I’ve always been intentional about my self-care and took notice about how my body is feeling, every hour of every day, and it can still not be enough.
Especially if I just finished having a breakdown or an episode.
I’m hoping that this post on self-care takes day-to-day methods one step further and helps add a little bit more oomph to daily self-care.
1. Be honest with yourself about what led up to the breakdown.
Trigger points are different for everyone.
For me, they always look like something minor on the surface.
The other day, I was so sick that I fell asleep while simmering chicken noodle soup. When I woke up, it was three hours overdone and completely inedible. I felt myself about to snap.
It looked like I was going to have an episode over a bowl of chicken noodle soup, when in truth, I had been sick for several days, I was falling behind on work because of it, I was tired, I’m unable to care for my children, my house was falling apart, and now, we won’t have dinner because I fell asleep.
If you have a breakdown, be really honest with yourself about what led up to it. Revisit the days and events that led up to the episode and ask yourself what could have been done differently.
Were there signs that you were nearing a breakdown that you ignored or gritted through? Make note of them.
My self-care practices were more effective once I started learning when they needed to be implemented.
2. Hit pause.
You might feel tempted to continue with your day and life because “life goes on,” even after a breakdown.
But you should take 5-10 minutes to yourself. You deserve it.
Hit pause and give yourself time to sit down, breathe, and calm your mind. You might be coming down from the adrenaline and be at an okay place for now, but you want to make sure that you’re good.
If people are demanding you to do something or are letting you know that you’re running late for a commitment, let them know that you need a minute. If you have chores or other obligations you’re feeling stressed out about, let yourself know, you could use a minute.
Everything can wait. Give yourself a moment to completely come down from the breakdown.
3. Know that you don’t have to take advice if you’re not ready for it.
Talking about the breakdown or venting to someone about what’s going on helps with my post-breakdown self-care.
Usually, I need someone who is willing to listen but not offer advice on my issues, simply because I’m not ready to think about what I’m going to do next.
Let your loved ones know if you just need someone to listen and not give advice, if that’s what you need.
If people have a hard time respecting your wishes or boundaries and insist you need help now, thank them for their concern and that you’d take it into consideration, however, at this very second, you just need someone to listen without judgment.
4. Take responsibility for what you deliberately caused and let go of what you had no control over.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of, “I can’t do anything right,” or, “I just hurt everyone around me,” but remember, people have their own choices and free will. You can only take responsibility for your reactions and your choices, not other peoples’.
Last year, I had a falling out with a close friend and the situation blew up. It felt like I was hurting everyone I knew. After a period of reflection, I took responsibility for hurtful things I said to my friend and his decision to leave my life. I was at peace with this ownership. However, other people definitely took sides or participated in adding fuel to the fire for their own entertainment and that’s on them. I let go of the burden of dealing with anything other people consciously tried to stir up. I hurt my friend, but I didn’t hurt *everyone* else. They chose to involve themselves.
It’s liberating to own up to your flaws and misgivings, but only yours. Don’t put anyone’s faults or blames on your plate, because it doesn’t belong there.
5. Consider preventative options for future breakdowns.
It’s not enough to just take care of yourself after a breakdown. You have to be mindful about preventing the breakdowns.
This may mean that if you haven’t been going to therapy, you need to set up an appointment.
If you stopped exercising (if it was previously helping you) maybe you need to get an accountability partner and get back into your routine.
If you’re becoming overwhelmed with cleaning your home or childcare, figure out ways to make extra cash or save some money to hire a once-a-month housekeeper or weekend babysitter.
6. If you live with other people, discuss communication tips on when you might be headed to a breakdown and what to do in those situations.
My husband is no stranger to my episodes and when I’m getting too close to one, I will let him know that I’m about to push past my tipping point. He tells me to drop everything and go to wherever I need to be (usually the couch or wrapped up in bed).
We could be in the middle of cleaning the house or making dinner, but he knows that he will temporarily have to double up and do my share of the work. (When I come back down, I will tell him to go do what he needs to do for self-care and I will double up, so it’s fair).
I used to feel guilty about this, that maybe he thought I was using my breakdowns as a way of getting out of chores, but after we had an open conversation about my mental health needs, I realized that I was the only one that felt guilty. He completely understood and preferred for me to lay down for an hour or two while he did the rest, rather than me have a breakdown and him spending the whole night making sure I don’t hurt myself.
Make sure that if you do need to step away from household chores or work for self-care, that you always keep your word and pick up where you left off, once you’re in a better place. It helps the household feel more comfortable with you suddenly needing to leave.
7. Be intentional about what makes you feel good.
I have a giant list of self-care ideas for days that you may not want to leave the house. Definitely make one of your own. I know mani-pedi’s are a popular one, but truthfully, I’m not huge on getting my nails done. I don’t get any gratification or happy vibes afterwards.
However, I love getting a foot massage with reflexology.
I really don’t like exercise or going to the gym because I feel self conscious… but I adore swimming at the beach or playing Just Dance with my son, for fitness.
So don’t just take my suggestions for self-care… try a few different things and see what really makes you go “yesssssss….”
(P.S. Another feel good of mine is playing with stickers. Loved doing it as a child and I’m currently shamelessly covering my planners with stickers as an adult.)
8. Reinforce your boundaries
Pushing my boundaries is one of the ways that I head towards a breakdown. I know I shouldn’t be reading Facebook before breakfast or after 7pm, but I do it anyway and my brain becomes overloaded with hyped up, emotion fueled articles, and suddenly I’m not okay.
Or maybe friends have been asking for a lot of favors and I keep saying yes when I should be saying no.
Make sure that the boundaries that you have in place are being respected by yourself and the people that you surround yourself with. They’re there to help.
9. Take it slow for the next few days.
Do you need to go out with your friends or stay in?
Do you need to take a day or two off of work or do you need to get out of the house?
Don’t force yourself into anything too stressful over the next few days, since you may still be sensitive after a breakdown.
If you feel like you need to binge watch Netflix and eat some takeout, it’s okay to cancel your plans with your friends.
Do what you need to do over the next few days and don’t force anything. Take it as slow as you need.
10. Ask for help where you need it.
You’re wonderhuman and you know that you can do it all… but it’s okay to ask for help.
Maybe you took on a project and now you need to back out. It’s okay. It’s better to do nothing than to half-ass a project anyway. People may be temporarily upset, but they’d be even more upset if you were giving subpar work.
If you need someone to text you or check in on you at a certain time, ask. Maybe let them know that you’ll text them at 7pm every night for a week to let them know that you’re okay, and to please text you to make sure all is well, if you don’t.
You can also seek therapy or local support groups, if you need it.
11. Remember that you have nothing to be embarrassed about.
Friend, I wish I had a gold star for every time I would not sign on Facebook or I would avoid my friends because I was too embarrassed to face them. I wouldn’t talk to my husband for a day or two because I was so ashamed that I had such a bad panic attack.
Your mental health (and any diagnosis it comes with) is a part of you. Maybe you have a panic attack once every few years or every other day. Maybe you flip out over chicken noodle soup or you can’t stop crying during Bambi. You’re a beautiful mess. The people who have chosen to be a part of your life are okay with this.
They’re here to support you and be there for you through your tough times.
Don’t be embarrassed of yourself or this part of you. It’s a part of your journey and your road to fulfill whatever it is you want in life.
What’s your favorite way to come back to a good place after a breakdown? Let me know in the comments below.