From time to time, we all have days where we feel down or ‘low’; and it can vary from person to person as to how well we cope. For me, I’ve learnt that these ‘down days’ come around the same time each month (thanks for that mother nature!) Or, after I have had lots on and suddenly stop, which I think is probably similar to lots of people.
On ‘down days’ I get feelings of dread, worry, disinterest in everything in my life and panic that I just can’t continue. Growing up, I used to think I was crazy when I felt like this and that I was the only one. I also got really embarrassed by my extreme emotions and the way I coped. In my twenties I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and ever since I have learnt that my mind is THE most important part of my body that must be greatly respected and regularly nurtured.
Thankfully, mental health is a HUGE topic of conversation right now and although I no longer see myself as depressed, I do recognise the familiar feelings and have found some great ways that help me to find sunshine on dark days, I’m hoping they’ll help you too:
Try to be mindful of your mood changes and you will notice what triggers them. After observing myself, I know exactly the type of situation that triggers anxiety. Being mindful of these situations and almost ‘watching myself from afar,’ I know that when those feelings of overwhelm and stress arise, that it’s only a temporary situation and I can usually put my finger on what has caused it and calm myself.
2. Be kind
Being kind to yourself means going with the flow and doing what feels right. It is the very best thing you can do. Love yourself, forget strict diets and body image worries. Remember all of your best achievements. You are amazing! Don’t beat yourself up over things you haven’t done or plans that have been missed. Do only whatever you can, with whatever you have and give yourself that time off. Your mind just needs a rest, much like any other part of our body. If you only feel like sitting under a blanket in your comfy clothes, then do that. If you only feel like going for a walk alone, do that. Take it easy.
3. Be thankful
When you feel like everything is going wrong, taking some time to note all of the things you are thankful for can lift your mood and remind you that, like all things, this too will pass. It may feel strange at first, but listing things aloud that make you smile and physically smiling whilst doing so (even if you really don’t feel like smiling) can totally change the way you feel too.
3. Equilibrium is key.
Don’t try to achieve too much and don’t aim to be over cheery when you’re just not feeling it. Aim to be in the middle and keep things bobbing along on an even keel. If things are getting too much, slowing down and throwing the to-do list to one side for a day, or even a few hours, might be just what you need.
4. Let go of guilt
Don’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself ahead of others or your to-do list. Taking time out to make yourself feel better, means you can be there for everyone else and do all of your usual jobs much better afterwards. Don’t worry about the washing that’s still in the machine or the bin that needs emptying – these things will still be there for you to deal with tomorrow.
It’s amazing how much better you feel after a good cry. We seem to think that crying is a sign of weakness, when in fact, knowing when you need to cry and letting it happen is a sign of strength.
6. Find your champion
Find a person you can talk to and be honest with. A person who makes you feel good about yourself and reminds you of how brilliant you are. If you have someone like that in your life, grab them with both hands and hold on to them. Likewise, if you have people who make you feel the opposite, it’s time to sever ties. These people will never help you in your quest to feel brighter.
7. Let yourself get distracted
If you start to feel overwhelmed take a moment to stop, go for a walk, read a few pages of a book or simply listen to some music. All of these things can distract your mind and take you back to a place of equilibrium.
8. Consider meditation and/or yoga
I go to a regular yoga class and it really gets my week off to a positive and calm start by helping me to rest my mind and concentrate on my body and releasing tension. I also practice mediation through an app on my phone. It allows me to just be still and do nothing but concentrate on breathing.
It’s important that if you’re feeling like you’ve lost control, have feelings of dread, lack of interest and overwhelm all or most of the time and not just temporarily, please seek further advice from your GP as you may have a mental health issue and may need a little extra help to feel better. You can also call MIND on 0330 123 3393, or The PANDAS Foundation for perinatal mental health support on 0845 28 98 401.