Picking yourself up is probably one of the hard things in life. It is in the nature of life for it to be unexpected. To have curveballs throwing you off course. For things to not go to plan.
As the average 20-something growing in the UK, I can pretty much share many of the issues that people have struggled with. As a second generation British-Pakistani, living in one of the poorest boroughs in London the odds were already stacked against me since birth.
I always felt this intense pressure growing up to exceed in life. My dad would often recall how he was treated so poorly in the 80s when he used to work because of his background, the way he looked and his accent. He wanted me to defy the odds and excel. As the eldest sibling and only daughter, I placed this pressure on myself. You can imagine what happened next. The need to be perfect and control every aspect of life led to my eating disorder and an ‘all or nothing’ mindset which caused me to develop severe anxiety and low mood.
What does this feel like? I guess the feeling of low mood is subjective and specific to the person feeling that way. I often describe it as though you have this haze or fog, or even a cloud that is hanging over your head and clogging your mind. For those who have experienced driving through a thick fog, it feels just like that. But instead your mind is full of it, and you’re trying to make sense of something you can’t quite understand yourself.
I also grew up observing many around me struggling with depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder and anxiety. I guess this is where my curiosity for mental health and psychology began. So I could see how others coped and how others just merely stayed afloat.
I have found the fog or cloud to hang over me for as long as I can remember. Most of the time the fog isn’t as thick, and I can go about my day to day life and tasks. But other times, it’s like as if that’s all I can see, but that’s okay. The fog does pass eventually.
Below are some of my coping strategies, and many that I often go back to when in need. I hope these inspire you to also pick yourself up when needed.
“…you’re trying to make sense of something you can’t quite understand yourself…”
Thoughts to paper
One of the most important and effective things I have found is to journal. Simply writing down how I feel at that moment in time really helps me put my thoughts into order. You will be surprised at how much it really helps you to understand your thoughts.
When making decisions in life I have always found myself coming up with ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ lists. As cliché as it sounds, its really helped me when I’ve been clouded with doubt.
Writing a journal is also a great way of reflecting back on the past. It feels so good to look back on a moment where you felt so stuck and yet here you are in the future, continuing to thrive; a testament to your journey. I don’t think anything could beat such a feeling.
In fact, this blog was initially created so that I could have a place to let off steam and share my experience of depression.
Any kind of movement is necessary when all you want to do is to just stay in bed all day. In the first lockdown I found myself struggling to find the motivation to do things I used to enjoy.
I used to get really down thinking that I had to make sure I did a 30 minute workout regularly or else it didn’t count and I was a failure. I needed to skip for 5 minutes straight or nothing. This ‘all or nothing’ mindset led to several failures during my fitness journey. The most important thing to remember is that some exercise is better than none. Whether you go for a 5 minute walk, engage in 1 minute of yoga or decide to walk to the shop rather than drive. Everything adds up.
Breaking the cycle of staying sedentary can really help boost your mood. As we get closer to summer, going out for walks, cycling, skipping or simply just admiring the spring can really help.
It is also important to do the mundane tasks and to have a consistent routine during your day. For example, always making sure that you wake up and make the bed can instantly set your day off on a positive note.
Check Your Environment
People who do not make you feel good, constantly question or criticise you, never support you and always have something bad to say are energy leeches. We will continue to cross paths with such people. There will always be people that have something to say, just remember to listen to those that really matter to you.
What you consume on social media is also something to keep in mind. It is one thing to follow people to motivate you, but it’s another thing to constantly feel pressured and shame yourself by comparing yourself to social media influencers. It’s easy to lose perspective, dehumanise influencers and forget the fact that people only showcase the good that happens in their lives online. Bad news doesn’t sell or attract brand deals therefore everyone puts on a brave face in front of the camera.
Listening to podcasts have been really helpful in my self-care journey, I’d be really interested to hear of any of your suggestions so please leave a comment at end of this post.
You can also listen to my blog as a podcast below:
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