Remember rescue to self-care
Rescue yourself when you need it
When we are having a particularly difficult day in our mental space, it can be really hard to remember to self care. If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression, you might have days where your emotions just take over. Even your best plans to stay on track may go by the wayside. It’s on the days where you most need to practice self-care. But it’s also hardest on those days to remember how to help yourself.
That’s why our team here at the Jōrni put their heads together to come up with something to help. We created an easy mnemonic to help you remember your self-care during difficult days. A mnemonic is a word, phrase, or sentence that is used to remember a number of separate objects, elements, or ideas. It can be used to easily remember something we might otherwise forget.
So, all you have to remember is this one word - RESCUE
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
- Jean Shinoda Bolen
We have all been through those days where we can barely remember to get up and function. So, we put this together to remind ourselves of the basic self-care that is so important when we’re struggling with a difficult day. Especially since the health crisis started, it’s been more difficult to focus away from the negativity and back on ourselves.
Here is a breakdown of what this mnemonic stands for.
R elax and unwind
E at healthy & hydrate
C onnect with loved ones
R for Relax and unwind
A hallmark of self care, relaxation can come in a lot of different forms. Maybe you want to kick back and listen to some of your favorite music with a cup of tea. Or you just want to curl up with your favorite book or have a bath. Maybe you want to go for a swim or sit in a silent meditation. Or maybe you want to do some deep breathing or yoga. And maybe you want to do some coloring or sewing or woodwork.
The point is, find whatever activity takes you out of your worries and helps you relax and unwind. Deliberately take the time to focus on your needs. Focus on creativity. Focus on feeling comfortable and safe. This will help you ground your emotions and dial back the body’s stress response.
Rescue - E for Eat Healthy and Hydrate
It seems like such a simple thing to do. But I know from my own experience that when I’m having a hard day, this is the last priority on my list. The nutrition we get from our food directly influences our mood. That's why it's vital to eat healthy when we need the support the most. I know that it can be extremely hard to find the energy to cook when all we want to do is lay on the couch and eat Cheetos. But I cannot stress enough how important it is to make or find some healthy food.
On your tough days, try to eat less refined carbs and sugars and do your best to drink a lot of water. From there, fresh vegetables will help support your recovery the most. Junk food is a quick fix that will leave you worse off than you already were. Your body and mind will have a harder time recovering when they are fighting chemicals and toxins that throw them off balance.
I know it seems counter-intuitive from that box of chocolates you’re eyeing because we often associate sugar with comfort. But the truth is that healthy foods, not sugar, will make it easier for our bodies and minds to find balance. If you cannot find the energy to cook, try asking a friend for help or find a healthy take-out option.
S for Sleep
Especially during our worst days, sleep can be difficult to get right. Some of us have a tendency to sleep all day when we are unwell. Or we might lay awake all night, anxious that we are not getting enough sleep. Regardless of which sleep problems you are having, focusing on sleep quality is vital during difficult days.
Your body and mind use sleep to reset and balance, so getting enough rest is vital to re-balancing. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol will also improve your sleep quality. Another thing you can try is setting a healthy sleep routine. Try going to bed the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. Remove electronics from your bedroom to eliminate ambient light and distractions. Also consider not looking at any electronic screens within an hour of your bedtime (yes, this means TV’s computers and phones)... I know that’s a hard one, but it works 🙂
Rescue - C for Connect with Loved Ones
Sometimes when we are overwhelmed by our emotions, we retreat into ourselves and shy away from others. I know when I was having my worst days, I always isolated even further. It felt like it was too hard to talk to anyone because I couldn’t explain what I was going through. I wasn’t good company and I was embarrassed and afraid that they would misunderstand or judge me.
So, it just seemed easier to retreat into my room and shut out the world. This can be an understandable reaction. Especially when many of us aren’t even sure what we are feeling in those moments. On difficult days we might not even slow down enough to realize how hard we are struggling and completely forget to rescue ourselves.
I used to use my tendency to retreat socially as a red flag to tell me that I was having a difficult mental health day. I noticed that on days where I was pulling back from socializing, I was actually really struggling. This was a good cue for me to take stock of what I was actually feeling, and make more time to self care. Connecting with others, as hard as it may feel some days, is helpful because it leaves you with support instead of isolation.
It can be hard to find the motivation to reach out to a friend when you know you’re having a hard day. But if you’re able to be honest about how you feel, any good friend will understand. Maybe all you need is someone to join you on a grocery shop. Maybe just a phone call with your brother will help you get another perspective. It’s just about connecting with someone so you don’t fall into an isolated pit.
U for Unplug
Study after study shows how certain types of social media can lead to more anxiety and depression. A constant stream of negative news has us feeling hopeless. Ideal beauty standards make us feel the pressure to change our bodies. It’s real and deep disappointment we feel, when we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. The anxiety we feel when no one likes our carefully crafted post can ruin our whole day. Or the pain we feel when others shame us online has far-reaching consequences for our happiness. And the regret we feel after buying yet another item online that we can’t actually afford.
Our existence online is often packed with negative emotions. And we may not even notice the extent of the anxiety and depression it causes until we have a chance to unplug and take a break from screens. If you're having a hard day, make a deliberate choice to step away from your screens in order to re-balance.
I know that in my own case, on the days where I was feeling especially bad, I was even more prone to impulse shopping online. Maybe having a real conversation with a friend would have been a better way to fill that void I was feeling. I still practice “phone-free days” where I take a break from all that is virtual in order to connect with what is in front of me. I find it helps me stay in the moment and focus on how I am really feeling. Unless I make the conscious decision to unplug, the anxiety of not checking my phone lingers in all my daily activities.
Rescue - E for Exercise
This is another one of those counter-intuitive pieces of advice. I know that when we are having a rough day, exercise might be the last thing on our mind. We feel too overwhelmed and too caught up in emotions to even think about our body.
I remember seeing my acupuncturist one time when I was having a very hard day. To start the appointment he walked up to me and pinched me in the arm (lightly). I was startled and told him that hurt me. He smiled and said “Great. So you do remember that you have a body attached to that head.” He could tell by how I was moving and talking that I was completely caught up in my mind.
I was in a cycle of anxious thoughts with the wheels spinning out of control. It was clear that I desperately needed to bring energy into my body, into reality, and into the here and now. I needed distance from the tornado of negative thoughts about things that had happened or things that could happen. I was totally forgetting to live in the NOW. And I forgot to rescue myself.
That’s one reason why exercise can help you feel better when you’re having a difficult mental health day. It reminds you that you actually have a body attached to that head. It helps you feel more grounded and keeps your focus in the now.
Another benefit of exercise is how it increases your levels of endorphins, dopamine and adrenaline. These can help you feel more happy, more confident, and more capable. I know that it might be the opposite of what you feel like doing, but the rewards of exercise are instant and undeniable.
That’s the whole Rescue mnemonic. But remember, the most important key when using this mnemonic is making time for it. Don't expect self care to happen organically. Especially on hard mental health days, our tendencies go in the opposite direction. That’s why this mnemonic exists - so you have an easy way to remember the things you’re probably neglecting at that time.
On the days we need self care the most we are least likely to have the energy, motivation or time for it. It’s important to MAKE the time to self care. Make the time to follow this mnemonic, especially on days where you feel most overwhelmed or most down and hopeless. That’s the way it can help Rescue you.
And if you know you have a stressful week or day ahead, block off time in your schedule to make sure that Rescue happens.
Don’t work through your lunch hour, don’t binge watch TV when you know you need to get to sleep. Make time to Rescue yourself from a difficult mental health day by using the mnemonic to self care. It's a necessity, not a luxury 🙂
Share your own mnemonic for tough days in the comments below!