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When Your Brain Sucks: A Mental Health Checklist

Wow, I just love the look of that. ~mental health~. It’s a big scary term we use when all the awful stuff in our heads rear up larger than life and make it hard to get up, or keep us from breathing the way we should. Maybe it makes you think of therapy, and pills, and unpacking all the tangled strands in your brain.

No matter what’s going on for you, no matter what boat you’re in, everyone has bad days. And sometimes those bad days can’t turn into ~mental health days~, as much as we would like to curl up with blankets and Netflix or take a nice-smelling bubble bath and eat ice cream for several hours. Work, unfortunate social events, and just having to life can all interfere with having a day like that, and if the day you’re having is a bad one... it’s just not going to go well for you.

However, there are things you can do.

(These aren’t instant cures. They might not work for you — everyone is different, and has their own checklist of helpful things. These are just general items that have worked for me and tend to come recommended, to get you thinking.)

When you’re having a bad day and you don’t have a lot of time, or you just need to process things one step at a time:


Take some deep breaths. (Five is usually a good number. Or three, or ten, or...)

Just take a second.

Have you:

- relaxed all your muscles recently? released the tension in your shoulders?

- had some deep breaths?

- eaten in the past few hours? (a granola bar will do wonders, I promise.)

- had water recently? (even if you have, go drink a full glass right now.)

- straightened your back? (hunching over a screen or a book for hours is the worst for your spine.)
- gone outside today? (unless there’s a blizzard out there, go outside.)

- moved around today? (i know, i know, exercise is the absolute worst. but moving helps, for some horrible reason.)

- taken your medication if you’re on any?

If you’ve done all these things: congrats, good for you. Go drink some more water.

If you haven’t: get on that, friend. Little things like that are necessary for your health and well-being, and fulfilling that need can do wonders for you even if it seems like it’s small.

Some additional suggestions for bad days:
- take a walk around the block. (boom. outside and exercise at the same time. walking isn’t hard.)

- if that sounds gross to you (and i feel ya) do like, ten jumping jacks. get up and do them now.

- fruit! fruit! fruit! fruit is magical and good for you and delicious. just. fruit.

- stretch. general stretches, yoga, whatever you want to do. some gentle stretching will work out all the stiffness and tension in your shoulders and the rest of your body, and it forces you to relax your muscles and breathe, which is good for you.

- make a list of things that are good about today. or a list of anything.

- clean your room. or half of your room.

- do some art. throw paint at something. write some words even if they suck. play music. i don’t care. just arts for a bit.

- i’m serious. drink some water and go outside.

- turn on a bouncy/energetic/aggressive song as loud as you can stand

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