#HAWMC Day 26: Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes, the type of day we have is out of our control, but other times, we can influence how our day is going. Come up with 5 tips for changing your frame of mind when you’re having a bad day!
1. Talk to someone. Doesn't have to be a therapist. Maybe a good friend that knows what you’re going through, or a loved one who will just let you talk without judgement. Or perhaps a support group – my online support group did wonders for me this week. Hell, talk to your dog. Cry it out, let them look at you with those unconditionally loving eyes as you pet them. A caveat here: make sure to choose carefully. Someone who’s going to offer empty platitudes like “it will all be ok” but has never actually been where you are is not helpful when you want the world to disappear. Similarly, there are people who are great with advice, but when I just need to vent about how much the day/my condition/whatever sucks, I don't want a detailed and chronological list of all of exactly how to fix the situation (I realize that this an ironic contrast to the theme of this blog). I'm not looking for a solution in that moment. I'm looking for empathy and a caring arm around my shoulder.
2. Write it out. I often find I don’t want to talk to ANYONE. If that’s the case, I write. It doesn't have to be even about how I’m feeling. That helps, of course, but for me, working on my novel or just thinking out loud, via my pen and paper, is soothing. As I've explained before, it gets me out of my head, which is exactly where I need to be on a depressive day. If you’re not a writer, drawing, painting (finger painting!) making collages, photographing, or any other artistic pursuit can help channel the energy into something else.
3. Get the hell out of dodge. Go for a walk, a drive, take a (literal) mental health day and get away from the atmosphere that’s causing you so much frustration/hurt/pain/anger, etc. *Another caveat: obviously if you physically can’t, this won’t work. Also, of course be mindful of the medications you've taken and your state of mind. If you feel you’re unsafe to drive, please, don’t do so.
4. Ground yourself. Take off your shoes and walk through the grass or the sand (play therapy with sand is amazing!), weather permitting. If you can’t - or would rather not - do this, try a grounding meditation or yoga can be a huge help. Even just lying down listening to actual or app-inspired nature sounds can be helpful.
5. Help someone else. One of the most cathartic parts of my online mood disorders support group is helping others. I know this sounds like a bunch of warm fuzzy stuff, but it’s true. There are times I’ll go on to post my own struggle and start reading what others have written. I’ll begin replying to and conversing with them, and eventually, I sign out of the group, forgetting that I never posted my own troubles. To be clear, I do not support the “starving children in Africa” theory, which is to say that others have it worse so you shouldn't feel so bad. You should be allowed to have bad days, even if you aren't the sickest, most alone, unluckiest person in the world. Otherwise, how could you have a good day if you aren't the luckiest, happiest, person in the world? No, you’re allowed to be upset and sad and frustrated and have a shitty day and admit it, because you have some shitty-ass days and sometimes life isn't fair. But it’s not the comparison that makes me feel better when I help others. It’s the ability to do something nice for someone, the feeling of giving back or paying it forward. Because when I’m having a really out of control day, that does give me some control over something – the ability to make someone’s day even the tiniest bit better.
One of the things I love most about the blogging community is hearing others' tips and advice. So feel free to share away!