1. The thing you’re upset about is probably not the thing you’re upset by. You can handle a lot–when you reach your limit, there’s probably a big pile of upsetting things that got you there. The one you’re thinking about is just the one on top. The one you should be trying to fix is the biggest one, and it’s usually closer to the bottom of the pile than the top.
2. A tiny bit of progress is better than none at all. Healing and coping isn’t an all-or-nothing situation. If you’re too depressed to take a shower, but you can manage to brush your teeth, great! You don’t have to do the full program for it to be a success. Maybe tomorrow you’ll shower instead, or you’ll just freshen up at the sink. You can’t manage to do a full 45 min yoga flow, but you can do the 10 mins of light stretching? Great! Any physical activity is better than none. Etc.
3. You’re allowed to cut toxic people out of your life. Even if you’ve known them a long time, or are related to them… even if you’re married to them. Removing them creates a void that will pull in supportive and healthy people faster than you think.
4. It is OK to use sick time to take a day for yourself. I was in a high-stress job; came to find that calling in sick once every two months to have a day to myself saved me from repeatedly being actually sick.
5. Learning breathing tips to help when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed is a good first step. Won’t solve any underlying problems, therapy would probably be best for that. But in the meantime, learning some breathing techniques A) gives you something to focus on and ground you to the reality outside of your mind and B) has actual physical benefits for your brain that help relieve stress and anxiety.
6. You aren’t responsible for others’ happiness. Always be there for your loved ones and support them however you can, but you can do everything right and still not be able to help/fix someone. If someone is drowning, throw them all the life preservers you can find, but don’t swim out and join them or you’ll soon find yourself drowning right alongside them.
7. When you’re wanting advice, think of what you would tell a friend if they were in that situation. Feeling worthless and alone? You wouldn’t tell a friend “well of course you are, look at you!” You’d try to make them feel better. You can do that for yourself too.
8. Take anything that is stressing you out and break it apart. Can it be broken up into multiple pieces? How can you dissect this problem to solve it efficiently? A lot of the time people get so worked up and in their own heads that they stress about the problem before it’s something they actually need to deal with.
This is weird because they are technically existing in the future while physically living in the present. This only leads to stress and anxiety because you can’t actually fix the problem and you spend your time worrying.
Instead, take the problem or issue you’re up against and make it as small as possible. Fear usually comes from the unknown and the only way to get over that is to immerse yourself into why the problem exists and what if anything you can do now to fix it. If the answer is nothing then you’re better off letting it go until you can.
9. If you aren’t making progress or you don’t like how your therapist works with you, GIVE THEM THAT FEEDBACK. Be transparent about your experience of meeting with them, and try not to worry about hurting their feelings. As a mental health professional, I wish more clients would advocate for themselves in this way. Also, if it isn’t working out with your current therapist, don’t just give up – find a new one. Don’t settle for working with someone who you don’t connect with.
10. You should curate your “viewing diet.” What you spend your time watching online affects your mental health. You should avoid media you know is actively harming you.
11. Low vitamin D3 levels can exacerbate depression, so get some sunshine / take a supplement.
12. A lot of people view the breaking of a clean streak as essentially being sent back to square one which can lead to them being actually sent back to square one rather than the minor blip that it really is. Just because the sobriety timer is at 5 minutes doesn’t mean the last five days/weeks/months/years didn’t happen.
13. Worried about what other people think of you? People aren’t thinking about the things that you worry they are thinking about. Not as much, anyway. Everyone is too busy with their own lives and ironically, worrying about what others think about them.
14. Meditate. Regardless of what people think about it, it helps you stay focused. It also helps to clear your mind and get a better connection to emotions, if you do it right.
15. Water… Drink plenty every day.
16. Do small new things every day if you feel like life is monotonous. For example, eat on your balcony today, read a magazine, watch a new YouTuber, put on an outfit just to stay inside, etc. All of these are small but they can really change your days and even make you feel productive! Learned that from personal experience.
17. If someone is sharing something bad with you and you find yourself tempted to say “at least ____” to try to put a positive spin on it, don’t do it. It feels like the right thing to do but generally, it’s just gonna make them feel not heard. Stick to “oh man that sucks. I’m sorry that’s happened to you” or similar.
18. SLEEP is unbelievably important for your mental health. A consistent sleep schedule will make working through shit possible.
19. Turn off the news. It’s good to know what’s happening around you, but if you recognize the main feeling after a news round-up is negative, take a break.
20. Alcohol can give you anxiety or make your anxiety worse.
21. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly rather than not at all. Brushing your teeth for two minutes is too long? Try 20 seconds. Making a sandwich too much? Eat the sandwich components instead of making one.
22. Try to have compassion for those directing anger at you rather than getting angry yourself. It sounds weird but if you instantly feel sorry for them it really changes the situation. As a monk once told me, everyone has a road they walked to get to where they are. And that road wasn’t always filled with joy and happiness. It made me realize that when people get angry it’s not you, it’s them. They are unable to control their emotions and it usually stems from that road. So I learned to have compassion instead of responding negatively.
23. “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.” I saw this on Reddit many years ago and it had a particular resonance, especially with the current obsession with posting all our achievements online where others can measure themselves against us.
24. Do things that combat what’s making you depressed. For example, I get super depressed by climate change news. I now avoid that kind of news but also spend time trying to fix the issue. I live a zero-waste lifestyle, I educate others, I did wildland firefighting to help, and I invest in environmental companies. Every little thing I do to help helps me indirectly.
25. If you had a weird dream, you wouldn’t obsess over it, you’d just let it go. Do the same with your thoughts.
26. Keep a journal, even an audio one. Most of the time all you need to do is to manifest your thoughts to enhance your awareness of your feeling.
27. Acknowledge your feelings, pay attention to them and figure out what caused them. Are you feeling anxious? Why? What caused it? Was it because you were late to work today? Or maybe are you actually always feeling anxious? If you imagine X disappearing, do you feel less anxious? What about Y? Am I being rude to this person because I’m anxious?
It could be anxiety, or depression, but also happiness, fear, anger, or whatever. Feelings have a reason, they’re what control our behavior and have deep evolutionary origins, this is not just some hippy new-age idea. If we learn to listen to them we can also learn where did they come from and how they affect our lives.
It takes a lot of time and it’s really, really difficult. Sometimes you’re mad at something and just want to forget about it, but it’s better to just sit down for a moment and focus on it, feel that painful thing inside you and understand what is it and why it’s there. And then you can act on it and cause true, meaningful improvements to your life and wellbeing. Otherwise, it will always be somewhere in your head waiting to hurt you.
Difficult as fuck. Changed my life.
28. Seriously, make sure you surround yourself with people who care about you. Regardless of how fun your friends are at the time, if they don’t take time to ask you “how are you” or “how are you feeling” then they aren’t working in your best interest.
29. Exercise is good for you but it doesn’t have to come with the aim of getting thin or toned or something like that. Moving, whether it be walking or dancing or weights or whatever is great for your brain. It doesn’t have to hurt.
30. Don’t take criticism from anyone you wouldn’t go to for advice.