This post is inspired by this – Everything is awful and I’m not okay: questions to ask before giving up
First, let me tell you what I know for sure: What you are telling yourself is not true. The hurtful things in your head are not based on fact. You are a worthwhile person. I know this for sure. You, reading this, are a valuable person.
I am making this list because on multiple occasions I have typed something like this into Google, looking for some suggestions. I hope this might find someone and maybe something that works for me will help you.
Next, here are my go-to methods for when I feel ‘not okay’. For me, not okay could mean feeling depressed or anxious. Like many people, I experience both. Here we go:
- Take a shower: This can stop me in my anxious tracks. Also, you can cry without getting mascara all over your pillow. Let the water wash some of your troubles away.
- Make a cup of tea: I put on the water and then take a few deep breaths while it boils. I make a cup of chamomile tea or simply squeeze a lemon in. No caffeine, ideally. Put in an ice cube or a splash of cold water so you can drink it right away (my Nana’s trick). Now, savour it. The simple pleasure of tea brought a little joy to my life on many dreary days spent 10-storeys up in a cubicle.
- Stream of consciousness journaling: Write whatever comes to mind on a piece of paper. Paper and pen is better than on a computer or phone, but those will do if you need to. Don’t think/analyze/judge your thoughts (as best you can). I find the only way to do this is to go fast. Write quickly anything that comes to mind, and keep moving on to the next thought. It feels freeing. I learned this from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She suggests it right when you wake up and calls it “morning pages”.
- Get outside: Or at least a change of scenery. Maybe change rooms, or sit closer to a window. If you’re outside, feel the weather – winds, sunrays, snowflakes, raindrops. Find something green (preferably alive:)). When I see a plant growing in the middle of a city, I am reminded of the resilience of nature.
- Go for a run or bike ride: I am only seriously suggesting this for anxiety. If I have building anxiety that I just can’t get under control, sometimes I go out for a short run (20 minutes is enough). This works wonders in turning my mood around and stopping a full on breakdown. Anxiety usually means restlessness so this works for me. It would help turn my depressed mood around too, but I have yet to find the energy or motivation to go for a run when I’m really depressed, so I don’t.
- Distract yourself and try to laugh: So you don’t feel like ‘doing’ anything? That’s okay! You are still a valuable human. Watch your fave funny woman, or borrow something from my shortlist (Cats, Dogs, Not Funny, Just Awesome or Andy Goes to a Haunted House)
- Affirmations: I learned about creating affirmations that speak to you deeply from Louise Hay, and about using affirmations to counteract negative societal messaging from Alexis Pauline Gumbs. In the toughest times, I catch myself thinking “I can’t do this. I can’t handle this.” But in reality, I am handling it. Maybe very ungracefully, but still. I try to say to myself instead: “I will survive this” or “I can survive this”. Say something supportive or at least neutral to yourself.
- Talk: Reach out to someone you know and trust. Or, talk to a stranger if you can’t think of anyone in your life who you want to talk to. Call 1-800-SUICIDE or try 7 Cups of Tea if you don’t feel like talking on the phone. You don’t need to be suicidal right now to use these.
To anyone going through a difficult time (short or excruciatingly long), I am amazed by your strength. Just existing is a lot sometimes. You are here. You are worthy of a life you enjoy. You are enough just as you are.