Three Simple, Healthy Ways to Support Yourself When Feeling Down
Life involves both happiness and sadness. We all feel the full range of emotions while we are alive, and sometimes situations feel so difficult, it's crushing. As humans, we can feel like the weight of our own lives, mistakes, the lives of those we feel responsible for, or even the entire world is bearing down on us and we can feel...
Stuck. As if our feet are made of bricks, and we can't move forward, or are having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.
Isolated. Like we're suffering in solitude, like we're the only ones, the un-chosen, the forgotten.
Anxious. Worried about a future we can't control or agonizing over a past we can't change.
Or many other emotions.
During times like this, it is important to recognize when we need support and give it to ourselves. You live with you 24/7, and ultimately you are your own responsibility. That can sound scary but it can also be empowering as you realize that you have the power to lift yourself up. These practices will be useful to different people at different stages of being upset, but all of them are extremely useful for moving through your emotions instead of stuffing them down.
Here are three simple, healthy, and sustainable ways to support yourself when you're feeling down:
1. Accept that you're upset and decide that it's okay to feel.
One of the worst ways to truly recover emotionally is to try to force yourself to "get over" something too soon just because you feel like you should be. Giving yourself the grace to breathe, cry, go for a walk, pig out on ice cream, etc. will allow you to experience your own natural process. Judging yourself for being human and experiencing emotions will only make you feel worse.
One way that I practice accepting myself is to affirm out loud that I love myself and it's okay for me to be sad. I tell myself, "You are allowed to be human and I love you." Hearing your own voice will also soothe you. This is a beautiful way to begin showing yourself support if you previously haven't. If what I say to myself doesn't sound right to you, you can make it your own. You know what you need to hear to release judgement and feel the acceptance and love of yourself.
Learning is an extremely healthy way to cope with feeling upset because it gives your mind something productive to do. When we experience an event that upsets us, we often try to rationalize why. Some events have no rationalization, such as a sick family member or a car accident. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to understand what we did, what we could've done differently, what other people did...our minds love to make sense of things but that can be detrimental when our endless analyzing just causes us to focus on the event, even when we want to feel better.
Watching a video about a subject you're interested in, reading an article, or even taking a class on something you've always wanted to try will help your brain to concentrate on new information and spend energy making those connections. You're giving your brain a problem that you can solve, or at least understand, which will satisfy you, and provide some distraction. Then, when you've distanced yourself from your issue, you might have different insights when you think of it again. This is a good way to introduce a new perspective and stop repetitive cycles of worrying.
3. Spend time in person with a friend who you feel completely secure and loved around.
There are several reasons why this works. When you are with people who love and appreciate you for who you are, you can relax. If you've been struggling lately, you have likely been experiencing a significant amount of stress. If you're stressed out, spending time in a new place will help you experience new thoughts; less stressful thoughts.
Meeting up with a friend also satisfies the natural need for connection. You may not realize it, but many times when you experience issues, you isolate yourself in your mind. We tend to get sucked into our own dramas, seeing them through a telescope. We then feel the pain of the original event and the pain of loneliness that comes from focusing on our issues. Of course, take time to yourself to process your pain. But at a certain point, you can question whether being alone is good for you.
Now, you may be thinking that this is not a form of self-support. It actually is if you are the one asking for it. You can support yourself by recognizing that visiting with a friend would make you feel better and reaching out. Then, your friend can show support by accepting the invitation. Expressing your needs and desires is a form of supporting yourself, and will invite those who you contact into an even closer relationship with you. It's good for both of you - you get to feel supported and your friend gets to feel like a good friend. Win/win
Have you tried any of these methods for supporting yourself through difficult times? Did they help you feel better? Please leave a comment about it :). If you have your own method for moving through difficult emotions, share below as well.