A lot of the time as a teenager we ask or hear this question: how am I supposed to stay happy when I’m going through a rough patch? It’s a very difficult question, too. Sometimes it is almost impossible to keep your head above water when there’s something – a big weight – trying to drag you under. That’s deep but at least it’s honest. But there is a big emphasis on the almost. Read these tips and ideas on how to remain positive, maybe not ‘happy’, during times where you feel like you can’t cope any more.
I am not saying that there’s one particular way to be ‘happy’. Hell, I’m not even saying that everyone can be positive all the time, especially when they have hit an all time low. This post is really about how to prevent that ‘hitting rock-bottom’ moment from happening in the first place, by maintaining a PMA (positive mental attitude). Yes, I agree that sometimes you just want to curl up in your bed and not move for days, because you feel that low, or you simply have had enough of the drama and lies in your life. But here’s some ideas that I have gathered for you to help you along the process.
1. Make sure that you are taking care of yourself.
There is no way that you can truly be positive and ‘happy’ without taking time out for self-care and self-love, evaluating your self-worth and appreciating yourself for who you are. Figure out who you are. This may be a daunting process/discovery for a good chunk of people reading this, but we all go through it. Sometimes it takes you months to understand who you really are: your personality, your soul, even your life goals. Eventually you will reach it if you haven’t, don’t panic! Set aside half-an-hour in the evening to think about yourself and how you are feeling. Put down what ever device you are watching Netflix or Youtube on. Tidy away your study books and pens and paper. Lie down on your bed or in your bath or do something you really enjoy, something you want to do for yourself – for me that’s doing a daily workout or hockey, or writing my blog/short stories. Schedule it in to your mental (or physical) timetable and don’t cross it out if you hit a busy period at school or at work. Find time to do your homework or meet up with your friends around your ‘me-time’ because you and your mental health come first, above anyone else.
This is the first step to holding onto the positivity throughout harder times when/if you ever have them. Know who you are and know your depths in order to swim out of the deep end safely (hopefully with minimal cuts and bruises).
2. Find the positivity in each negative moment.
This could be a very scary thing for most of you, because our brains are trained to immediately jump to the worst-case-scenario instead of dealing with the problems mechanically first. This is because we live in such a sheltered bubble in the ‘First World’, where minuscule problems feel like the end of the world. Sometimes we need to learn to just stop, take a step back and actually ask “is this problem worth stressing about? Will this damage me or anyone else around me?”
I understand that it may be hard to find a positive outcome in certain situations, because sometimes there may not be any. But try, really hard to find something positive to hold on to if you feel yourself slipping into a negative whirlwind. In most circumstances, however, there will be a positive. You just have to find it. Before crying or breaking down about something, think really hard to latch on to the good things.
3. Don’t stress about the little things.
We can’t control everything. One of the many flaws of a human being is the desire to want everything to go to plan and we get upset if this doesn’t happen. We have all been there. If you’re getting anxious about a small 10 mark vocabulary test in your language lesson or stressed about a silly little presentation, don’t! It’s easy to let everything consume you and let all the little things build up to cause a heap of stress. Boil the kettle and sit down, make a list of what needs doing, and breathe.
4. Do lots of exercise.
I recommend talking a 20-30 minute walk each day, whether that’s outside or on a treadmill. Exercise in general helps boost serotonin and generally makes you feel amazing. However, doing too much exercise or doing it for toxic reasons (ie, not doing it for yourself) can lead to further problems so it is vital to get this balance right.
5. Stay hydrated and eat healthy.
So many teenagers who claim to be unhappy are typically not eating the right foods. Crisps, dips, chocolates and fizzy drinks/soda. Eat everything in moderation, is what I go by. If you crave a chocolate bar, have one, just don’t out-do it. Have your 5 a day and eat a lot of vegetables – they are so good! If you struggle to drink water, always take a bottle round with you and make notes of how many glasses you’ve drank so far today.
I’m not saying you have to only eat fruits and salads all day long. Just ensure you are keeping to a healthy diet – but not restricting yourself – and to moderate portions. Healthy foods give you longer term ‘happiness’ results whereas the joy of a Big Mac will only give you momentary happiness until you feel sick and bloated for the rest of the day 10 minutes after eating it.
6. Be mindful of who you spend time with.
It’s easy to stay in the same friendship group all the way through high school, for example, because it’s safe, and no one tells you that it’s ok to move on from those people if you no longer feel happy there. Well, here’s me telling you that it is completely and utterly OK. Everyone changes, especially during high school and through puberty. Break away from those people who make you feel bad about yourself or unhappy in general. Remember to always look out for yourself first: it is OK to be selfish in life (sometimes).
7. Smile, smile, smile!
Fun fact: fake smiling in the mirror at yourself actually tricks your brain into thinking you’re genuinely smiling and will release extra serotonin, meaning it’s a win-win! The term ‘fake it til you make it’ here does work, but please don’t use that for feeling happy on a wider, long-term scale. Wake up smiling even on days you don’t want to, because from the moment you get out of bed, your levels of serotonin will be lifted and your moral will be boosted too. Keep smiling!
My main message would be just focus on yourself. If you feel like you’re going down a difficult path, take a step back and take a good look at who you are going down that path with. If they don’t make you happy, pull yourself back from them and focus on what makes you you.
Happiness is an odd thing and we all have our own definitions and extents of it. None of us truly know if we can ever reach full happiness, but let’s start with making that our number one goal as we move into 2021, leaving behind the lows of 2020 and starting fresh❤️❤️