Life doesn’t always go to plan. For all of the good times, there are bad times too. Times when we’re hurt and sad. When we’re lonely. When life has derailed and it all seems too much. While we can’t always control others actions or the world around us, what we can control how we react and how we treat ourselves. I spent years struggling with depression, and it took me years to realise just how important it was to be kind to myself, to practice self-love when I was feeling my worst. While thankfully I’ve been depression free for years, there are still times when things don’t go how I hope and I need to remember to be a little kinder to myself.
1 | Reach out – my instinct is always to bottle up my feelings, or whatever is bothering me. Internalising it only makes it feel worse, sitting and dwelling on your problems is a sure fire way to make yourself feel worse. When something goes wrong, reach out to a friend – that old adage “a problem shared is a problem halved” really is true. Even if they can’t help fix whatever is wrong, they can offer comfort and a different perspective.
2 | It’s OK to cry – if you need/want to cry, then cry. Don’t try and hold it in. You should never be ashamed of crying, sometimes our bodies need that release. Pop on a weepie movie and let the tears flow.
3 | Let go – don’t feel bad if you can’t keep up your normal pace of life. Drop anything that isn’t absolutely vital, struggling to keep on top of everything when you’re not feeling great or life is hard, is only going to make you feel worse when you don’t manage to do everything. Drop the to-do list, make a list of the bare essentials that really have to be done and don’t feel guilty for dropping a few balls.
4 | Take it one day at a time – sometimes thinking about the next week, month or year is so overwhelming it makes us feel worse. In times of stress, the best thing you can do is take it one day at a time. Try not to worry about next week and just focus on doing whatever it is you need to do to get through that day.
5 | Sleep & Eat – two of the best things you can do for yourself is to sleep if you can and feed your body healthy foods. Personally, in times of stress or sadness, my appetite always vanishes and my insomnia is awful. Choosing nutrient-rich food, even if you don’t feel hungry, will make you feel better – smoothies are a good way of getting lots of nutrients easily. Find ways to help yourself sleep – I find meditating really helps me switch off my mind enough to get a little sleep – I really love the Headspace app for this.
6 | Pamper yourself – It’s amazing how much of a difference taking a little extra care of yourself can make. A long, hot soak in a bubble bath. A face mask or manicure can really make you feel a little better.
7 | Write it out – one thing I really find helpful, is to write down all my thoughts. Even if they make no sense, just getting it all out on paper means that my head doesn’t have to remember all of those thoughts. Let yourself write everything you are thinking, with no censoring. Looking back over it later on, can help you identify thoughts that are not valid or even true.
8 | Get out of the house – you might not feel like leaving the house ever again, and the thought of seeing other people might not appeal. But a change of scene is always a good idea. Sitting home, staring at the same walls, with no company is the perfect recipe for making yourself feel even worse. Go visit a friend, talk a walk or just grab a coffee.
I’m not saying any of these steps will magically make the hurt go away, or make life be back as it should. But they will help you get through the rough patch much easier than letting yourself unravel completely. Taking care of your body and mind helps to make you that little bit stronger. And, hopefully, one day you’ll feel like yourself again.