What are some of your favorite things? What are some things that help you feel calm or at peace? A self-care kit will help with just that.
We all have that special something – even if it’s a guilty pleasure – that helps us get through difficult times. Or it simply helps us to relax.
There are times when I’m feeling down that I plop myself on the couch and stare into the abyss, going over conversations and scenarios (what happened, what could have happened, what can still happen, etc.) in my head. It never helps so try doing something that takes your mind off of it.
This is where a care package to yourself comes in.
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I had already been working from home for a couple of years before the pandemic hit (almost) a year ago. It’s stressful and can take a toll on your mental health, even without the rest of the world being thrown into a tizzy. If you’ve ever heard “advice for working from home” you’ll notice that they all tend to say the same thing:
Put on pants – it’ll help you get in that “work” mindset
Sit in a chair at a desk – no couches or beds
Do I always follow those pieces of advice? No, I don’t.
As part of my mental health resolutions, I wanted to set aside some time each week to spend alone. I feel like I’m constantly working and even though I enjoy what I do, I still need some time to step back, relax, and unplug for a bit.
I didn’t necessarily make any New Year’s resolutions for 2021 this year. I usually make writing goals, reading goals, etc. I decided to do something different in which those goals have been turned into quarterly goals. I have something I want to aim for and hope to reach it by the end of three months and keep moving forward.
So, I guess that’s my resolution overall: keep moving forward. No matter what it is.Read More »
A couple of weeks ago I talked about the Calm app and how I use it. I don’t use its full potential as I have the free version and it does what I need it to for now. Another app I use to help me with my anxiety and depression is called Daylio. This one is a journaling app and mood tracker. I’ve been using it every day for a year now and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
What is Daylio and what does it do?
The Daylio app is a mood tracker, first and foremost. There are five levels of moods you can add. I use the “traffic light” color scheme for my moods. So, they’re green, light green, yellow, orange, and red. The green is happy, productive, for example, and the red is angry, anxious, etc. You can give each color more than one mood which I find to be great.
You don’t just track your mood throughout the day though (you can update Daylio as often as you each day but it will “check-in” on you once a day). After inputting a mood along with the date and time you can write a journal entry that can be as short or long as you need it to be. Or, you don’t need to explain your mood at all. I personally like to add what I did during the day and why I feel the way I do. Sometimes I don’t know why I feel the way I do.
There are also “activities” you can add. For example, I have blogging, writing, reading, walking, baking, video games, and so much more. You can group them as well. So, I have an “appointments” group with activities such as a hair, doctor, dentist, grooming for Chip, etc.
It’s a great way to track your day. It’s quick and easy too.
Journaling is a great reliever
I’ve tried journaling so many times. I wrote in a notebook for years that’s still not filled up (though it’s almost filled) and I’ve also tried tracking my mood in a bullet journal. These methods work for so many people but I love the daily reminders from Daylio. I also love to see the progress I’ve made each week, month, and for the year.
Because you can add activities to the moods and your journal entries, you can see which activities tend to make you happier and ones that stress you out the most. You can find patterns and see how you can improve or figure out which things need to change and what don’t.
You learn a lot about yourself
Not only is journaling in some form a good habit to get into – whether you have anxiety, depression, something else, or nothing at all – you can learn a lot about yourself while doing so as well.
One of the things I love about Daylio is that you can also view your entries in a calendar form and they’ll show the different moods you’ve been in on each day.
I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d stick with Daylio for long. This is, without a doubt, the longest habit I’ve ever been in. At the time of writing this post, I haven’t used the app for quite a year yet, but I began using Daylio in late July 2019.
It was a rough year
I’ve probably said this enough but 2019 was a rough year and 2020 has been worse. Using Daylio to track my days – all the good and all the bad – has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.
If you’ve been struggling with anxiety or depression or anything else, I highly recommend this app. It’s great to track your mood and talk things out with yourself. Plus, the app is encouraging. There was one week where I didn’t have a single green mood and a pop-up appeared and basically said, “we’re sorry you’ve had a rough week but we’re glad you’re here.”
With that said, it’s encouraging and therefore motivates you to keep going. It does help.
At the time I had planned on writing this post there were a lot of things in the world that didn’t exist – COVID-19, to be exact. In fact, I held off on writing this post because I didn’t think it would be relevant for 2020. I think this is something that everyone can hear regardless of what’s going on though.
I have a couple of bullet journals because I like the idea of them. But they’re not really for me. I keep trying to find different ways to use them and fall up short. There’s one thing I use them for though that I’ve been consistent with and that’s making a list of “firsts.”
What is a list of “firsts?”
I did a lot in 2018. I traveled six months out of the year. Granted, four of those trips were weekend getaways, three of them being to the same place, and five out of the six was to a place I’ve been before. Still, it was a lot of traveling for me and I did go to someplace and new and try something different.
It was that year that I decided to keep track of a list of firsts. So, it’s sort of like a simplified journal but also a list of accomplishments.
I can’t exactly what made me think of the idea in the first place but I did it for 2018 and have been doing it every year since. (Admittedly, I don’t have much written down for 2020 since… well, we can’t exactly go anywhere.)
Why I think having a list of firsts is important
It’s such a simple task that requires little thinking and takes about five seconds to write down. Whenever you do something new, something different you never saw yourself doing before, or something that you’ve put off on doing because you were afraid to, for example, keeping a list of those things is important.
You’re acknowledging your accomplishments
I went to Canada in 2018. It was my first trip out of the country, it was my first trip without my parents, and my first trip on an airplane. (Sure, I had been on a plane once before but I was three-years-old and I don’t remember it.)
Not only that but the trip was totally spontaneous. My sister and I saw an opportunity and we jumped on it. That’s not how I roll. I’m a planner and I need to figure everything out to the last, precise detail before doing anything.
While there’s nothing wrong with being a planner, I think being spontaneous once in a while is good for anyone. It was an accomplishment for me because I jumped out of my comfort zone and you know what? I had a blast. It may seem simple to someone else but it was a huge deal for me.
You can see how much you’ve grown
I’ll tell you that there are things I did in 2018 that I never thought I would do years prior to that. I would talk about it, of course, but never thought I would actually do it. Or, not until I felt more like an “adult,” if that makes sense.
On the days you’re feeling extra down, you can also look back at the list of firsts that you’ve done in the past or that you’ve done recently. Trust me, it makes you feel better.
You can clearly see all the things you thought you “couldn’t do” but you did them anyway. Even if it took you a while. I didn’t drive on the highway until five or six years after I got my license. Even then it was with a friend and I’ve only gone on the highway once or twice by myself since then.
But I can still say I’ve done it and I can do it.
See how far you can go
I like to keep one continuous list for the year and then restart it for the following year. I write each new thing in a different color because it’s prettier that way, so why not? I don’t even bother to break it up into months. Normally that’s something I would do but I like to just see all that I’ve accomplished over the year rather than each month.
I think part of that is because if I see that I did five things one month and none in another month it’ll feel uneven and I’ll start to wonder why one month was “better” than the other. Of course, no month is better than the other. We all try new things when we’re ready to try them.
Try keeping a list of firsts and see how much you can accomplish in a year. Don’t push yourself – just note the little things.
There are a lot of apps out there to help with anxiety, depression, or mental health in general. A lot of these apps are like journals or they track your mood. These are things you can easily do in a notebook or a bullet journal, but apps normally track the patterns for you as well.
Calm isn’t necessarily one of those kinds of apps that is a journal or tracks your mood. It’s just as it sounds – calm.
What Calm can do
Okay, I kind of lied earlier. Calm does track your mood. I forgot it did that because I don’t use Calm for that. But, if you want, you can check-in with Calm. You can choose a mood and write about what’s going on and why you feel the way you do. However, you do need an account to do this.
There’s a free version of Calm and a paid version of it. I have the free version and it does just what I need it to do for now.
Calm has yoga and meditation as well as breathing exercises. There are also soothing music and bedtime stories. Most of this you need the paid version for. Which is why, eventually, I’ll probably pay for the app. For now, I mainly use the two free things I can: the breathing exercises and the scenes.
Calm has a cool part of the app where it’ll guide you through a breathing session. You can choose how long you want to breathe for and it’ll show a bubble that will enlarge and tell you when to breathe in, then shrink and tell you when to breathe out. It’ll also ring a small charm when you’re supposed to begin breathing in or out if you need to sit and close your eyes for a couple of minutes.
I’ll admit, I haven’t used this feature too often. I sometimes forget it’s there so I get too wrapped up in something else to think about it. But it’s a good idea and it’s definitely helpful to have something to guide you through breathing exercises depending on what you need it for.
This is what I mainly use the Calm app for. I use it when I work sometimes, when I read, when I’m doing a Sudoku puzzle or something, or just when I need to lie down for a few minutes, close my eyes, and relax.
These scenes create sounds on a loop such as rain on leaves, thunderstorms, a fireplace, ocean waves, and so much more.
The best part about this is that you can play the scenes with the app closed. So I typically have it on in the background on my iPad when I’m reading a book from the Kindle app.
I love the Calm app
I’ve had this app for years. I can’t even remember how I came across it or what made me want to download it in the first place. I use it all the time though and I won’t go back.
Calm is a great app for whenever you need to relax for a minute or an hour or longer. I highly recommend it to help with your mental health or just to have. I hope the get the paid version soon so I can talk about it even more.