I am not a licensed therapist. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357). You can download a free printable list of hotlines here.
To be honest with you I think happiness and positivity are really overrated in our culture. I don’t want to glorify feeling happy as the best way to feel. You could be perfectly happy sitting on the couch eating nachos all day (ok I do really enjoy nachos) and not learning or accomplishing shit. Honestly, all of my most important, pivotal, define who I am as a person moments happened when life really kicked the crap out of me. I think struggle should be celebrated and reached for just as much as happiness. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and all that. Don’t get me wrong, practicing gratitude and working to be positive has changed my life but I feel like the struggle gets discounted a lot. Don’t discount your struggle. If you’re hurting and knee deep in the fight I hope these tips will help you keep going.
Focus on Positive Things
I like to write a gratitude list in my journal every morning, gratitude is truly a mindfulness exercise. If I don’t make an effort to stay aware I can end up going through the whole day without taking a second to appreciate what I have. Before I eat my food I take a second and think how glad I am for the meal I’m about to eat. When I get in my car I think about how fortunate I am to have a vehicle. When I walk to work I take a second and think about how happy I am to have the financial stability I get from my job. It is easy to go about your day to day tasks and never think about how fortunate you are. It takes discipline to practice gratitude all day but it has made a huge difference in how I feel every day.
Negative people really effect how I feel. I try and get rid of or limit my contact with negative influences and I find that it helps me feel a lot better. It’s really difficult to be in a positive mindset around people who are raining negative energy down on you. If there is a coworker that is always complaining try to spend less time with that person. Take the negative people off of your Facebook feed. Try to watch TV shows that make you feel good and spend less time watching ones with conflict. Try to be aware about how you feel after you spend time with your friends and surround yourself with people that make you feel good about yourself. You do not need to spend time with people that are critical or that bring you down.
Take a break from the news
I am someone that reads a lot of news and this is something I really struggle with. I’m sensitive and the news focuses on all of the bad things that happen in the world while almost completely ignoring all of the great things that happen every day. It’s OK to take a break from the news to focus on positive things. Try to cut back and only read the headlines once a day. I have a whole blog post about following the news without getting really f-ing depressed.
Be in the Moment
I am someone that wastes A LOT of time replaying things that happened in the past and worrying about the future. This is such a huge waste of energy. Most of the things I worry about in the future don’t even end up coming true and even if they do worry doesn’t help anything. I try to stay focused on what is happening right now. If I feel my mind starting to worry about the future I gently remind myself to stay in the moment and be aware of what is happening right now.
Exercise can release more dopamine and feel good drugs into your brain. I know when I am exercising I have more energy and feel better about life overall. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Spend time doing some kind of exercise, even if it is only a little bit. Watch my favorite free dance workouts here. If I am feeling stuck and like you I can’t gather any positive energy I always turn to exercise. Exercising is like tricking your brain into feeling positive. Even if I can’t mentally get into a positive place I can give my brain some dopamine and find a little relief.
Read or watch something that makes you feel inspired. I have a pinterest board of inspirational quotes you can checkout. I like to find something that makes me feel motivated and set it as my desktop and cellphone backgrounds. Make a vision board or pinterest board of places you want to go, goals you want to achieve and people you want to meet. Spend some time daydreaming about what you want your life to be like. Read a biography of someone that you admire or that you think has a great life. Whenever I want to feel inspired I listen to Abraham Hicks speeches on YouTube. Abraham Hicks teaches positive thinking and the law of attraction. If you need a pep talk listen to this one by Kid President.
Get a Mantra
Find a mantra or affirmation that really speaks to you and what you are going through. Repeat it in your head, say it out loud or write it down. I like to set mine as a reminder on my phone so it pops up throughout the day. I have a list of affirmations you can download for free.
Turn Off Social Media
Sometimes when I get stressed out I have to take a break from social media. If you feel like you’re getting support from social media then it’s OK to stay on it. There have been plenty of times that I have been able to find support and comfort through social media but I’ve also had times where I constantly compare myself to other people and feel bad about myself. If social media is bringing you down it’s OK to take a break. Remember that social media doesn’t show you anything about how a person really feels and you have no idea if someone is happy or struggling. Take a break from social media if you need to and just focus on yourself and how you feel.
I know how hard it can be to try and sleep when you’re struggling but sleep is essential to your recovery and you need to make it a priority. When I am having a really hard time sleeping I start getting up really early (5am) every day and try to stay busy all day. This trick usually means I am tired enough by the end of the day to be able to fall asleep. If you can’t make yourself get up super early everyday try to get up at the same time every day. If you feel like your sleep schedule is really out of whack try taking a low dose of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is found naturally in your body that helps regulate your sleep schedule.
Spend Time with Friends
I know how hard it can be to make plans with friends when you feel like crap. When I’m struggling I become extremely introverted and barely want to talk to anyone. However, I find that spending time with my friends almost always makes me feel better. Make an effort to spend time with the most positive and funny people that you know. If your friend doesn’t live near you make an effort to call them and talk on the phone.
No matter how shitty and unfair things are there’s ALWAYS someone who has it worse. When I’m feeling down about small things I try to remember that to give me perspective. 99% of the time when I’m complaining about something I really have nothing to be upset about in the grand scheme of things. Think about the good things you have in your life and realize that plenty of people in the world would be overjoyed to have your problems.
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