Sometimes life doesn’t go the way you want it to and all you want to do is curl up under the covers and go to sleep. Maybe you’re like me and you met your partner’s friends only to totally embarrass yourself when your social anxiety made you sound like an idiot. Or maybe, like me, you didn’t have the birthday you’d planned for months and felt it set the tone for the entire year. Maybe you’re going through a break-up, got fired or don’t know what to do with the rest of your life. Regardless of what you’re struggling with, I want you to know that I’ve probably been there and it CAN get better. The actions you take make a world of difference between waiting for things to go your way or making them go your way. So the next time you want to crawl into bed and never come out, remember the following steps towards being OK even when everything isn’t.
1. Go easy on yourself.
Take time to feel what you’re feeling. It’s OK to feed sad, or anxious or numb. Lie in bed with a pint of ice cream and talk on the phone with your BFF. Have long, lavender-scented baths and think too much about the future. Instead of worrying about things that are piling up that you don’t have the energy to do, set small goals like doing your laundry, cooking a nice dinner or walking around the block before rewarding yourself with a new episode on Netflix – or five. Of course, you should still make an effort to go to work or school – but remember to listen to your body. One sick day or a missed class never killed anybody.
2. Help those you care about.
After a few days, or even a few weeks, recognize that there are other people who depend on you– your friends, your partner, your co-workers, etc. Think about what the people in your life are going through and concentrate on being there for them. Not only will this remind you that you’re not the only one alone in your struggles but it’ll take some of the pressure you’re putting on yourself to fix your issues and remind you that you are in fact an important part of society regardless of how alone and useless you might feel in the meantime.
3. Make a list of goals.
Now that you’ve crawled out of the black hole you’ve been hiding in, you can create some goals towards making your life better. I’m a big fan of writing lists because when I’m feeling down structure is the only thing that keeps me sane. Use a piece of paper or the notepad in your phone and write down what you need to do that week. Don’t just include things you need to do at work or school but things you need to do to improve yourself – whether it’s going to a new event instead of staying at home or finally finding a therapist to talk to. Pick a few things for every day and work towards achieving them – but remember that it’s OK if you don’t get everything done because going easy on yourself and taking care of you is what’s most important.
4. Get excited about small things.
When you’re not OK you tend to lose interest in the things you love. If you’re like me, you stop writing and cooking and you feel like you’ll never be excited about life again. But take this time to find the joy in small things, like the leaves while you walk down the street or the taste of a hot chocolate. Slowly, as you take care of yourself through the steps above, the world starts to become brighter again. You suddenly think of a new recipe you want to try or a new article you want to write – and just like that you feel joy from living again. Take this time to motivate yourself to accomplish more of the list you’ve written and to add to it the more inspired you become. Let yourself become immersed in your new-found passion for life, and watch as you become OK again.
What makes you OK again? Let me know in the comments below.