If you find yourself wondering if everything will go wrong in 2020, you are far from alone. This year has seen more than its share of heartache, and it isn’t over yet. Help may never arrive — how can you keep going?
It’s challenging to stay strong when everything seems to be going wrong. While the tips below are no substitute for professional care, financial and other circumstances don’t always make seeking treatment an option. These 10 self-care practices may keep you from capsizing when the seas grow rocky.
1. Take a Deep Breath
Many times, you grow anxious from future fears, not from what’s happening at present. When negative possibilities loom large, it can seem impossible to divorce yourself from thoughts like, “I’m going to lose my home.”
One way to center yourself in the present and regain perspective is to focus on your breath. Try 2-to-1 breathing, where you exhale for twice as long as you inhale. This process activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which tells your body to calm down.
2. Learn to HALT
Anytime you feel negative, you can use the HALT technique to identify whether physical sensations contribute to your mood. HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. While the method won’t chase your problems away, it can help you practice necessary self-care.
Think of the Snickers commercial — you’re not you when you’re hungry or stressed to the limit. Take the cue, and while you may want a healthier snack than a chocolate bar, address your needs. Write a letter you never plan to send to manage anger or take a nap if you’re tired.
3. Outline What You Can Control
Uncertainty. Does any word in the English language induce such mingled terror and exasperation? As tired as you may be of the term, it continues to abound.
Write a list of what you can control. You can’t prevent layoffs — but you can dust off your resume. You can’t force your landlord not to sell — but you can investigate more affordable housing options that will let you save cash and get back on your feet.
4. Let Go of Things You Can’t
If you’re a parent, you probably heard Elsa sing “Let It Go” roughly 1,432,634 times. Why not take that icy princess up on her advice?
You can use mindfulness techniques to let go of those things you can’t control. Once you shrug the weight of trying to change something that you really can’t off your shoulders, you can devote more energy to those you can influence.
5. Nourish Your Body Well
Science has discovered a link between your intestinal microflora and your mood. Specifically, alterations in your intestine’s bacterial composition can influence mental disorders, autism and Parkinson’s disease. When you eat the wrong combinations of foods, you throw your microbiome, or system of gut organisms, out of whack.
What you eat can, therefore, make you feel worse — or better. Try to avoid foods containing processed flour, as manufacturing strips away vital nutrients with the bran, like magnesium.
Instead, opt for foods like nuts, which are high in the mood mineral. Some Asian research also suggests that consuming more fish may lower your depression risk.
6. Get Some Physical Movement
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mood. The problem is, when you feel depressed, working out becomes the last thing you feel energetic enough to do.
Use this psychological trick to get yourself going — promise yourself that you only need to exercise for 10 minutes. Set a timer, and let yourself stop when it goes off. However, once you start getting those endorphins flowing, you’ll likely want to finish your workout.
7. Say No to the Nightcap
Alcohol sings a sweet siren song when you feel depressed — make like Odysseus and tie yourself to the mast. Refuse to let a drop in your house if you must, or have your spouse lock the liquor cabinet and hide the key.
The reason is that drinking messes with your neurotransmitter levels. It impacts dopamine, glutamate, GABA — all of which affect your mood. While you may temporarily deaden your emotions, you’ll feel much worse afterward — and not all from the hangover.
8. Identify Your Support Network
When everything’s going wrong, you might feel tempted to isolate yourself. “No one cares about my problems,” and, “everyone has their cross to bear,” predominate your thoughts.
Reach out anyway. Your social support system can remind you of your intrinsic value, independent of your job, housing or wallet size. They can also lend you the needed perspective for moving forward.
9. Perform a Kind Deed
It sounds ironic, but the best thing you can do when you feel down is to lift someone else up. That’s because volunteering raises the levels of serotonin and oxytocin, among other neurotransmitters. They all result in a mood boost.
Spend time socializing kitties at a local animal shelter. Stop and give the change from your lunch to the person holding up a sign on the corner — without judging how they may spend it. If you have the means, buy them a meal, too.
10. Try to Sleep More Soundly
You know how grumpy you feel after tossing and turning. Try to get adequate sleep.
If you find shuteye elusive due to anxiety or depression, seek help. If that isn’t possible in your circumstances, natural remedies can sometimes.work. Valerian tea is a good option, but it does take time to build up in your system — give it two weeks. Over-the-counter allergy pills like Benadryl ease some into dreamland.
Use These 10 Tips to Stay Strong When It Seems Like Everything’s Going Wrong
When it seems like everything’s going wrong, staying strong can prove challenging. The 10 tips above can help you stay grounded when the world feels like a cyclone trying to blow you away.
Mia Barnes is the Editor in Chief at BodyMind.com. She loves to write about health and wellness with a focus on mental wellbeing topics. She hopes that her writing will encourage those who read it.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.