Monday 23 January
January is a hard month for us all, and a time when we often feel low and need a pick-me-up. Over the last few weeks I haven’t felt like myself – I’ve been unmotivated, feeling low, and distracting myself from my feelings. Self-care has been low on the priorities list. So, it’s time to pick myself back up.
Here is a list of things that help me (and could also help you) through this time and get back on my feet. A thing to remember is that we are all unique and sometimes these minuscule things serve nothing to help with our low mood. These low moods aren’t permanent; everything is temporary. The quote “this too shall pass” is vital to keep in mind, even when we feel like this feeling is not ephemeral.
- Start slow. You can’t change over night. Yes, every day is a chance to start over, but sometimes you need a little more time to pick yourself back up. Everything takes time.
- Get up early. It’s easy to stay in bed, under the warm duvet, and not want to face the world. This can be the hardest thing to do but we have to do the thing that scares us the most first, right? It’s like when you have a pile of school work to do, the best advice is to tackle (at least attempt to start) the big essay first, because when you’ve finished or started that, all the other tasks seem much easier. That’s the same here – rip the band aid off and get out of bed. That’s a start, even if that’s all you do that day.
- Get outside. Even during Winter when the sun isn’t shining, time outside is nourishing for your mind, body and soul. Fresh air helps with a low mood. I know it’s cold and rainy at the moment, but even just ten minutes outside helps.
- Movement. Walks, low impact exercise, these really help. It can be hard to motivate yourself to do a full-on workout in the gym so, again, start small. There are so many adverts for gyms and workout programmes at the moment, which can be triggering or just annoying when you’re not doing those things. Try your best to ignore them. Whilst everyone else is working on their “dream bodies”, you’re working on your mental health. Both are ok. We need to learn to prioritise ourselves more and not feel guilty for doing so. But exercise does help, just simple movement each day.
- Find something you enjoy doing again. Get excited for a new hobby or activities that you once enjoyed. This adds a little dopamine to your life – something that makes you happy. It could be as simple as reading, drawing, even watching Netflix.
- On that note, try to reduce your screen time. It can be so easy to fall into the TikTok spiral, or watching TV all day. I do it too. It’s my downtime. I also watch Netflix whilst working and studying (I am doing that whilst writing this post right now!) Social media makes us compare and often feel low about ourselves. It’s fun and offers life hacks and fun advice, but sometimes it does more damage than good. Have a think about how you use your social media time and see if it has more advantages than disadvantages. You might really enjoy social media and watching funny cat videos, and that’s ok.
- Talk to people. Friends, family, therapists. Find out why you’re feeling this way. You can even talk to yourself through journalling, but I find talking to others really helps as it puts things into perspective – right now, a lot of people are feeling this way. You can use others to help you feel better.
- Healthy eating. I hate going on about diets and what we “should” or “should not” eat, but here a well-balanced plate does help. When I’m low, I want to eat snacks all day and chocolate. Although that helps in the moment, with my mindset, I often feel guilty about it afterwards. Of course embrace the cravings and eat those things, but remember the wonders of wholefoods and eating the rainbow!
- Pamper yourself. Get back on that self-care. Have a bath with a glass of wine, with a facemask on and your favourite feel-good movie. Do things for yourself.
- Finally, allow yourself to feel. Embrace the funk. It will not last forever. When we learn why we are feeling this way (even if the answer is just “it’s winter, it’s cold, I have lots of assignments due, I have no money”), we can understand what can help.
We all feel low. It doesn’t last forever. If we find ways of coping and getting ourselves back up, and have these coping mechanisms at hand for the next time it happens, we can learn to ride the wave and that we will come out of it stronger.
A last tip. Keep these coping mechanisms in a jar on your bedside table. Write out activities and things that make you feel good and happy on little post-it notes, fold them up, and pop them in. The next time you’re feeling low, you can go back to this jar and find things that may help. If these things don’t help straightaway, that’s ok. Sometimes it takes us longer to get through pain. And remember, we are all unique. I hope this helps!
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