I say the phrase "It's ok to not be ok" to my friends and family all the time when they are stressed out. I offer this phrase thinking they understand what I mean by it. Recently, I have been realizing I often say phrases I might not entirely understand myself. This has led me to really explore my common phrases and pick them apart to realize their deeper meaning. Therefore, in this article I will explore those words and what they mean to me.

More or less, what does "being okay" mean?

My first thought was that being okay means being functional. For me, being functional means not having stress, anxiety, non-stop obsessive thoughts, or patterns of behavior hinder me from having a joy-filled day.

Lots of people think being okay means feeling somewhere in the middle of feeling fantastic and feeling awful – you're just living life, and nothing special is going on per-say, but it's still good.

One of my friends from work defines being okay as "living in the present with joy and or looking forward to something happening in the future."

Now, what does "not being okay" mean?

Not being okay means (to me) not being functional (as stated above), not being in a positive head-space, and not being able to pull yourself out of it on your own. It usually includes feelings of immense stress, helplessness, hopelessness, and more.

Stressing yourself out over something that hasn't happened yet (I AM SO GUILTY OF THIS. Cue frustrated facepalm).

The negative thoughts and feelings usually stem from dwelling on the past, like past mistakes or crummy moments.

When should people reach out for help if they are not okay?

You might be asking, "Wait, who said anything about reaching out for help?"

Me. Right now. It is okay to have lousy days, horrible phone conversations, whatever gets you bummed, BUT if you can't pull yourself out of this funk and it is affecting you poorly, then yes, please get help.

Because you can feel happy again and reclaim that joy that you need. So whenever you feel down and blue, reach out to a friend or family member for a comforting word, a sweet hug, or a coffee date to cheer you up and get you through the moment of sadness.

If you're "not okay" moment is more serious, like a mood or mental state that could potentially (or very quickly) reach a crisis stage where you consider hurting yourself or something else just as serious, it really is time to ask for help. Sometimes, at this stage, friends, and family alone do not cut it. I am listing professional help numbers below to assist you if you ever need those resources (for yourself or others). There is also this cool new notOK app that you could download. With just one click of a button, you could let five of your closest friends and family (and even a counselor, if you want) know you're not OK and that you need them.

Two more things, then I am done.

  • It's okay to not be okay, but it's better to be great! Whatever fills your life with joy and keeps you healthy and happy should be activities you continue doing. Be great and live life to the max, people.
  • My friend and co-worker Austin has the following advice for people who are not feeling okay:
"This is 100% proven by me. The best therapy is looking at edgy memes and (dramatic pause) listening to metal music."

Then he went on to explain that metal music is great because you get lost in the sound of the jams and if you can look at dark things in a humorous light (cuz edgy memes are dark humor memes), then nothing can probably bring your mood down. I agree, memes are great because laughter is a great antidote to stress.

Good luck, friend. Reclaim your day, make it a great one.


Professional Help Numbers

Emergency Medical Services: 9-1-1

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline: 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727)

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, PRESS 1

NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)