We all experience periods in our lives, when nothing seems to go according to plan and even the slightest upsets will have you feeling overwhelmed and shaken. When you’re going through a rough patch, it’s so important to take the time to look after yourself and address your own needs before you tackle anything else. Here are 6 ways to help yourself get back on track and enjoying life again, as tried and tested by me.
And not just any old sleep – quality sleep. REM and non-REM sleep form a complete sleep cycle, with each cycle lasting around 90 mins, repeated four or five times throughout the course of the night. As the Irish proverb says, “a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for everything”, so if you’re feeling less than yourself lately, it might be a good idea to re-assess your sleep routine. Of course, we all lead different lives and our lifestyles will require varied amounts of sleep, so there’s no use going by what one person considers the ‘right’ duration of sleep. Take into consideration how much mental concentration you must endure each day, how much physical activity you get, etc. Cutting out caffeine/sugar late at night and minimizing your exposure to bright lights from phones, laptops, etc. and getting enough oxygen into your blood by means of fresh air can really improve the quality of your sleep too.
Whether you’re an avid blogger or your written words rarely extend further than a shopping list, jotting down your thoughts when something is bothering you can prove incredibly helpful. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or feel like your emotions are starting to build up too much inside your head, grab a notebook, a pen and a strong coffee, and just let it all out. Scribble furiously or ink just a few words that sum up exactly how you’re feeling, getting it all out on paper has proved very therapeutic for me in the past. Keeping an account of your feelings and thoughts during a difficult time can also be quite healing if you choose to read back on them as you gradually move on from the situation.
Run Baby, Run
I’m the furthest thing from a fitness fanatic that you’ll ever come across but when I’m feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed, nothing compares to running the roads after dusk. As well as the obvious benefits of all the endorphins rushing to your brain, there’s just something pretty empowering about running in the opposite direction, earphones in, escaping from reality for even just 30 minutes. I particularly find this kind of cardio useful if I’m feeling frustrated with something or someone in my life, we all need to blow off steam sometimes and what better way is there than a run?
Fuel Your Body
Often, I find that my mood swings and lack of energy boil down greatly to a lack of eating or consuming the wrong types of food. ‘Chronic fatigue’ is often triggered by not eating enough energy-rich foods, so aiming to consume more red meat and green vegetables can make a massive improvement to your energy levels. Eating more foods rich is healthy fats such as tuna, salmon and avocado can work wonders for poor concentration and mood swings as they’re considered the best ‘brain foods’ you can give to your body. Regularly feeling run down or ‘sluggish’ could be due to a food intolerance such as dairy so keeping track of any reoccurring symptoms is key and cutting out a particular food that doesn’t agree with you could drastically improve how you feel from day to day.
Plan & Organise
Making lists and getting on top of your schedule may not seem like an obvious stress-buster but I honestly find it much easier to tackle the day if I have some sort of plan in place with regards to what needs to be done. If I’m feeling overwhelmed by a particularly busy week of assignments and labs looming over me, simply writing down everything that must be attended/achieved really helps me get a handle on things and stops me from getting overly anxious. Ticking tasks off as you complete them can be pretty calming too and they don’t need to be major achievements to count. Take it one lecture at a time and things will soon appear a lot less daunting than they first seemed.
Surround Yourself With Happiness
If you’re feeling negative, overwhelmed, anxious or fed up, being around people who eat and sleep positivity may not seem very appealing but in reality, it could actually do you the world of good. People who are naturally of a positive, ‘glass half full’ mind frame have an infectious aura of happiness about them, one that will reflect in you if you spend enough time with them. When I’m not feeling myself and am in need of a confidence boost, I try to be around the people in my life that make me feel good about myself and encourage me to be happy. Next time the stresses of everyday life are getting you down, grab a coffee and sit in the sunshine with one of your ‘larger than life’ friends – I guarantee their smile will reflect in your face before you know it!
Of course, the line between feeling ‘blue’ and suffering with an ongoing mental health issue can often be very fine. If your low mood is persistent or you’ve been feeling hopeless for quite some time, it may be best to visit your GP or local counseling service. What you’re dealing with may be super easy to get on top of once it’s unraveled, but leaving feelings bottled up will only worsen the problem.
UCC Student Health – 021 4902311
Pieta House Cork – 021 4341400
Samaritans Ireland – 116 123