(Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and these tips should not be taken as medical advice, for more information see the Medical Disclaimer.)
Now, some of these things are super simple. But that’s the whole point of a slump: why should I bother?
You should bother because it’s good for you, we all know it. But damn is it difficult.
So I am going to take you through my tips and tricks (in rough order that I try to get them done) for getting out of a massive heap.
And we’re going to start off in a very basic place: the bed.
1. Make your bed
I know it’s hard. I know. But do you best to force yourself to roll on out of bed and just straighten everything up.
Fluff up your pillows. Rearrange your cushions. Fold up your blanket.
Even if you’re about to use them immediately after (see number 13!), you can say you did it. And it will make all the difference to your bedroom, too, making you less likely to want to mess it up again. That will then bring you one step closer to pressing the reset button on your mental health and getting something else done today.
And this brings us onto our next point.
2. Get yourself clean and refreshed
Unless you’re the kind of person that has your life completely in shape (if so, well done!), you’ll know what it’s like to forget enough about self-care and your mental health that basic physical maintenance just goes out the window.
But this is the most important thing to consider when you’re in a slump. Even if everything else is a resounding no, self-care should always be, at the very least, a reluctant fine.
So go brush your teeth. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Because you’re still gonna need those teeth in a few years time.
While you’re in the bathroom, go brush your hair. Then you may as well take a shower or a bath and wash that hair while you’re at it.
Well then, now that you’re already feeling like a wet dog, it’s probably a good time to wash your face as well. The sink is right there in front of you.
The trick here is to do things in the right order. These small steps feel like cumbersome tasks when considered on their own. But when part of a larger routine, all actionable in the same room, it becomes a case of why not?
3. Get changed into clean, comfy clothes
Now that you’re cool and clean, you’re gonna need to put clothes on that naked body. Unless that’s not your style, then you do you.
The type of clothes depends on the feeling you’re trying to achieve. If you’re wanting to feel calm and chill, opt for fresh pajamas or comfy clothes. If you want to ease yourself into a productive mindset, try getting dressed into your favorite professional outfit, or even go for a smart-casual comfy trousers/smart shirt combo.
The most important thing to remember though: Don’t force yourself.
If you’re hoping for a productive mindset but it’s just not happening, go for the chill option, and give yourself permission to take some time out and relax. Remember: the most important thing is your mental health, not your expectations for yourself.
Truly relaxing and recharging requires more than just taking time out and sitting down, it means completely surrounding yourself with things that you find comfy and calming.
So I encourage you to go get your favorite pajamas, your onesie, your thick fluffy socks, and marshmallow yourself up.
4. Drink plenty of water
This is another basic self-care element that literally no one ever does.
Okay, maybe an exaggeration. But people are even less likely to drink enough water when they’re having an off day (…week).
But these days are when it’s most important to stay hydrated. According to Calm Clinic, a lack of water can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, and so in order to take proper care of our mental health, as well as our physical health, in our efforts to get out of a slump, hydration is key.
My tip for keeping up hydration is to use a good quality water bottle or a cup with a straw. Both of these make drinking water a little more interesting (somehow?), especially if you get a pattern or color that you’re crazy about. I’d also recommend getting a water bottle that has measurements on it to track your water intake!
5. Take calming herbal supplements
You may relate to this: My slumps usually occur when I’ve stressed myself out so much that I just dive. Or I’ve been in a continual state of positive productivity (without taking proper time out to decompress) and I do a complete 180.
So taking this time out to de-stress and calm yourself will be beneficial all around.
I shared my tips on how to deal with those moments of panic and anxiety, and I mentioned one of my favorite herbal supplements for calming myself down.
Valerian is used for mild-moderate anxiety and sleep disturbances (also menopausal symptoms!), and I’ve always found it helpful when trying to get out of a slump on those low mental health days.
My preferred brand of valerian supplements is Kalms, and you can get these from Amazon. They do a lower dosage for mild daily stresses and anxieties, and a higher dosage for sleep disturbances (which I also use for more moderate anxiety).
6. Eat some fruit
When you’re having a bad mental health day, you’re probably much less likely to be active (or move from the bed at all), so meet healthiness in the middle and get some nutrients in you.
While one banana may not have a lasting impact in the long run, one banana when you’re feeling low just might make a difference.
Fruit will give you a sweet kick and is another small trick to promoting your own self-care, allowing yourself to focus on your physical health a little. After all, self-care is the main thing to maintain when you’re in a slump.
It’s also a good way (not always attainable, I’ll admit, see point 13!) to curb the munchies when all you can think about is binging on Doritos. At the very least, it should make you feel a little zap of achievement because go you! You ate some fruit today!
7. Take any necessary vitamins or medication
This point is more of a reminder than an actual tip, but I know that some slumpers like me need to remember this sometimes!
Take that Vitamin D, take that B12, and definitely take your medication (you really need that!) Of course, don’t go overboard on the vitamins, and only take the ones that you know you need and will actually be helpful (some vitamin supplements can be pointless!)
8. Create a clean and calming environment
When I’m in a slump, I find that my day is magically revived by tidying my room and airing it out.
Okay, maybe it doesn’t have that much power, but it honestly makes a difference.
Not only are you creating a less stressful space to recharge in, but you’re also doing something useful with your time (yes, tidying is useful!) By tidying your surroundings, you will be able to find things easier (which is life-saving when your mental health is taking a hit) and actually enjoy looking at your room.
Another tip is to open up the windows and air out the room. You’ll hopefully be drawing out some of the dust in your room and bringing in the fresh air you desperately need. If your room feels particularly stifling, I would recommend getting an air purifier to get rid of that dust.
In terms of creating a calming environment, my go-to is aromatherapy. I usually go for incense, but will sometimes opt for essential oils in a diffuser.
Whatever your preference, I would recommend lavender or sandalwood for a slump revival. Lavender is great for stress, while sandalwood is traditionally used for depression (though I find they’re actually equally good for both!)
While I’m not sure about the spiritual effects of aromatherapy, I do believe that certain scents can have a significant calming impact on us, whether through memory or enjoyment. So go ahead and give it a try!
13. Have a duvet day. On top of the duvet.
I know, this one sounds a little counterproductive when trying to get yourself out of a slump, but I’ve found it to be a great stepping-stone towards actually being productive.
Or maybe that’s just what I tell myself.
But I do find that laying on top of the covers allows me to chill out a bit more while also ensuring that the boundary is set in my mind between sleep-time and work-time. It means that I can’t just pull the covers over my head, roll over, and go to sleep. Even though I really want to be sleeping.
14. Consume things you love (with intention)
While I usually have my planner and any work I should be doing placed neatly at the foot of the bed, in the spirit of keeping things low-key, I will just lay in bed watching YouTube or reading a book.
And this is okay. In fact, I encourage it.
Give yourself permission to enjoy these things and relax without feeling guilty. I know it’s hard, I’ve not mastered it yet either. But when you do give yourself that permission on a low mental health day, it’ll be much easier to be naturally pulled out of a slump.
You can choose to watch or read whatever you like, but I would recommend something that makes you feel positive. Something that inspires you, something that makes you happy, makes you laugh and makes you remember that this slump is only temporary. Avoid things that make you feel negatively like the plague during these days.
The tip here is to try and consume these things with purpose. As one of my fave YouTubers, Rowena Tsai, says in her video How To Be A Productive Potato, as long as you’re internally consuming things that inspire you, make you think, or teach you something, you can get away with vegging out and not getting as much done physically.
So if you’re into podcasts, listen to a podcast on something you’ve always wanted to learn about, or something that you want to broaden your knowledge on. If you like watching YouTube videos, watch some organization videos (speed cleans!) or creative videos to get you inspired. If you’re into reading, read something that educates you or inspires you, like the autobiography by your favorite person or a theoretical book about a topic that you’re passionate about.
15. Eat (a little) junk food
Okay, so I’m well aware that this tip wildly contradicts the 6th tip. So let’s just ignore that and move on.
Eat some garbage food. A piece of cheesecake, an ice cream, a doughnut.
But only have a little. I can’t stress this enough. Plan to eat healthily the rest of the day and allow yourself a short moment of indulgence around the early afternoon of your slumpy day.
This tip is simply about indulgence, I won’t lie. But in crappy times like this, sometimes it can really help. Again, don’t go overboard. Remember to emphasize to yourself that it’s a treat. You’re giving yourself a gift. No guilt and no shame.
Be mindful when you eat it. This isn’t eating for the sake of eating, this is eating something you really enjoy and remembering the positive sensation of enjoyment. So experience it. Enjoy it. Bask in it.
16. Write in a journal
Journals can be really beneficial in maintaining good mental health, providing you with a place to write out your thoughts and map your internal processes out.
Methods of journaling vary between people. Some people like to write in the traditional ‘Dear Diary…’ format, while other like to have a book for simply dumping out the contents of their brain.
Personally, I do both. I use a traditional journal for emotional rants, full of big wordy thoughts and attempts to understand what I’m feeling. And then I use another notebook to jot down thoughts and ideas and things that need doing, in a much simpler format.
So your journaling method will really depend on what you’re trying to resolve. If you need to bang out your emotions because they’re stressing you out, try writing in full sentences in your own voice. If your stress is caused by your brain being so full of information and tasks and ideas that it’s ready to burst, consider using a brain-dump.
I would also recommend getting a journal (or journals) that you love. You’re going to be creating a bond with this notebook, so you should probably make sure you like each other. My favorite places to find notebooks are Paperchase and Sainsbury’s (I know!?)
17. Drink some herbal tea
Herbal teas can be an incredibly effective way of chilling out and calming down. As that’s what we’re going for on a low mental health day, I’ll give you some recommendations:
Teapigs Chamomile Tea: I will rave about chamomile until the day I die. It’s soothing, it’s calming, and it’s a great bedtime tea. It’s also easy on the stomach, which is great if you have stomach issues like me.
Teapigs Snooze Tea: This herbal tea contains chamomile, lavender, and apple, and is super effective at making you sleepy. It also acts a little like aromatherapy, because you’ll enjoy sniffing the lavendery steam!
Pukka Love Tea: This tea is a lovely blend of chamomile, lavender, and rose. And for me, that rose makes all the difference. While it is somewhat similar to the first two, the rose seems to add an extra layer of sleep-inducing calm, for me at least!
Twinings Superblends Sleep Tea: Also like the first two, but again with a twist! This tea contains chamomile, passion flowers, spiced apple, and vanilla. I know, it sounds like a Starbucks drink, but it’s so soothing. Especially during the winter months and in the evenings.
Pukka Three Ginger Tea: Okay, so this one isn’t so much calming as it is invigorating. But I thought I’d throw it in, because it’s a good tea for when your slump is nearing its end and you’re ready to be productive. It gives you a nice, natural zap of energy to ease your brain into working.
19. Do your nails (or trim your beard!)
Now this one may appear a little trivial, but this comes under the important topic of self-care once again.
By focussing on your physical maintenance, you are reminding yourself that you are important. By making an effort to maintain your personal style, you’re showing your body that you value it.
So do your nails, trim your beard, or shave your legs. Whatever makes you feel new again.
20. Do some yoga/meditate
This is one I always tell myself to do, but it rarely happens.
So I’m just going to tell you to do it.
Both meditation and yoga are good ways of paying special attention to yourself and maintaining good mental health. By being mindful about your internal and external self, you’re once again reminding yourself that you are important and that your wellbeing is important.
Just a 15-minute yoga or meditation sesh can make you feel a lot better. It allows you to center your thoughts and just take some real time out. Once again, it doesn’t hurt to try!
21. Go outside for 5 minutes
I’ve left this one to last, but it’s probably the most important thing to remember when you’re in a slump lasting more than a day.
I know that when I’m in a slump, going outside isn’t even on my mind. I just hole up in my bedroom, nest myself, and slump.
But that’s not so healthy, is it?
So I would recommend getting out of the house, even just standing in the garden or outside your house, for five minutes.
Breathe in the fresh air, feel that sunshine (or, more realistically, rain if you’re in the UK), get a different perspective of the world from that one inside your laptop, and just be outside.