It seems like every week there's another blog or book promoting "Top Self-Help Tips" or the "Ultimate Guide to Happiness". These guides profess a handful of lifestyle tips guaranteed to help you overcome everything from a breakup to depression. The truth is, not everyone is responsive to a 6 a.m. rise followed by kombucha and pilates - and that's okay.
We want to preface this article by saying we are in no way mental health experts...We're not even lifestyle coaches. We're just two 20-somethings who have faced some of life's curveballs and we want to provide another narrative to the self-help resources online.
This is our list of self-help tips. They may or may not work for you, but we believe in letting yourself feel what you need to feel and working through hard times at your own pace. Sometimes life is more about getting real about who you are and what you're feeling, rather than arbitrarily implementing changes into your day-to-day life. If you're struggling, whether that be because of a recent breakup, a mental illness or a series of bad days, we hope these tips speak to you.
1. It's okay to not feel okay.
Today might suck, and frankly, tomorrow might suck too. That's okay. It's okay to go through low points in life. The important thing is to recognize why you feel the way you do and to acknowledge the feeling or the emotion so you can address it and learn from it. Denial doesn't help anyone. Don't feel like you need to pretend things are okay when they're not.
2. Yoga isn't for everybody.
Some problems don't just 'namaste' away. If trying not to fart while in downward dog isn't your idea of a therapeutic activity, pick something else! Try running or kick-boxing or whatever activity you gravitate to in order to de-stress.
3. Sometimes bad things happen and these events innately cause pain, loss, heart-break or anger. You likely don't have control over these issues, but you can control the magnitude in which these issues impact your life.
Most self-help articles say things like "you control how you react to situations" or "you can control how problems affect you". Are anyone else's eyes rolling at this naïve optimism?
Let's get real. Some events in life are utterly devastating, and unless you have robotic control over your emotions, these issues can cause a natural response of sadness or anger. You likely don't have control over these events, and you probably don't have much control over your natural response to these events either. You can, however, control how severe the impact of the issue is on your life. The key here is learning how to move on from hardship.
4. The answer to happiness isn't always found in a new gym membership.
Keeping your body healthy and your mind active is proven to boost morale and improve overall mood, but don't turn to a gym membership by default just because it's recommended in a guide. If working out in a gym isn't something you enjoy, don't stress yourself out by committing to a year-long membership! We aren't suggesting you shouldn't try new things and make life changes. Instead, we suggest choosing an activity or hobby that interests you and truly makes you happy while doing it.
5. On the subject of point 2, sometimes it's a good idea to revisit an old hobby or passion.
Did you previously paint, make music or play a sport? Has that old hobby somehow slipped away from you as you've become caught up in work, school or family life? Revisit it. Sometimes one of the reasons we feel lost is because we've stopped making time for our individual passions and interests.
6. A change in scenery can help, but make sure you're not running from your problems.
Sure, a new apartment, job or lifestyle can help give you the spark you need to get out of a slump- but make sure this change isn't a cover for your problems. There's something to be said for facing your present situation and addressing what bothers you here-and-now.
7. Don't feel obligated to be social.
When you're going through a hard time or suffering in a low-point, people will often say, "go out and be social! Hangout with your friends and keep busy!" Although this advice is rooted in the best intentions, sometimes the idea of getting dressed up to go fake smile at an event can seem exhausting. Do what you need to do. If that means taking some time to be alone.
8. Pizza is more comforting than salad.
Kale never healed no heartache. Stop stressing about getting that "revenge body" and enjoy a slice.
9. It's okay if you're not ready to be on your own right now.
We're often advised to learn how to be on our own. We're told to avoid hopping from relationship to relationship, to learn how to enjoy our own company and to develop a comfort with being alone. This is something we should aim to achieve at some point, but don't force yourself to be alone right now if it doesn't feel right. If you enjoy surrounding yourself with lots of different people, do so. Similarly, don't pass up a connection or relationship with potential to bring you happiness just because you feel like you haven't hit your 2-year recommended single phase.
10. If you've isolated yourself, don't feel like you can't reach out to your friends - the good ones will always be there.
If you've taken time to check-out from society and haven't called your friends in a while, don't feel anxious about reaching back out to them. The real ones will always be there, regardless of how long you've been on a social hiatus. They'll be happy to have you back in action!
11. Life is short, but it's also long...
Carpe diem another day. We're all for making the most of your time here on Earth, but sometimes you just need to take your time. Sleep in. Enjoy the moment. Don't sweat the small struggles.
This point is applicable to relationships, too. People will come in and out of your life. What seems like a heartbreaking end right now, might not be in the spectrum of your whole life. Take solace in knowing things don't have to be broken forever if you don't want them to be, and things usually work out for the best in the end.