Not coping with life
Does it ever just all feel too much? Are there times when you feel fed up with life and wish you could just disappear? Well, you are not alone. I come across many clients who come see me to help them find ways to cope with life.
Dealing with the tough times in life is made all the more difficult by the fact that there is pressure on all of us to keep going, keep functioning and be successful too. There must obviously be something wrong with us for not feeling able to cope – looking at the lives of others can make us feel worse as everyone else seems to be coping. Others seem to have great lives, running along smoothly mostly whilst you suffer silently with inner turmoil.
So what can you do to get yourself in to a better frame of mind?
Sometimes, there isn’t much you can do. This may seem disheartening but sometimes life just IS. You will have ups and downs and a little amount of acceptance helps. Go with the flow, bide your time and you may gently emerge from the tough time of feeling overwhelmed, and enter into a new phase.
What you can do to minimise the negative feelings:
1) Don’t catastrophise
Don’t allow your thinking to imagine the worst case scenarios – not helpful! Saying things like “I will never feel right again” or “life is awful and things will always be this way” won’t help and will make it worse plus these thoughts are irrational. Life isn’t that black and white. When you catch yourself catastrophising, change your thoughts. Challenge this type of thinking and replace it with thoughts such as: I may feel depresed, anxious right now but it doesnt mean the rest of my life will also be like this.
2) Be kind to yourself
Don’t chastise yourself and put pressure on yourself to “snap out if it”. Be kind to yourself as you would a best friend. Give yourself a little bit of time out. Take a day off if you can. Get a nap in the afternoon. Chill out and relax. Stop the “shoulds” and the “musts”. They can wait for another day when you feel more upbeat.
3) Be patient
Some things can’t be forced. Life sometimes needs a bit of time for the energy to change. When you’re in a vulnerable place, try to rest, avoid people who make you feel worse and do things that make you feel good about yourself. Go for a massage, declutter the house or help someone in a worse place than you.
4) Focus less on yourself
We are egocentric beings as we see the world though our unique interpretations. When we are depressed or sad and anxious, we see the world in a distorted fashion. We tend to think about all the reasons why we are failures and this makes us feel worse. Try to focus on events and experiences where you aren’t the main focus. This can help lend perspective to your life, especially when you are in the doldrums.
5) Don’t compare
When we compare, we tend to take all the awful stuff about out own lives and compare it to the little that we see of other people’s lives – or the little they allow us to see. This is a filtered version of their life -you don’t really know what is going on in their lives. When we feel depressed we tend to look at our own lives negatively and see other people as doing much better than us, Again this is unhelpful and most importantly – this comparison is HIGHLY inaccurate..so stop it.
6) Don’t overthink
There’s a saying “When we are in our own minds we are in enemy territory”. This is especially true if you are feeling depressed. Accept that your thinking is ‘off’ and try not to overthink when you feel you are not coping with life. Distract yourself – buy a colouring in book, paint a picture, take the dog for a walk…DO something and leave the thinking for later when you are in a better place.
7) Take care of yourself – personal hygiene!
It doesn’t get talked about that often when referring to depression but it is common for people who are depressed and not coping with life to forego personal hygiene. Survival mode takes over and sometimes just getting out of bed can be a victory.
Try to take care of yourself though and keep clean and looking respectable. Keeping yourself clean and prepared for any surprise intrusions from the outside world is an important psychological defense in emerging from a depressed state. You may feel like giving up on life and society but never give up on yourself. When we lack hygiene we send ourselves a message that we don’t value ourselves and this can make us sink further into the dark abyss of depression. Force yourself to keep yourself looking (and smelling!) respectable – for YOU, not for anyone else!
8) If all else fails…
If your low mood persists, it may be time to visit your GP or counsellor to see if anything more can be done. Sometimes we need a nudge in the right direction and there are times when we need external help for this. It isn’t a failure, it’s the wise person who does whatever it takes to make the most of their life and to minimise the amount of time they spend feeling miserable and isolated.
I have had many times when I have felt I am not coping with life. There have been dark times and dark thoughts have haunted me.
We are all in this together and we all go through times when we feel we are not coping with life. Life can be tough and no one escapes without a few scars. Reach out to others, ask for help and don’t isolate yourself. There is love and care out there but sometimes you need to look for it.
Photo by anna gutermuth