If you – like moi – navigate anxiety and/or depression on the reg, you probably have your own toolkit of strategies that help you step back from the spiral/black hole and grasp onto something solid.
But if you are not a freaky feeling frequent flyer, then maybe you haven’t got a trusty bunch of go-to strategies. With that in mind, here are some things to do if you are feeling yourself descending or lifting into somewhere you don’t really want to be, emotionally.
7 Things To Do If You’re Feeling A Bit Shit
1. Say hello to your feelings, they are okay
As overwhelming as they may seem, there is something about dragging them into the light of day and calling them what they are that truly helps. Think of yourself as a scientist or an explorer – pointing out the big feelings and noticing their habitat and behaviour. While this might seem a little bit arms-length-y, it’s actually a brilliant way of respecting and normalising your current state – rather than catastrophising. Noticing and treating yourself with kindness and acceptance can help stop things feeling much, much worse. (I read this book when I need to remember all the feelings and things have a place. I have read it about 123 times, so far. Thanks Sue!)
2. Turn off social media
When you’re in a fragile state, it’s easy to look for proof that everything truly is terrible, and social media is a brilliant place to do that. Not only that, it’s a place where everyone else seems to be having a totally amazing time – moving on with their lives and achieving all the freaking amazing things. As you and I well know, this is often an illusion. Protect yourself by shutting down the socials, just for now. If you are particularly on edge or struggling, remove social apps from your phone (or avoid your phone), give yourself a couple of days away from email and avoid media sites too. Just until you’ve grappled back some equilibrium.
3. Get back in your body
When tough times hit, you’ll probably have some physical symptoms as well as emotional ones. Find ways to look after your body and take care of that half of the equation, at least for a little while. You could: take a nap, have a hot bath, do some stretches on the living room floor, wash and dry your hair, go for a gentle walk, drink some hot herbal tea, dress carefully for the weather (cosy or breezy), give yourself a face massage/facial, do some deep breathing. Or something else that makes sense to you.
4. Comfort watch
While the only way out is often through, sometimes it helps to have a distraction from spiralling or gloomy thoughts. Comfort watching is a brilliant way to do this, with the proviso that it’s good to avoid dark stuff (as perspective-giving as it is) at least until you’re on a more even keel. A few non-sucky gentler things to watch: Martha Bakes (Netflix), Hyori’s Bed and Breakfast (Netflix), Kim’s Convenience (on Netflix), Terrace House (on Netflix), Chef’s Table (Netflix), Queer Eye (Netflix).
5. Retreat or reach out
Everyone is different when they’re having a tough time. Lots of people like to be in the company of others (or even see a professional to talk things through) and lots like to have quieter times, being alone or retreating to a small circle of trusted pals. Do what works for you and if you’re berating yourself about not being able to ‘soldier on’ or ‘harden up’ then just don’t. It’s good to do what works for you and respecting your own approach to feeling better is important.
6. Know that you are making progress
It can feel like we’re treading water, when tricky times hit, but actually there’s a whole lot of progress going on. It’s just a sort of shy progress that doesn’t look like the shiny achievements we’re used to seeing lauded. Know that, however stuck you feel, things are happening. It’s just that these big shifts are happening in ways that are hard to spot when you’re up close. Down the track you’ll notice the shifts in yourself and marvel at how you didn’t feel them happening, at the time. So ditch any metrics or perceptions about what growth and progress look like and know that you’re doing what needs to be done, in harder-to-see ways. Trust yourself. You are good and clever.
7. Have a go-to feel-better prescription
Write it down in the ‘notes’ app on your phone, or on a piece of paper you can stick on the fridge. Maybe it says:
24 hour social media break, 3 scoops of ice cream, 4 episodes of Hyori’s Bed and Breakfast, hug dog, 2 extra blankets on the bed, bake a cake, chat with pal/turn phone off, 5 minutes of trying to breathe deeply and not think about the shopping, hot bath until prune-like, a bit of a sob, proper pot of tea, pat cat, 2 paracetamol, nap.
I am giving you a solidarity fist bump, if you are on a tricky feeling trip, peaches.
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