What to do when you are not okay

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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”.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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, DogsNot Funny, Just Awesome or Andy Goes to a Haunted House)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.



2 thoughts on “What to do when you are not okay

  1. Beautiful post, thank you. As someone who is still working hard to uproot the “not good enough” false beliefs, I can tell you that your list is more or less my list. I’d say walk instead of run or bike ride but probably because I don’t own a bicycle. I’d also add a good cry. For me is a huge release despite the fact that I usually end up with a mega-headache. Also, I want to share something that changed my life entirely. You know how you mentioned affirmations? I printed lots and lots of them on a colour printer and then stuck them to the corner walls in front of my desk where I sit and write or spend time on the internet. The idea is that even if I don’t focus on them and read them consciously, my unconscious still picks them up, much like how the advertisements work. Two walls full of positive messages and in front of me day in day out, whether I walk in the room or sit on my desk. It’s one of the things that turned the tide when I was struggling every single day.


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