It’s a new year, it’s a dull month, we’re all broke, we’re all trying to stick to our new year’s resolution, right? January can be a real bitch.
So the question is, “how do I keep myself happy when times get tough?”
It’s a tricky one because no single idea works for everyone, and we all struggle in different ways. Even people who are able to give the best advice to others.
Matt Haig @matthaig1
Not gonna lie, am finding January a bit hard this year
In just over two hours he has already received over 100 tweets from people sharing support, suggestions and also messages of agreement. I’m included in that. January, you’re being a bitch.
So, what can we do?
Ways of staying positive
1. Surround yourself with supportive people
Honestly, this is one of the biggest reminders I have to tell myself. On days where I want to crawl under the covers and cry for hours on end, it’s those days where I need to self-care the most. I (almost always) prize myself out of bed, put on some make-up and get a plan in action.
Sometimes, your friends aren’t free and you need to find another way of meeting people. I find that a familiar cafe helps, or a local restaurant where you know the staff are lovely. This saved me in so many ways when I was struggling with depression. I’m vocal about my issues and people often know when I’m not okay – the amount of times I went to a favourite place and the people I knew made me feel better almost instantly is uncountable!
My example: Yesterday, I was due to go into work and get my handovers, observe a lesson, and all I wanted to do was stay at home and cry, mope, feel sorry for myself. But where would that get me? I worked too hard to go backwards.
Being back at BEET was wonderful. I didn’t even expect anyone to really notice me but I had such a warm welcome. I had hugs, surprised faces, so many questions about my plans and even my students were happy to see me. I could’ve cried, I was so overwhelmed.
This, ladies and gents, is why having the right people around you is so important. I always thought I could manage the world on my own, I pushed everyone away thinking I needed no one, and that is half the reason why I’ve struggled when I have, because I’ve been alone. The colleagues and friends I have at BEET are invaluable. I cannot explain the ways in which these people inspire and support me, despite only knowing them for 6 months. Walking through that door almost feels like home.
2. Eat well.
I know every book and blog post about health and happiness tells you this but it’s true. Sure, go ahead, eat a pizza, eat a chocolate cake, eat whatever you want, but is it kind to your body? Will it make you sick?
I struggle with dairy products these days and I’ve tried to keep my diet as vegan as possible but in all honesty, I’m failing. When I’m having a bad day I grab a pizza or a box of malteasers, have a Dr Pepper or some other junk food. It doesn’t help.
I feel bloated, nauseous and uncomfortable.
However, whack together a plate of avocado on toast topped with chillis and lime juice – I’m in heaven. Drink plenty of water, lay off the alcohol (or at least consume as little as possible), enjoy a cup of coffee… Keep your body happy and your mind will appreciate it.
Another point that is reiterated time and time again, but it’s completely true. Taking time to rest and relax is vital. If you’re feeling down, angry, irritated, will a big night out help you? No, probably not (Nor will it help your bank balance). Will a long bath and an early night help? Maybe, hopefully. It does for many of us.
It’s okay if you need an extra hour, or three, in bed. It’s okay to stay in your PJs all day. It’s okay if you need a time out. Listen to your body when it’s telling you to slow down. It knows what you need.
Take time to be mindful.
Mindful breathing. Mindful writing. Mindful walking. Appreciating what you do have. Yoga.
I find that writing down how I feel helps me to understand myself better as I can see the words on the page. It helps me think about how to move on from what I’m feeling and perhaps why I’m feeling it, if it isn’t an obvious issue.
4. Allow the struggle.
This may sound a little odd, but you can’t always be happy – right? You have to learn to accept your true emotions without suppressing them. If you’re having a bad day, it’s perfectly okay to cry. Whether your a girl or guy. Cry your heart out if you need to. I learned a few years ago that trying not to cry only makes it worse in the end. You must accept your emotions.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re feeling anxious, scared, upset, heartbroken or any other emotion – Feel it. Allow it to exist. Find a way through it. Move on from it.
“Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”
― C.S. Lewis,
“I have been crying,” she replied, simply, “and it has done me good. It helps a woman you know, just as swearing helps a man.”
― Horace Annesley Vachell,
“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows crying, knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.”
I’m no psychologist, doctor, or expert of any kind, but what I do know is how hard it is to struggle every single day. Years of depression and sadness and anger. Bitterness, jealously, despair – all of these nasty, negative, destructive emotions that consumed my life for years. I had to fight it like hell. It gets easier, if you work at it, it really does.
I would never want to see someone struggle and I only hope that by sharing parts of my own life and advice, I can make a difference. Even if it’s just to one person.
What do you do to stay positive and look after yourself?
Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments.
Lots of love xo