It’s hard to admit when I’m not okay. I tend to get really frustrated when it happens.
“A day ago, you were fine,” I argue with myself. “A day ago, you were doing so good. What happened?”
It’s such a cliche, but it’s so much easier to give grace to others than it is to give it to myself. When people in my life are struggling, I’m there in a heartbeat. I listen to them, I give them advice (if it’s needed), and I tell them they will be okay someday. This too shall pass.
When I’m not okay, usually there’s no reason for it. It’s just that one day I was okay and now I am not. One day I found beauty in the sunrise and the next day, the sun rising fills me with dread and overwhelm at everything it takes to simply be a human on this planet.
I haven’t been okay. I haven’t been okay for a while now.
This happens to me every so often. This time, I can pinpoint the cause. I know exactly why I feel like such a dark cloud of gloom, and while there’s a certain level of peace in that, there’s also confusion. Because I don’t exactly know how to work through this unhappiness I’m feeling. I don’t know how to make me better.
Thankfully, in times like these, I turn to my tried-and-true strategies for helping myself when I’m not feeling okay. They are my toolkit for feeling better, for getting back to myself. But before I get into these strategies, I do want to make a point that when I say I am “not feeling okay,” this is not code for depressed. I’ve been depressed before in my life and this isn’t it. It’s just feeling sad, a bit tired from the world. Generally, this feeling doesn’t last for longer than a week and I find my way out of it on my own.
Okay, with that said, here are my strategies for making it through those moments when you just aren’t feeling okay, for whatever reason:
1) Find your mantra.
“This too shall pass.” “Feel your feelings.” “It’s okay to not be okay all of the time.” “You will get through this now because you’ve gotten through this before.” I have a bunch of mantras I turn to when I’m feeling down. Mostly, I like to remind myself that it is okay to be sad. I am not a robot, I am a complex human being and all of my emotions are valid, even the ones I don’t necessarily enjoy. I also like to remind myself that I will not always be sad. I will not always feel so defeated by life. Find a mantra and repeat it over and over and over again until you start believing it.
2) Distract yourself.
Usually, I’ll distract myself with by downloading a romance novel or going for a long walk while listening to a podcast I love or taking my dog to the dog park. All of these scenarios keep my mind occupied, which is usually what I need when I’m feeling sad because I have the tendency to get completely wrapped in my head and downward-spiral into my own thoughts. Find something to do that will offer a complete distraction from your sadness – bonus points if it gets you outside and into the sunshine, since that will immediately boost your mood.
3) Write about it.
It’s not for everyone, but writing is a cathartic experience for me. Sometimes, what I write may turn out to be useful for a blog post, but not always. Often, it’s something solely for me. I also find that working on my fiction novel is a great way for me to deal with my funk because it’s something I enjoy so much and the subject matter is light-hearted. Even if writing isn’t your forte, having a journal and a place to get everything going on inside your head onto paper (or screen) can help you sort through how you’re feeling.
4) Call a friend.
Okay, listen. I am terrible at this. I’m the first to admit it. I do not like reaching out to friends when I’m in a funk. It’s completely ridiculous because I want them to pick up on the fact that I’m not feeling okay because obviously that’s the only way to show you care about me! (I desperately want to delete that sentence because it sounds so pathetic, but I won’t. Truth is vulnerable and truth is hard.) I also don’t want to burden my friends with my issues. Who wants to be around a Debbie Downer? But no. I know when I call a friend, when I let someone in on how I’m feeling, it helps so much. Whether it’s someone giving me perspective or just knowing I don’t have to carry this burden alone, it helps. Call your people. Wouldn’t you want a friend to open up to you if they’re feeling low?
5) Find a therapist.
Look, we all have times in our lives when we don’t feel like ourselves. Nobody ever feels okay 100% of the time. But if those times when you don’t feel okay start stacking up, when it starts taking you longer and longer to get out of your funk, you may want to think about therapy. I honestly think everyone can benefit from seeing a therapist, and I’m actively working to find one on my own (it’s much harder than I imagined, trying to find a therapist that takes my insurance and is accepting patients, but I’m determined). It’s just helpful to set aside time to see a therapist and talk about what you’re going through, to get a fresh (and professional!) opinion, to feel less alone. It’s the strategy that may seem like the scariest one, but the payoffs could be the most beneficial.
What strategies do you use when you’re not feeling okay?