MH: What does “Look after Yourself”, “Rest”, “Being Kind to Yourself” Actually Mean?

When a friend of mine broke their collarbone in an incident involving her cat. She was put into a sling with regular fracture clinic visits and told to rest the arm. She absolutely ignored this advice and as a result, has made her recovery more convoluted.

With physical illness it is always easy, broken arm – rest the arm, broken leg – stay off the leg. What happens when it’s your brain? You can’t stay off your brain. How do you rest your brain? When people ask you to look after yourself, to rest and be kind to yourself. What does this actually mean? I used to think this meant I had to get of the house, go for walks, clear my head, meet friends, do yoga, etc.

To be completely honest, sometimes some of those things really helped but equally, sometimes they made things worse. When you’re suffering from a mental illness, looking after yourself is a priority and you have a responsibility to yourself. That means letting yourself heal.

What does healing involve? Listen to yourself. If that means meeting your friends for dinner, do that, at other times, if that means cancelling because you can’t face it do that. Do whatever you need to, to get you through the day. Live day to day and when things are bad, hour to hour.

When you’re in the thick of it. It feels like that dark cloud will never pass, sometimes that the tears won’t stop streaming and the numbness, god the numbness, will be permanent.

Take solace in the fact it will pass, I promise you.

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