Today I wanted to talk about something I do when I struggle with my mental health. It’s not for everyone; it won’t work for everyone and it might not even sound like your cup of tea, but that’s okay too. This is just what I do to try and get myself back on track if I’m feeling a very heavy mental struggle, I call it the “reverse to-do list”.
What’s a reverse to-do list?
For me, this is a list that I write down everything I do throughout the day, except I don’t do it all in one go like a normal list. I write it down as I’ve finished the task. The reason for this is because when you write it down when you have finally finished the task, you’re celebrating a little win each time whereas if you write a large list of what needs done that day, it can become overwhelming and de-motivating.
Over the last few months, I have began to have very depressive episodes and if you know me or even just follow me on social media, you’ll know I like to be productive and plan activities, especially over the weekend. However, when a depressive episode hits, even getting out of bed is a struggle. (I haven’t been diagnosed with depression but having done my research on symptoms and signs, as well as mentally living and feeling the way I do sometimes, that’s why I call them depressive episodes.)
One Saturday I woke up at 7am because I wanted to be up early to get ready for the local parkrun that morning. Everytime I sat up, I had to lie back down because mentally, I was being pushed down. I tried and tried and I just couldn’t get up, I was still lying there at 11:30am and it was torture. Wanting to be productive, wanting to get on with your day but not having the mental strength, it was frustrating. So after a few hours of feeling like I couldn’t move, that’s where the idea of the reverse to-do list came in.
If you’re not feeling great or you don’t want to put a lot of pressure on yourself, I would highly recommend trying to do this for yourself. The simplest tasks such as getting out of bed which are deemed as normal, can be quite overwhelming so you can even add that. Brushing your teeth, making a cup of tea, washing your face or even changing out of one pair of pajamas into a fresh new pair, is really all it takes.
Here’s an example of one of my reverse to do lists and because I started to write this list, I achieved more with my day surprisingly. This isn’t the case every time but on this particular day, I didn’t expect to change my bed clothes or meditate that evening.
Obviously as a disclaimer, I’m not going to write pretty lists when I’m feeling like I can’t get out of bed. I write them on my phone, usually in my Evernote app and then later on that evening if I’m feeling better, I write them out neatly with my nice pens (Doing this is very therapeutic). It gives me a sense of accomplishment seeing that I was productive during the day, even if I felt like I wasn’t at first.
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I find this is something that really helps me and if you have anything else that I could do in addition to this, please let me know. I love trying out new techniques to see what works and what doesn’t (for me). Thank you for taking the time to read this!