Contrary to popular belief, it really is okay to not be okay. If you feel like you're struggling, comparing your life to other people's or simply just feelin' like you can't always get on top of things, this post, my friend, is for you.
In today's society, everyone is expected to be happy. This statement may be bold, but is it really that far from true? It seems that sadness is often seen as a sign of weakness, so we make the conscious choice to either disown that feeling or hide it. Shallow questions like 'how are you today?' are answered with the expected (and just as shallow) response 'Fine, thanks and you?'. Think about it, how many times have you asked, or been asked, this question and either expected or given an honest response? I can personally say, not many.
Rationally, we know that not everyone feels fantastic 100% of the time. But most people aren't very rational... most of the time. As a result, while you're hanging out in your own little bubble of overwhelm, it feels like everyone else is walking around on cloud nine. But that just isn't reality, it simply can't be, because as humans we ALL have ups and we ALL have downs. You aren't alone, and next time you're feeling low, please remember that you are not the only one feeling that way (no matter what your Instagram feed will have you believe).
Life Isn't A Highway
Sorry, Rascal Flats. Life isn't meant to be all easy highway driving. Excuse the over-used metaphor, but life really is more like a roller coaster than a simple Sunday drive. It's one of those roller coasters you know will test your fears but be so damn fun that you line up with the crowds for an hour to try it out anyway. In fact, it's one of those great roller coasters that simultaneously makes you want to scream, laugh, throw up and cry, all at once. Humans really are weird.
Life will inherently have ups and downs - nothing stays up all the time, just the same as nothing stays down. Just as the good times and highs don't last, neither do the lows. It's simply part of being human. Things move on, feelings pass and emotions ebb and flow. Next time you're feeling a little low, try to remind yourself that 'this too will pass'. Because it will, I promise you. Have you ever felt an emotion that didn't pass on? Granted, it may have hung around longer than you would have liked, but I can bet it always passed.
Let Yourself Feel It
An emotion (whether that be negative or positive) tends to last for around 90 seconds. Whether you connect a story to that emotion determines whether you carry that feeling around for longer than it needs. Notice how you're feeling, accept it, take care of yourself and then just let it pass. Don't connect any assumptions or opinions around your negative feelings. Accept them for what they are; a simple part of being human; simple feelings that will move on if you let them.
If you're feeling down, take time for yourself, don't try to push those feelings away, accept them and move through them. If you notice that you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed try to get into the habit of noticing those feelings rather than just running around on overdrive, stressing yourself out more. Notice the feeling (whatever that may be), remind yourself that 'this too will pass', and then give yourself the time and space you need to let it pass. Accept that you won't feel fantastic all the time rather than beating yourself up for being a little down or stressed sometimes.
Be honest with yourself and others. If you aren't feeling great don't hide behind a fake smile, own it. The more people who get real about their emotions, the less stigma will be connected to being anything less than perfectly (or imperfectly) happy. Relationships become less shallow when you open up to people. Not only will being honest with your friends and family help you to cope, it will help THEM too to realise that it's okay to not be okay. Let's break the cycle; break that stigma.
Go one step further and ask your mate, your colleague, your Mum, your Dad, ask the cashier at your corner store if you like, how they are feeling today. Ask it sincerely and when they, in turn, ask how you are, answer them with honesty.
Shake It Off
The infamous words of Tay Tay - shake it off. If things are starting to get a little heavy, try to find a few coping mechanisms that work for you and help you to move through your feelings in a healthy way. Maybe this looks like going for a walk and getting out in nature, maybe it looks like a warm cuppa and good book, maybe it means turning the music up full volume and having a solo dance party in your kitchen, maybe it simply means placing your hand on your chest and telling yourself you'll be ok. Find whatever works for you; whatever makes you feel good and do that, do it lots!
Keeping an active, healthy lifestyle really works wonders for your mental health. Forget about shedding kilos or fitting into those skinny jeans; that stuff is overrated. Work out and eat right for your mental health, use exercise as a release and make your health and fitness a priority (just as it should be).
Ask For Help When You Need It
If you are feeling down or overwhelmed for long periods or to a point where you feel like you won't ever feel happy again, seek help. Whether it be the help of a friend or family member, or health care professional, speak to someone about how you're feeling. There are a bunch of online tools that have helped plenty of people through periods of depression and anxiety, we'll provide the links to these sites below: