What to do when you feel like shit

Hey honey bunch.  We’ve all had days like this. (Including Van Morrison).  Maybe you’ve tried to be “strong” and ignored the warning signs that you aren’t doing well.  It’s really understandable, but it can often lead to disaster.  There’s a beautiful book I want to recommend to you – Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings By letting yourself have them, by Tina Gilbertson.  This book is amazing and helps you to understand how important it is to acknowledge how you are really feeling.

Recognise your pain points

We all have unique signals that warn us that we are running on empty.  I can’t predict what your warning signs are, but  I can suggest some typical indicators that you are hitting the danger zone:

  1. Going to bed without brushing your teeth (repeatedly)
  2. Being “too busy” to buy food – you end up being besties with the Dominos delivery guy/skip meals/seriously contemplate cutting the mould off some stale bread and eating it anyway
  3. You feel like you are dragging yourself through the week and spend Sunday dreading getting back on the treadmill
  4. You’ve used an entire can of dry shampoo lately and yet you still can’t drag yourself to wash your hair…

If any of these sound familiar, I understand, I really do.  So how can you pull yourself out of this?  You won’t do it by beating yourself up.  You won’t do it by giving yourself “tough love”.  You need to treat yourself gently, with kindness and compassion.  Reach out and get help.  Tell someone how you are feeling.  Go to your doctor.  See a therapist.  If your phone had a virus you might restore the default settings.  Let’s look at how we can help you to press reset.

Think about the “basics” – adequate sleep, exercise, good nutrition, hydration and connection.  They are fundamental to feeling good but they are often neglected when we are going through tough times.  When we skip these basics we are on a collision course.  I’m  going to expand a bit more on each of them and I want you to think about which ones you’ve been skipping.  How could you reintroduce them into your life?

Let’s break it down (now I feel like a rapper!)

Sleep

When we are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed it can be really difficult to get adequate sleep.  You might find yourself oversleeping, or experience insomnia.  You might discover that you have difficulty falling asleep, or you may frequently wake up during the night.  This can have a serious impact on your ability to tackle the challenges you encounter throughout the day.  I recommend trying yoga nidra at bedtime to try to release mental tension and unwind.

Exercise

This is something that is easily jettisoned when we are busy, but it is vital to wellbeing, both physical and mental health.  It doesn’t have to be strenuous and if you do it in a group it can also help you to feel better as it allows you to interact with others.  Alternatively, you might like to do it alone, listening to an inspirational podcast, a gripping audiobook or your favourite music.  What appeals to you and sounds like fun?  It could be zumba, skating, cycling, walking in nature, yoga, etc.  Remember that the goal is to engage in regular exercise, 3-5 times a week for about thirty minutes.  Get those endorphins going!

Nutrition and hydration

Certain foods are associated with helping to improve anxiety/depression.  Processed foods can have a negative impact on your well-being.  Similarly, when we are dehydrated we are not operating at our best.  Be mindful of how you are fueling your body if you want to feel at your best.  Simple steps like upping your intake of fresh, unprocessed foods can have a significant positive impact on how you feel.

Connection

When times are tough, it’s natural to want to withdraw.  However, this can often lead to rumination and feelings of isolation.  Avoid toxic people (or at least limit the time you spend around them), but remember that time spent with people who care about you will help you to feel supported.  You may also see yourself through their eyes, which can help you to be less self-critical.  Borrow their faith in you until you can start to generate it yourself.  We all need cheerleaders to help us to achieve our goals.

For this last bit I kind of want a megaphone (not because I want to shout at you, I just really want to make sure that this part of the message is heard!).

Now is the time to connect with the part of you that has been neglected.  What have you been crying out for? Rest?  A break from your inner sergeant major?  What could you do for yourself today?  What one small thing are you going to do right now?  (Could I be so bold as to suggest  booking a massage?).  Eat a banana.  Pat a furry friend.  Download the Positive activity jackpot app.  Try this simple tip.