Let’s get something straight right away. There is definitely a part of me that is writing this post for myself. Because more and more frequently, I am experiencing the crushing pressure of LIFE and I need to get better at dealing with it. I am by no means perfect and indeed, I find it difficult to take some of the advice I’m dishing out in this post. But hopefully, having all of these tips in one easily-accessible place will remind me that I’m capable of more than I think. And hopefully, the same will go for you!
A small disclaimer before we begin: while I do have a degree in psychology and I am currently studying for my counselling diploma, please do not take my words as gospel. I am more than happy to talk to anyone who wants to reach out to me but please don’t use me as a replacement for your GP ❤
Say ‘no’ to things
Getting my most hypocritical advice out of the way first. I absolutely SUCK at saying no. I have been a people-pleaser for as long as I can remember and I will consistently put other people’s needs before my own. I’m starting to realise that this is not healthy and that I can’t help other people if I don’t take care of myself. Sometimes you just have to say no to that blog tour, no to that overtime, no to that social obligation. We are not machines; there is a limit to how much of ourselves we can give. It is so important to make time for yourself (and not feel guilty about it!!)
If, like me, saying no to things doesn’t come easily for you, then make sure you keep yourself organised. I could not function without my daily to-do lists. In fact, I’m so extra that I now have multiple lists for different categories (blogging, studying, adulting, etc.) Sometimes, I can feel totally overwhelmed by everything I need to do and if I don’t get it out of my head and onto paper, I feel like I will explode. I usually make a list before bed of everything I need to do the following day (choosing high priority items from each of the wider category lists). It helps me the following morning to have my tasks already written out in front of me.
Break it down
As I just mentioned, my to-do lists are these days separated into different categories. However, there are times when this can work against me; seeing EVERYTHING written down in this way can panic me if I’m not having a mentally strong day. When these feelings hit, I try to focus on small steps at a time. Yes, my to-do list may say that I have an essay to write but I might break that down further and say that all I’m going to focus on for now is writing the introduction. I might have 10 book reviews to write but today I’m only going to focus on writing one. Taking things in smaller chunks can make them a little more bearable. And this advice doesn’t just apply to the lists but to life in general. If it makes you anxious to think of everything you’ve got to do in a week, change the way you think about it! Just take it a day at a time. Or an hour at a time if you need to go even smaller. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming and you don’t need to scare yourself with it unnecessarily.
Take care of your body
If your mind is in turmoil, then try to care for your body instead. Be kind to yourself – I’m not suggesting you go for a 4-mile run or book a full-body massage (unless you’re up to that, in which case go for it!) I know I certainly couldn’t face anything like that on days when even getting out of bed is a struggle. You need to be gentle with yourself. Get the rest you need, even if that means sleeping later in the morning or having an afternoon nap. (Again, this is something I struggle with as I always feel like sleeping is not a productive use of my time. But it is so important! Sleep is when the body repairs itself and if you are physically rested, your mind will be in a better position to face the challenges of the day). Try to drink plenty of water and eat little and often. Make sure you take your medication. Brush your teeth, have a shower or a bath. And try to get some natural light if you can.
Talk to someone
It is so important to tell someone how you are feeling. Going back to the people-pleasing, I will very often bottle up my emotions and keep them locked away inside because I feel like people will be upset if I tell them the truth and I don’t want to be that burden on them. But if you aren’t honest with people about what you’re feeling, then they can’t help you to get through it. You will have to continue pushing through alone. And trust me, that’s hard. If you have the courage to tell one person, then that one person may be able to lighten the load for you in ways you wouldn’t have imagined; they may offer you advice that you never would have thought of by yourself or they could brighten your day unexpectedly by sending a message to check how you are. The more people you let in, the more support you have to fall back on.
I hope these tips can help some of you if you feel like you are struggling. The main point I want you to take away is that you don’t have to be on top of things all the time – you are allowed to rest! I’m hoping that by writing this post I’ll have got the message through to my own brain as well.
There may be times when you feel you can’t cope with everything life is throwing at you, but know that it will eventually pass and just try to be gentle with yourself while you go through it all. You are not alone and you can survive this.