point that will be seen, if that’s all you can handle. [This is if you want to be shaved but don’t have the energy to shave all at once etc. If you are comfortable with your hair or do not remove your body hair, then skip this tip]
- Do your best to brush your teeth, when dental health goes bad it can get costly, also it helps me wake up at the beginning of the day. [No matter how I am feeling I try to brush in the morning and before bed, also flossing before bed. Now I am not a spoonie or have CHRONIC pain, but I do have some rough days… so on those days I may just swish with some mouth wash… ]
- Want to doll up?
- Lips: A tinted lip balm moisturizes and makes lips look pretty. This way you have some color but don’t need to worry about liner, and finish etc. I primarily use Burt’s Bees.
- Foundation/Face: SO I usually just leave my face bare however I will use lotion if it feels dry or sunscreen if I am going to be out in the sun. However, I have friends who swear by BB cream, that they went from a whole crazy routine to just using some BB cream so maybe you will find that helpful.
- Nails: I have both Sally Hansen’s fast dry nail polish (and top coat makes it last longer) and impress stick on nails, depending on the occasion. Both work fast and are simple, take little energy. (Tip: the stick-on nails you really need to use the clean wipe they have with the kit to make them stick, and give them at least a half hour before getting wet, such as washing hands or going in a pool, they should stay on for at least a week!)
- Fragrance: A simple more natural fragrance such as essential oil based spray is like and non-chemically, and easy to spritz on without much effort
- Eyeshadow: I rarely wear eyeshadow these days but when I do I have roll on sticks such as the ones by juniper. Easy on, applicator free.
- Wear your glasses… Have contacts but feel exhausted by the thought of putting them in… just wear your glasses, it’s your life and face, there is nothing wrong with wearing glasses.
- Change your clothes… Even if you aren’t going anywhere, if you have clean clothes to change into, you should freshen up what you are wearing. It is also okay to change from one set of pajamas into another.
Eating…. Having a hard time finding the will to eat/cook? Here are some tips
- Don’t chastise yourself if you really just cannot handle and you sit and eat some junk food… of course you should be mindful of how much you consume, and you don’t want to make every day like this but some days if it’s between you eating junk food and not eating at all, the junk food at least has some fuel for you.
- Try to only use a few utensils/cookware, the more mess you make the more you have to clean up which can become overwhelming [For example if you want to cook, perhaps try “sheet pan” meals or “one pot” meals so you don’t have lots of pots and pans to clean just the one. ]
- Also, I will try to use just one spoon or fork or glass, during the day and rinse it between meals/drinks/purposes if I am on my own for the whole day… this makes clean up easier.
- Stock up on simple (minimal prep) healthy foods on a “good” day (or better/motivated day)
- Microwavable meals like the following brands (some need freezer some don’t): Kaishi, Tasty Bite (Indian), Luvo, Saffron Road, Lean Cuisine Market Place, Amy’s (also makes canned goods), evol, and Good Food Made Simple.
- Healthy Bagged snacks such as: Sun Chips, Tortilla chips (w/salsa), popcorn, rice cakes, baked chickpea snacks, seeds/nuts
- Other packaged options: string cheese, baby bell cheese, fruit cups (dole or otherwise), squeeze fruit pouches, hummus minis, guac minis [NOTE: Minis are great because then you don’t have to commit to eating the whole container], chia seed squeezes, peanut butter/almond butter squeeze packets, jerkys, etc.
- Fruit & veg with long shelf life: apples, potatoes (can microwave them easily- google it, or my fav I cut red potatoes and boil them in beef broth until mushy delicious), carrots, celery, garlic (if you only ever use minced they sell them in jars), zucchini [cut off ends cut in half, toss in oil put on pan on the stove top or put in small pan in the toaster oven I usually add garlic powder sometimes feta cheese], oranges, lemon (you can even buy those pre-squeezed lemon juice things in the fake plastic lemon if you are just using the juice yes it’s not as good as the real thing but it’s better than being too depressed to go out to buy lemons so you don’t make that dish/drink or wind up eating/drinking something worse for your health)
- Also any canned or jarred veg/fruit: such as roasted red peppers, as mentioned above minced garlic
- Also juices: Is it better to eat the fresh fruit, of course yes, more nutrients less sugar but once again if it’s between you eating an sugary cookie and a cup of juice, then the juice has more nutrients
As for cleaning I feel as though I can’t say it any better than this thread from a tumblr group called “Panic Attack treatment club” (images found from Pinterest, if sources are wrong please correct me).
If you cannot see/read the pics they say:
First image reads:
dormouse11: Hoo Boy Do I have depression/ Executive Dysfunction Cleaning Tips!
In no particular order (because I have depression and executive dysfunction):
- If something sensory about cleaning bothers you, eliminate that before you start. For example, I wear gloves to do the dishes. If the sound of the vacuum bothers you, wear headphones and turn up the music, etc.
- If you can make a list of everything that needs to be done. Then acknowledge that you probably can’t do it all, and circle all the things that absolutely, no matter what, have to be done. Pick one (ONE! ONLY ONE! START WITH ONE!) of those things and break it down into smaller steps. Then even smaller steps. Seriously, if step on is ‘stand up’ and step two is ‘walk to closet’ and step 3 is ‘get mop’, that’s fine. It can be that small.
- Take a break. ‘But I literally only started five minutes ago!’ Don’t care. If you want a break, take a break. ‘At this point I’ve spent more time on breaks than I’ve spent on cleaning.’ Ok, but you’ve spent more than zero time on cleaning so you’ve accomplished more than you had at the beginning. ‘If I take a break it won’t get done!’ If you burn out it won’t get done either. Take a break.
- If nothing is working, try what I call bin cleaning/box cleaning. Take a big trash bag and a box. Pick up the first object you see. Step 1. Is it trash? Put it in the trash bag. Step 2: Will you use it in the next 2 days? No? Put it in the box. It’s a problem for Future You. IF you’ll use it in the next 2 days, take time to put it away. Rinse and repeat.
- Did you get distracted and forget what you were doing? Don’t worry about it. Just clean a thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the thing you were cleaning before. You have to clean lots of things, so just pick a thing and clean it. Eventually you’ll get around to the thing you forgot.
- If you have to do a thing you really hate, do a thing you like afterwards. I hate doing dishes, but folding laundry soothes me, so that’s a nice one to do afterwards. YMMV. IF there are no cleaning things you like that you can do afterwards see number 3.
- Make it fun, play loud music and dance while you’re cleaning. Wear something that makes you feel cute, or if you prefer something comfy. Light your favorite candle whatever.
- If it’s nice out, open a window. Seriously it helps “
Second image reads:
mareliini: I divide my room into areas since my mess usually gathers into a few hotspots: clothes and stuff on the chair, general mess of papers and trash on the floor etc. Picking on area at the time and making it clean before moving forward helps me staying organized and I can see the results faster
bemusedbybespectacked: I do just one kind of cleaning. Like if I have to do laundry dishes and pick up the mess, then I’ll do laundry first and then dishes and then mess. Also if you have a bunch of clothes on your floor and you’re not sure if they’re clean or not, just wash them anyway. Gets them off your floor and into the hamper.
aerylon: there’s’ also a blog here on tumblr called @unfuckyourhabitat that offers tons of cleaning support and suggestions for people with a variety of physical, emotional, or mental health issues , as well as for those that just need motivation. I’ve been following them for a long time and have picked up some awesome advice and shared some too! Check them out!
robotsandfrippary: Remember only cleaning one thing is better that not cleaning anything. Doing a half-assed job of cleaning is better than not cleaning anything. Have a long or boring task and having trouble focusing on it? Listen to an audio book.
The only thing I would like to add to the advice above is that if you really don’t know where to start but you need clean items… especially when it comes to laundry, put on a wash with an entire outfit, pjs, a towel, and your pillowcase (forget whites/colors etc. just don’t use bleach or anything color/white specific). So this way you have a clean outfit for the next day, pjs for that night, a towel for a shower in the morning, and you can rest your head on a nice clean pillow.
What about life in general??
Well perhaps it’s time to build a ladder?
Another great resource is Simon and Martina of “Eat Your Kimchi” they have YouTube videos and a blog discussing what they have been through. Their blog is primarily about their travels and life living abroad, but they deal with issues such as depression and EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), among other things. From this channel (they also have a blog, Instagram, twitter, and Facebook accounts), Martina coined the phrase “Build a Ladder”. And to paraphrase as best I can what she meant by that was, when you are in the pit of despair when depression or whatever mental/physical illness/condition has limited your life and made you feel hopeless that doing one small little thing towards your goals or one little thing of self-care adds a rung to your ladder as a way to climb on out. She explains it better but there’s a reason that this has resonated far beyond the community that watch the Eat Your Kimchi YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/simonandmartina
For me and possibly for you as well… building a ladder on a really low day that could mean:
- Stepping outside for a few minutes, taking a walk, or even just opening up the windows
- Doing a simple but pleasurable task such as a few stitches in crochet, coloring in a coloring book, working on a puzzle, playing a video game
- Engaging your mind: watching a movie/tv show, listening to a podcast, reading a book [even if any of these is just for a few minutes or few pages etc.]
- Journal, write, talk to someone on the phone, sometimes getting the thoughts out or just looking at the positives on paper or with someone can be extremely helpful.
There are a lot of great self-care tips out there, extensive cleaning routines, new adventures to take… however, when you are in a rut, overwhelmed, or having a “bad” illness day it’s hard to do any of those things. It is extremely hard to do anything during these times and what may seem like a “no-brainer” for some people can slip away from people who are in these types of situations.
SO ultimately remember…. It is important to 1- make sure you are clean and have on clean clothes, 2- eat (especially if you have something simple and healthy) 3- tidy/take care of your surroundings 4- give yourself something that makes you happy (build a ladder)
It is important to take care of yourself, any step no matter how small or simple is A STEP! If you accomplished anything on a low day then be proud of yourself.
Remember you got this!!
9 healthy frozen meals that aren’t your childhood tv dinners by greatest
Video: “How I deal with Chronic Pain” https://youtu.be/f3uF3EpSZMw (Martina’s build a ladder)
http://www.literallydarling.com/blog/2017/05/16/47780/ (Another blogger’s take on Build a Ladder)
https://patientsrising.org/what-is-spoonie/ What is a spoonie
https://paindoctor.com/what-is-a-spoonie What is a spoonie and how the concept may help you