Feeling upset? Flat? Anxious? Sad? Irritable? Nervous? Overwhelmed? You are not alone.
The different stresses and challenges of our complex, modern lives can play havoc with our emotions, thoughts and behaviour.
While it is always recommended you seek out professional help for ongoing mental health issues, there are a number of techniques you can use to help improve your mood and wellbeing in the short-term.
Ride the Wave
It’s hard to think clearly when you are in a state of ‘fight or flight’ and your emotional mind is firing. Initially, it may be more helpful to simply recognise how you’re feeling without judging or expecting to change anything. Try to visualise yourself riding the wave of feelings you are experiencing rather than being immersed or dragged down. Remind yourself that this state will pass even if it doesn't feel like it at the moment and trust that your mind and body will return to equilibrium over time.
Alternatively, you may benefit from actually focussing on your thoughts and feelings. Finding a trusted friend to talk to can help you express and understand your emotions. Or if you are uncomfortable voicing your feelings, writing them down in a journal can be a cathartic experience. Either way, exploring and sorting through your emotions may help you feel less overwhelmed by them.
Go easy on yourself
Are you adding an unnecessary layer of suffering with your self-talk? Watch where your mind goes. Try and mute that negative voice or challenge it if you can. Tell yourself it's appropriate to feel the way you do and that there is no need to be hard on yourself for feeling bad. To have emotions is to be human so if you feel like crying, then let yourself go.
Acknowledge that you need love, care and nurturing at this time. Make yourself feel good. Have a cup of herbal tea and put on some gentle music, listen to an audiobook or watch a favourite show that makes you feel positive. Relax. Take a bath or cosy up for a nap. Soothe yourself by getting a massage or rubbing your own feet and hands.
Focus on your breathing to regain a sense of peace and calm. Quiet your mind by using a guided meditation app or by taking time out to notice the natural world around you. Study the fine lines on a leaf or the petals of a flower. Let your eyes slowly follow each detail. Use relaxation techniques such as consciously unclenching your jaw and releasing tension in your muscles. Slow down.
For now, moment to moment is good enough. Everyone is an individual so find the things that work for you and that are within your means. Often, a combination of approaches will be required for you to start feeling better. Just start by asking yourself what is one thing you can do right now to manage or make a difference. Then acknowledge improvements, no matter how small, and take a note of anything that makes even the smallest difference. These can become part of your mental ‘first aid’ kit for the future.