Today was a bad day. I cried all morning because everything felt wrong. I then glanced at the time only to realise that my article was due in less than 8 hours, and I still didn’t have a clue as to what to write about. So, I started to rack my brain for article ideas. Skincare routines, fashion tips and DIYs fleeted by, but I dismissed them as quickly as they cropped up. A few minutes ago, the darkest thoughts had been wreaking havoc in my mind. My brain felt like my washing machine on its spinning cycle. And, now, here I was trying to manufacture feel-good content. Moments like this, they make me feel like a hypocrite towards the world. So, I decided to write about this instead — About the fact that I was having a terrible day. Because everyone has them, and it can leave us feeling lost and helpless. There should be a more honest conversation around how to deal with shitty days, so here’s mine.
Be your own friend
A friend can be a source of great comfort when you’re going through something difficult, but it’s not always easy to find someone to confide in. In situations like this, get yourself a notebook (or open your notes app) and don’t hold anything in. Just write it down as it comes. You don’t have to read it afterwards (unless you want to), and you can easily destroy all evidence later. Writing can often be cathartic. It provides a sense of release and helps you understand what you’re going through better. No one should have your best interests in mind more than yourself, so be your own friend by listening to your feelings. Trying to find a rational solution to get you out of this lousy phase can also help, but just lending yourself a friendly ear is already a giant step towards betterment.
Getting away from the situation at hand can help with attenuating pain. If right now is too much, walk away. It’s not a permanent fix as, sooner or later, you’ll have to come back and address the problem. But, minimising the stress and anxiety that unexpected situations put us through can certainly help. If physically getting away is not an option, a book or film are also forms of escapism. Eschewing unbearable incidents at work is difficult, but re-focusing your mind on learning a new skill, doing a task you’ve been putting off or reading a white paper can be the escape you need. Running away from your problems has never been a permanent solution (any grown-up adult will tell you so), but when you feel like you’ve reached breaking point, putting some distance between you and that situation can feel immensely relieving.
Don’t meditate on it
Often, I’ll read about how meditation, yoga or practising stillness can help with dealing with internal turmoil. I agree that these are excellent methods of self-exploration and that they can be hugely beneficial towards a healthy mind. But, when you’re having a bad day, staying still can often heighten your awareness of this terrible mental state you’re in. Distracting yourself by doing something physical (a run, kickboxing, jumping, cleaning etc.) will exhaust your body, which is sometimes what your mind needs to shut off during a time where your train of thoughts is causing you a lot of pain.
Sometimes emotional pain is physical
Our minds and bodies are unquestionably interconnected. When I’m having a bad (mental) day, my entire body will start hurting, including my face. I know. It’s extreme. My eye sockets, head, neck, shoulders and back start to feel as heavy as lead. My jaw is clenched, my throat is tight, my temples are throbbing, and I’ve never been more aware of the space between my eyebrows and my eyes.
Emotional pain can be strenuous. If you need some painkillers, take them. For me, because my muscles get so tense, I like to do some “steam inhalation”. I get a bowl of boiling water, add a few drops of oregano oil, grab a towel, and steam the heck out of my face for a good 10 minutes. When I resurface, I feel like a different person.
Warmth is a great pain soother. A hot cup of Earl Grey is like an internal hug. Think of your favourite beverage, a hot water bottle, or, if it’s really awful, a duvet day. I have a duvet day maybe once every two months, and I refuse to feel guilty about it. My body and my mind need it.
Understand that justice is not always IRL
Since a very young age, we are conditioned to believe (through fiction books and films) that, in the end, the good guy always wins and that injustice will never prevail. We take those notions into adulthood, and needless to say, this doesn’t always happen in real life. I’ve learnt this at my own misfortunes. I’m not saying you shouldn’t fight for justice, equality and kindness, but sometimes you need to let go of what is hurting you for your own wellbeing. Being able to choose your battles wisely and knowing when to quit are all important lessons that we learn as we grow up and face shit. We also need to learn to accept that not everything will go right and whether we’ve achieved our dreams or not, a part of us will always have to deal with negative feelings – it comes as a non-negotiable bundle.
Your hormones play an essential role in how you feel, which is why “that time of the month” can be especially hard. If you feel moody or depressed for seemingly no particular reason, I highly recommend that you watch this video about endocrine disruptors from Dr Berg. Some of the all-time lows of your life will suddenly make scientific sense. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but a healthy diet and lifestyle can seriously affect your mental wellbeing, so take good care of your body.
I know, it’s in complete contradiction with the above. Take this one with a pinch of salt. Fact is, comfort food releases endorphins which can help combat the blues. It’s hard to cry with a mouth full of crisps (trust me, I’ve tried). This is not to say you need to eat junk food every time you feel slightly stressed or unhappy or depressed. There is a difference between an unhealthy relationship with food and a pick-me-up.
Go to your happy place
Think of your happiest moments and believe, truly believe, that you’ll have similar experiences again. Close your eyes and let your mind wander back to those beautiful memories. Whatever is hurting you right now, a malfunctioning relationship, a negative work environment, or just waking up on the wrong foot, you’ll move past it. There will be better days. Future Tense.