From time to time, life is difficult.
We don’t always maintain a balanced view of the world. Daily responsibilities and dreams for the future can feel almost impossible if you’re in the middle of a difficult patch. Everything feels hard. It’s like walking through quicksand to get anything done. Physically you have less energy, and mentally there’s very little buffer zone. Often the response is that you’re incredibly hard on yourself.
We’ve all been through difficult times, so it’s important to remember you’re not alone in your experience.
Don’t imagine that you’ve failed in some way – this time is simply part of the roller-coaster ride we call ‘life’.
What matters most for the moment is that you take good care of yourself, you give yourself time to get through this, and when you’re ready you do what you can to begin the healing process. Try the following suggestions to help you through.
It’s ok to be a bit ‘selfish’
A better way to think of this is to ‘practise self-care’. Do what you need to do to rebuild your strength. Retreat if you need to retreat – and don’t feel guilty when you do. Listen to your instincts and be kind to yourself. There’s no right way to get through a difficult time but whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up about not being what other people need you to be right now. This is a time to put your needs first.
Start the healing process by taking in the good
While you don’t want to put pressure on yourself or deny how you’re feeling, neuropsychologist and author Rick Hanson suggests that healing often begins when we deliberately become aware of and allow ourselves to absorb positive experiences. In Rick’s words, “When you tilt toward the good, you’re not denying or resisting the bad. You’re simply acknowledging, enjoying and using the good. You’re aware of the whole truth, all of the tiles of the mosaic of life, not only the negative ones.” One way to do this is to remember the good in yourself – be kind to yourself the way you would be to a friend who was going through a challenging time.
Schedule some time every day for something you enjoy. This could be as simple as a walk around the block or sitting in a peaceful place reading a few pages of a book you’ve always wanted to read.
If your mind is racing, try writing down your thoughts in a notebook, particularly if they’re thoughts you’re going over and over. You may like to try a short meditation. Often you’ll find you return to your thoughts later on with a clearer, rested mind.
Reach out for help
When a period of melancholy has lasted longer than a few weeks, make sure you seek some support. Start by letting the people closest to you know that you’re struggling.
Take this online test to see how likely it is that you’re suffering from depression. Reach out to Beyond Blue (it’s a free service) or make an appointment with your GP or other trusted practitioner to talk about your options.