Today was a perfect example of, one of those days. This morning, before I even had the chance to hit the glorious snooze button, the negative energy had already begun to seep into my thoughts and my day. My own mind had decided to be a traitor the night before, turning vivid images of all the things that break my heart into one collective film. I am generally able to embrace my inner Ms. Swift and just shake it off when it comes to bad dreams. This morning the movie scenes just clung to me, partnering with OCD to rewrite the playlist in my mind to show only re-runs of all the pictures and dialogue that taunted me emotionally moments before. The physiological anxiety symptoms begin and I haven't even gotten out of my bed, yet. I start to think of all the things that bring me down, and start to question my own sense of self worth.
Mornings like that are battles some days. There are times when I get up and I fight back. I tell myself that getting up and taking a shower is gold star worthy, and if I can just muster the courage within me to shower, then I can take on this new day. I tell myself that putting on my new pretty makeup with help me feel better, that putting curls in my hair will erase the intrusive thoughts that fill my head and that maybe picking out a cute outfit will give me back my sense of control and sense of self.
Other days, the only answer is to accept defeat, let the anxiety wash over me and choose my blankets over my battle stations. On those days, I tell myself that if I lose this battle I may still win the war.
Those days, however, I sometimes tend to either not like who I am or just become overwhelmed with my distain for my mental health or surroundings. I reject the rational notion that mental illness is out of my control and that my self worth should not be based on my ability to conquer the depression and anxiety that chooses to visit my mornings. Instead, my natural desire to want to just be better and work on myself as a person gets muddled with negative self talk. I start to self-hate instead of self-love, and that act in of itself makes me feel less than and not enough. "I can't even like myself", I start to think.
The media all around us has consistently told us we are not enough. Maybe, we aren't pretty enough, or we are too bold, too opinionated. Our bodies take up too much space or not enough at all. Lately, however, a movement has began that is finally encouraging us to accept our bodies and ourselves. This is amazing! We are finally starting to feel proud of feeling proud of who we are. We are being told to love ourselves, and accept ourselves. This is such a wonderful, positive thing and I am so excited for the future daughters (and sons) of this generation to be able to live in a world where uniqueness is celebrated, and where their happiness and character is more important than their appearance.
But what happens on those days when we cannot love or accept ourselves? What happens on the mornings when I don't want to crawl out of my bed and face the day, or the days I definitely don't find myself worthy of love or happiness? If you have ever felt this way, just know you are not alone. We all have days on some scale where we just don't feel like we are fond of ourselves. Whether it is mental illness, a bad day at work, a social interaction that left you feeling embarrased, a moment of rejection, a day you may have made a mistake, a failed exam or just one of those days, we all have experienced moments where we wish we could be better or we just wish we could love ourselves in that moment.
Please don't feel like you are less than the rest simply because you can't find it in you to like yourself that day. Even when we do not like ourselves, let us find it within us to be kind to ourselves despite those feelings. Here are my favorite tips I would like to share that help me be a little more kind to myself, even on those days where I can't find it in me to like myself or when I am just feeling overwhelmed and down.
Writing is my personal favorite. Journaling our feelings and struggles is theraputic and helps to lessen the load our minds have to carry. Make lists, write creatively, any little bit helps.
2. Get outside
The change of scenery is wonderful, and I always feel so happier and more calm when I get outside even if just for a few minutes. Go for a walk around your neighborhood, plant some flowers, look at the stars or just step outside for a bit and breathe in the fresh air.
Runner's high truly exists. Any time I am feeling down, I go for a run and come back feeling accomplished and have a huge boost of self esteem. Running not your thing? Try dancing, biking, or swimming. Anything that gets you moving will help elevate your mood.
Call someone who will build you up and remind you that you are worthy of love. My favorite person is definitely my mom as seen above.
5. Treat yourself
Go out and purchase something small, like a new lipstick or that new shirt you had your eye on.
6. Create a happy playlist
The program Spotify is great for this, because they even have pre-made playlists fit for your mood! Students also get a major discount.
7. Surround yourself with positive people
Spend some time around people who will make you laugh and take you out of your head for a bit.
8. Leave your current surroundings
When I feel down, I make the drive to my parents' home to just remind myself that my entire world is not limited to my current surroundings.
9. Make a list of the positive
Make lists of the positive things in your life and the positive attributes that you have. Bonus points for saying them in the mirror to yourself.
10. Allow yourself to feel
Take time to feel what you're feeling. Sometimes, we need to just take a break, pour a cup of tea and remember it is okay to not be okay.
11. Focus on someone other than yourself.
Volunteer. Volunteering helps in many ways, but three big reasons are that you are taking your thoughts away from your current problem for a bit, you are learning about others and gaining perspective, and you are feeling accomplished.
Or any type of cuddly creature. Check and see if your school or community has a therapy pet program, or go volunteer at your local animal shelter. They need the love and you would both benefit.
13. Give yourself a spa day.
Break out the cheap candles, pour yourself a bubble bath, put on your favorite mud mask and just relax. Even the small things help us feel better when we are choosing to put time into ourselves.
14. Make your favorite snack
Take time to bake or cook your favorite food. (Or go and get your favorite take out.)
15. Watch a funny video.
Netflix and Hulu are your friends. My favorite funny show lately is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The story line is adorable, hilarious and often empowering.
16. People watch
This might sound a little strange, but if you are feeling that you need to get out of your house a bit, but aren't up for socializing, browse the mall or a local store. You get the benefits of surrounding yourself without maybe the added stress of putting together a social event.
17. Join a class
Learning new things or focusing on our hobbies is a fun way to get the focus away from ourselves. Learning new skills gives us a sense of self accomplishment and it is a great positive distraction.
18. Positive Quotes
For me, I am a lover of quotes. Check out your social media or even just a web search for positive quotes. Instagram has been a great way to find positive, uplifting inspiration!
19. Ask for help
Sometimes our bad days are more than just a bad day. Never be ashamed to ask for help. Talk to a trusted friend or check out To Write Love on Her Arms , Oklahoma Dept of Mental Health (if you are local) or the National Suicide Hotline .