I’ve been around the block a few times and I always think it’s good to share this kind of stuff. Sometimes, things go wrong. It’s pretty poxy, but it’s the way life often is. It’s not always peachy, you know?
We can’t always have the brightest day or get what we feel we deserve in life… It seems disappointing, but it’s just the way it can be. Darnit.
Still… know that if you are having a really crap time, that you are in good company because good people do have crap times and there are others out there hanging on by the skin of their teeth just like you.
Everyone is different and every situation is different, but here are a few ideas on how to respond if you are having some darker days. These things could help in small or big ways, I think.
I hope things brighten up soon, darling-face.
1. FEEL THE FEELINGS
I know you might want to bury yourself in your work or wrap your feelings in a kind of emotional sushi roll and compartmentalize them away, but I am here to tell you that it does not work.
In the long run you will be MUCH healthier if you have a little chat with yourself each time the feelings wash over you. ‘Oh man. I feel so sad. Why did that happen. It makes me feel so lonely and dumb’ and have a sob as you go. Rolling them up like an avocado packed snack is not good. You will get the wasabi backdraft when you least expect it.
Feeling things out – even if it means tears – is much better. You are mindfully dealing with what has gone before you. If things just seem too, too awful it’s time to ask for support from a friend or head to your local GP and let them know you need to talk this through with a therapist. Don’t be shy about this. If you had a peaky knee you’d go to the doctor, so a peaky head and heart should be approached just the same.
2. GIVE IT TIME
Don’t get cross with me. This is a proven strategy from a person who has lived through adversity aka me. Time really does change the way you feel about things. It does not heal all wounds. Nope. But it really does move us on from the all-consuming intensity of things to something less all-of-the-time.
Time also lets different perspectives trickle in as we process what’s happened, research how others have felt and dealt with the stuff you are going through and slowly start to learn to live with whatever adversity has bumped into us.
Possibly easier said that done, but this is the time to let the restorative powers of sleep do their thing.
If you can’t sleep, do not lie in bed and wonder about how things could have turned out a different way. Get up. Lie on the couch. Put a blanket over you. Watch something mindless on TV or read book until you drift off again.
Turning things over and over in the dead of night is not allowed. Distract yourself until the day dawns and then choose one of these strategies to move on with.
4. HAVE A PITY PARTY
Once you’ve done your best to feel the feels you can level up a bit. We ALL know that alcohol is a depressant. We know that. But sometimes having a few Pimms or pints or gin and tonics with your buddies and sobbing into a beer coaster is just the kind of companionship you need.
Note that it’s a good idea to have a co-pilot or a pal sleep over so that you can talk those post-pub babbling hours away until you feel asleep. The pity party is really a one night only offering. Having a pity party every night or solo pity parties = not advisable or helpful.
(And if you’re going to be all tut-tutty and ‘alcohol is not the answer’ know that I am a PERSON not a PSYCHOLOGIST so let me give PERSON advice, dammit!)
5. HAVE A HEART-TO-HEART
Social media has helped us to refine and roll out a glossy new form of communication, but it can NOT trump the old ’sitting on the floor with a cup of tea tearily looking into someone’s eyes admitting you don’t have all the answers’ type situation.
If you don’t have friends or family you can talk to frankly and awkwardly and vulnerable-y, then maybe it’s time to get a referral to a counsellor. Most of the time you can get a few sessions for free and chatting to a human in a non-curated, non-polished, actual human way is going to help you a lot.
Find a way to do that… and if you don’t have those people in your life, know that it’s a symptom of modern life, not a sign that you have issues. #StupidInternet
6. PAT AN ANIMAL
Comfort animals are an ACTUAL thing now aka therapy tool, telling us that what we alway knew – that hanging out with animals can help us to feel understood and more grounded – is totally proven.
If you have a pet, you are well on your way to some small doses of feeling better. If you don’t have a pet, getting out amongst nature might be a good alternative. Animals not only KNOW when things are awry, they do their best to communicate their solidarity AND they are a reminder that there are big, amazing, complex systems at play out there in the natural world.
Things that make us feel a bit less BIG and a bit more like we are part of something BIGGER.
7. WALK IT OUT
And while we’re talking about nature, it’s good to note that being out in the world amongst the trees and the chirpy birds and the snails and the ants is a calming tonic if you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s good to walk at a little bit of a pace to get your blood pumping and avoid maudlin meandering.
If you walk for long enough or at a decent pace your endorphins will reward you, but even a little bit of fresh air and fresh perspective can clear the head and help you find your feet.
8. WRITE IT OUT
This is my favourite thing to do. Open up your computer. Create a document. Start typing. This is just for you. It’s not a novel or fancy prose. It’s for your eyes only.
Write down all the things that are worrying you. Think about the feelings that are washing over you. Try to write those down too. How it feels. Why you feel that way. What happened. Who was there. Write, write, write. Then save your document. Come back later that day, or tomorrow. Do it again. Do this every day. Get it all out.
9. TREAT YOURSELF
Maybe it’s time to take yourself out for a little treat? I’m not talking about racking up totally bonkers charges on your credit card, I’m talking about treating yourself to the kind of things that make you feel sparklier (even if it’s just for a little while.)
For me that would be books (old or new), op shop ceramics, vintage dresses, kim chi, nice stationery, white chocolate, bunches of smelly flowers, colourful socks, nice perfume, new leggings (I KNOW!) Your things will be different from mine, but equally important. Don’t spend too much… but do treat yourself to a few little pick-me-ups.
10. LOOK AFTER YOUR BODY
Things can go to rack and ruin when you’re feeling like it’s all too much, but it really does help to TRY and look after yourself each day. Non-negotiable are things like hot showers or bubble baths, exercise is a good one too (even if it’s just some stretches in the lounge room, that’s exercising too, ya know?!) Drink plenty of water, don’t drink too much wine, eat some green things every day, try not to gobble the whole block of chocolate in one evening.
Try to look out for your bits and pieces because it will make you feel better in the long run and being physically ill as well as heartsick is not anyone’s cup of tea.
If you are feeling like everything has gone wrong, you have my deepest sympathies. Life is full of crappy hurdles, but know that each time you get over one your resilience is a little bit more super-powered and your wisdom grows three-fold. Hang in there, chicken. One day this will be distant memory and you will laugh in the face of its dumbness.
Other good stuff on my blog:
10 Ways To Help A Friend When They Are Sad Or Struggling
Pip’s School For Slumpy Creatives : Lesson One
How To Make Choc Chip Brioche Buns
24 Non-Crap Things To Say To The Sad Person In Your Life
Make My Very Best Chicken Soup