I decided to put this post together mainly because I love reading this kind of content on other people’s blogs.
I find it motivating to read advice on how to stay positive and deal with stress and it’s always reassuring to know that everyone goes through shit. It makes me feel a little less alone and keeps me focused on improving myself.
In the interest of being honest (which was one of my New Year’s resolutions), I’m gonna tell you a little something about myself that I absolutely NEVER talk about. I struggle, or have struggled rather, with anxiety. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive and Panic Attack Disorder when I was 19 and had psychiatric treatment for it for a couple of years. Following that, I tried a variety of therapies and remedies and through working very, very hard, I have managed to recover completely. I no longer have any symptoms of OCD and I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a panic attack.
Even though I still have down days, like everyone else on the planet, I’m generally very happy and positive and don’t feel like I have anything in my life to worry or complain about.
So, having made a full recovery, I think my advice on dealing with stress, anxiety or depression could be pretty useful. Although it was mostly down to my personal determination to change things, there were a few factors that really contributed to getting better. So, below I’m going to take you through some of my top tips and techniques along with how and why they worked.
10 Things I Do When I Feel Like Shit
1. Asking For Help
It’s important to first note that feeling down, or stressed or worried is not only normal, but it’s also necessary. Going through bad patches is part of the human experience. You learn so much more through rough times and if you don’t experience and deal with these periods, you won’t be able to grow.
That said, if you are feeling persistently down or anxious, seek help. Talk to friends and family members if you can, but most importantly, seek professional help. Mental illness, depression and anxiety are EXTREMELY common. So, not matter how much you feel like no one will understand, a doctor or therapist will. They’ve seen it all and will be able to provide you with the treatment you need.
As I said, when I was 19, I had treatment from a psychiatrist. I had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it was the first, crucial, step to getting better.
EFT is something which I believe fully cured my panic attacks. It’s not for everyone, and a lot of people think it’s a pile of New Age, woo-woo crap, but I think it can be super effective and it’s something that everyone should at least know about, even if you don’t intend to practice it.
Emotional Freedom Technique is an accupressure technique which involves using your fingertips to tap on meridian points on your head, face and chest area. By tapping specific points on your body, whilst repeating positive affirmation, you’re able to short circuit your brain. It’s used to treat negative emotions, physical pain and even food cravings. It’s kind of hard to describe, so if it sounds of interest, I would recommend researching it on YouTube.
Very similarly, I’m a big fan of Mindfulness. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s something I practice daily to keep me on the straight and narrow. Mindfulness involves focusing on living in the present moment and being very aware of the thoughts flowing through your brain.
The average human experiences around 60,000 thoughts every single day, so Mindfulness allows you to check-in and monitor those thoughts so you can see how they’re affecting your every day life. Mindfulness didn’t really work for me initially and when I eventually came back to it, about a year after discovering it, I came back with a renewed attitude and put in a lot of effort to make it work.
Going hand in hand with Mindfulness for me, is meditation. I meditate every single day and I do it because it makes me feel great. If you want to get started with meditation I would recommend going to a class. The energy and feeling from a room full of people helps you engage and it makes you feel less self-conscious because everyone’s in the same boat. There are classes in every town and city but if you’re in Belfast, I would definitely recommend Seventh Heaven. Kim, the teacher, is just the best. I’m always really put off classes like this when the teacher is a real New Age hippy type that smells like incense comes out their pores and talks like they’re from another planet. Kim is not like that at all. She’s super, duper down to earth and teaches in a way that makes meditation really accessible for anyone.
5. Podcasts and Books
To keep a positive mind set, it’s important to surround yourself with positive stimuli. Of all the things that help me when I’m just feeling shitty, this is the most simple and the most powerful. I walk a lot, so I listen to a lot of podcasts and when I’m having a crappy day, I like to listen to motivational podcasts. I would recommend Good Life Project, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and one of my favourite speakers, Gabrielle Bernstein has a few of her talks available on podcast too.
I also like listening to Ted Talks (because I’m a basic bitch) and I’m always reading a business book because I generally find that the type of people who write those books are incredibly positive by nature and their attitude is almost infectious.
I HATE when people recommend exercise to treat the likes of anxiety or depression. When you’re feeling shit, the last thing you want to do is go for a run or pump iron at the gym. You want to stay in bed and eat biscuits.
However, since discovering exercise somewhat recently, I’ve noticed that it’s had such an amazing influence on my mental state. I walk a lot, probably about 10km a day, but in the evenings I’ve started going for a short run (2km-3km) and I always feel amazing after. I have so much clarity and I feel like I’ve done something good for my body. Plus I burn off extra calories which means I can eat chocolate.
It is imperative that everyone has a hobby. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Just something that you enjoy doing, that you can pour your energy into and lets you take your mind off yourself for a moment. Whether it’s drawing, or knitting, or playing guitar or blogging, it’s great to have something that keeps you busy and gives you less time to overthink.
8. Social Media Ban
I love social media. It’s a huge part of my job and I love how it’s allowed me to meet new people and learn so much about the world around me. That said, it has its negative influences. For me, social media can be a bit of a trigger; especially Snapchat. Sometimes, I find that when I’m spending ages looking at everyone’s seemingly perfect life (their ‘highlight reels’), I start comparing myself and wishing I had their success, or their money, or their house, or friends or body or whatever.
I become a lot less appreciative of all the amazing things in my life and get quite grumpy and dissatisfied. Because of that, I have recently been trying to impose a ‘no phones after 8pm’ policy in my house. I’m in the early stages and finding it difficult but I’m certain that it will help.
9. Having A Dog
I know this isn’t a possibility for everyone, but if you’re considering getting a dog – do it! Not only is it just the best thing ever, but having a little creature that depends on you and loves you unconditionally makes you feel great. No matter how bad my day is, when I think of coming home to my excited puppy every day, it just makes me smile.
10. Give Yourself Worry Time
I dunno about you, but there are some nights (usually when PMS is looming) when I’m so worried about something stupid, that I can’t sleep. I have knots in my stomach, I feel panicky and it seems like the world is going to end. For me, it’s usually a work problem; something I’ve done wrong, or forgotten to do, etc.
When this happens, and I’m lying in bed with the ultimate fear, I say to myself “I am only allowed to worry about this if it actually happens”. I spend so much of my life worrying about things that never actually happen or turn out to be a lot less disastrous than I thought. And afterwards, I always say “Why did I spend so much time worrying about that?”.
Worrying does not change the outcome but it’s almost impossible to stop yourself from doing it. So, for that reason, I don’t tell myself that I’m not allowed to worry; I tell myself it’s ok to worry, but only if the thing I’m worried about actually happens.
And guess what? It never does happen.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these ’10 things I do when I feel like shit’ and I really hope that, if you’re struggling with anything right now, this has helped even just the slightest bit. And, as always, if you have any questions about this most, give me a shout.