This post is inspired by a true story. Mine.
Today I am sharing my 10 Ways to Feel Better, When You Feel Like Crap. My fave is number nine....
Feeling Like Crap can mean a rainbow of things. "Crappiness" can be light or heavy. Temporary or chronic. One day or a whole stinking crappy year. Well, these suggestions work for just about any crappy situation. Hooray!
The best part about crappy days? When they get less crappy! You can only go up from a crappy mood, day or year, right? And if you take on your not-so-great situation with eyes wide open, you can come out learning and growing from the challenge you went through.
The past few months for me have been HARD. Like really hard. Crappy, even.
I lost my dad in December and even though he had been slowly declining while battling Alzheimer's the past few years, I was pretty shaken to my core when he finally passed. My dad. The strongest guy I knew, who seemed to keep on going and going like the Energizer Bunny of life's challenges, finally passed away and ended his fight. It was a lot to process. And it still is.
Btw, do people younger than me actually know what the Energizer Bunny is? Just curious.
Anyone who has lost a parent knows how it completely changes your world. In ways you may never have expected. It leaves your mind numb from millions of swirling thoughts, regrets and memories. You feel empty, yet full. Grateful yet broken. I feel rich in happy memories, yet brokenhearted by the conversations I will never have and adventures we will never share.
When Crap Hits You. Sometimes there is a delayed reaction from experiencing a stressful event and feeling it. I was ok in those first few days, cloaked in a shell of adrenaline and funeral flowers. But a few weeks later stress hit me like a pile of snow falling off the limbs of a cartoon tree, to make a snowman of the animated character below. I was "fine," and then I wasn't. Then the dizzying mess of healing from grief began. Emotional and physical. So these past few months I have slowly been working to pull myself out of this crappy situation. So these are a few lessons that have helped me.
Lessons of Crappiness.
When you feel like crap you basically have two choices.
Option number one: Ignore it, numb it, pop an Advil, sip some wine, go on vacation, bury your head in work, submerge yourself in something until the crappy feeling dulls or goes away completely. The only problem with this "turtle shell" approach is that you live in constant fear that the problem or root cause might come back.
Option number two: Fight. Face it head on. Say it out loud. Name it. Feel it. Embrace the bodyache, mindache or heartache and hopefully fix the root cause of the problem -- or at the very least, learn to live with it -- and move forward unafraid.
And side note, ladies, our "crappy days" are always more elaborate because our bodies are so complex, ever-changing and beautiful that when hormones, moods, emotions and circumstances all intertwine - things get beyond complicated in the healing process.
There is one thing I know About Healing. For both men and women, our minds, bodies and souls are all intertwined. If you have an aching heart from losing someone you love, your body will most certainly feel it in a physical sense. If you have a chronic health condition, your mind will start to feel taxed and tired from dealing with it.
And with that said, I truly believe that laughter can help heal your body. Friendships can help heal anxiety. Exercise can help heal depression. Adventures can help heal sadness. And eating well helps heal everything.
So lets go! Lets start feeling less crappy together..
10 Ways to Feel Better, When You Feel Like Crap
1. Show Yourself Compassion.
The thoughts we have in response to stress, and the messages we send ourselves about our situation, are so telling of how we progress (or stagnate) with healing. Positive, compassionate messages are critical to healing.
So even if you feel like crap (for whatever reason) learn to say this to yourself: "This is ok. I am ok. I am good enough."
Or, all you young kids, "I am badass. I am ok. I am a purple unicorn with rainbow hair. I am a mermaid. I am good enough."
Don't let the crappy feelings own you. Instead, kill them with kindness -- for yourself! You are going through a lot, so be nice to yourself. Patient. Loving. Forgiving. Understanding. Accepting. And compassionate.
Give yourself a little mental hug.
"Remember that self-compassion means acknowledging that you’re struggling — and that it’s hard. It means being curious about your anxiety, about what you’re experiencing. It means suspending judgment and remembering that you’re doing the best you can. It means trying to treat yourself like you would a hurt child or a loved one who’s in pain." - Psych Central tips on practicing self-compassion.
2. Find The Good.
I am well aware that some "crappy situations" do not go away easily. Like a parent dying or having a chronic illness. You might say to yourself, well this awful feeling or situation is never going to end. Well guess what. It won't end, but as time goes on, YOU will change. You will grow. Strengthen. You will adapt to this new life and situation. And in every single day as the sun rises and the planets twirl and the oceans crawl and crash on the shore, there is good to be found.
I have faith that even when things feel dark and sad, we can find good. Even if we laugh through tears. We have to. And if you are finding that challenging, strengthen that skill. The easiest way is to start the Oprah-made-famous Gratitude Journal. Write down a few things each day that make you feel good. And before you know it, instead of focusing on the heartache, you will be focusing on having compassion for yourself and acknowledging the good in your (crappy and good) days.
Another way of honoring gratitude is to show it to others. Write a thank you note or praise someone who does a good job at something and might not always hear about it. If we all shower eachother with 'pats on the back' and thanks, maybe we would all feel a little better on this planet.
"Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice." - In Praise of Gratitude, Harvard Health
3. Find a Good Listener.
The worst thing to feel when you feel like crap is ALONE. Feeling alone is literally the worst. And look, I adore my alone time more than anyone, I am an independent soul at heart, but "alone time" is different that feeling alone.
The way to combat feeling alone is to find someone who will listen to you. Really listen. And this person might not even be your usual go-to BFF. This might be someone who you are not normally close with, but who can relate and make you feel less alone in your situation.
Reach out. Bottling things up inside and never expressing feelings is a sure fire way to let negative, sad or frustrated emotions OWN you. Don't let that happen. YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS.
Seriously, talking to friends and family members who I click with emotionally is the beeeeeeeest feeling ever when I feel like crap. And pay it forward! Don't forget to let your struggling friends know that you can offer an ear if they need one.
"A good listener will listen to the feelings behind your words, and won’t interrupt or judge or criticize you. The best way to find a good listener? Be a good listener yourself. Develop a friendship with someone you can talk to regularly, and then listen and support each other." - HelpGuide on Emotional Health
To pivot off of the talking thing. Talk to yourself. Write down your thoughts and perspectives and insights and good and bad days through your journey. I started journaling about two months ago and it has been the best habit I could take on. I love going back over my entries and reading the patterns and growth I have experienced. I have a journal for everyday stuff, a dream journal and one just for art. Yup that's three journals guys.
I also love adding little drawings to my journal entries. It is my way of expressing my day or mood via images and art, rather than just words.
"Journaling (or keeping letters or diaries) is an ancient tradition, one that dates back to at least 10th century Japan. Successful people throughout history have kept journals. Presidents have maintained them for posterity; other famous figures for their own purposes. Oscar Wilde, 19th century playwright, said: “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”" - The Health Benefits of Journaling, Psych Central
And pivoting off of the journal doodles... Art! Art therapy is my jam.
I am a huge advocate for art therapy. I have used art my entire life to comfort my soul when I have had rough patches and struggles. In college, when I was healing from my eating disorder, I ravenously painted and scribbled in my drawing journals. Art took me out of my head and onto the page where things could be beautiful, magical and uplifting.
And "art" can be so many things: music, drawing, photography, videography, acting, knitting, sculpting, even cooking and more! Find a creative outlet that you love and express yourself.
Even adult coloring books! Yup, I have a few of those I found at my local bookstore. Trendy AND wellness-inspiring!..
"Art therapy is also helpful among people dealing with a variety of other conditions, such as depression, dementia, anxiety, and PTSD." - medical daily, Therapeutic Science of Adult Coloring Books
To me, art is like going to a movie. I am in my own happy little world for a few hours and come out feeling transformed.
And guess what, a number of studies show that even placing art in your work or home spaces may help reduce anxiety, depression and improve well-being. So start pinning all over your real life walls!
I had a pretty fun time back in 2006, drawing all The Lunchbox Bunch characters too, the start of my whole blogging adventure.
6. Awe Therapy.
I recently read an article about a form of anxiety called rumination. Rumination is where you obsessively think about something that bothered you or upset you. For example, your boss says something negative to you about your work and you just cannot shake thinking about it and feeling bad about it. Or maybe you had a bad first date with someone and you just can't stop thinking about the experience. Or maybe you are a blogger *raises hand* and someone left a negative comment on your social media and aside from all the GOOD comments, you just cannot stop thinking about that one mean comment. The article I read said this..
"Awe is the opposite of rumination."
Awe. What is awe? Well "awe" can mean focusing outwards on the world, rather than inwards on yourself. So a good example of experiencing "awe" is going on a beautiful hike through the woods - seeing the sunshine sparkle through the trees, hearing the birds and feeling the cool forest mist on your face. Ahhhhh. Right? Awe and Ahhh.
Awe could also be going to a play or visiting a museum or food event or farmer's market. Turn your mind outwards on the world and have wide eyes while taking it all in ... rather than obsessing about these silly things inside our own minds. With awe, you may find your mind calms and your breathe becomes slower and deeper and happier with each inhale. I know I sure do! Beach therapy and getting out in nature is my favorite form of awe.
"Nature, of course, is a frequent awe-generator. “What is the first window into wonder?” asks journalist Richard Louv .. “It’s crawling out to the edge of the grass, listening to the wind and the trees, turning over a rock, and realizing that you’re not alone in the world.” Louv has come to think that the immune-system boost, improved cognitive functioning (such as increased attention span), and other consequences of being in the great outdoors are all elements of this one essential gift of awe: feeling truly alive." - Psychology Today
7. Spa Day
Ok, so this one is really silly and simple. But it works so well for me that it has to be in here. Get a massage. Visit a spa, a steam room, a pool, book a staycation, have a long and lovely bubble bath with sea salts and essential oils -- or just find some way to relax and chill out -- relax your muscles. Sometimes just laying in the sunshine for an afternoon nap can do this!
Relaxing can be physically HARD if your nerves are frazzled enough, but with each "spa day" or "me time" you may find your nerves unraveling and calming a little more and a little more.. Small steps, long term rewards.
"“Massage therapy had immediate beneficial effects on anxiety-related measures.”" - study report
7 1/2. Exercise or Meditate
I almost forgot this one. How could I? It feels so good to move! Sweat. Stretch. Walk. Or even breathe deeply and thoughtfully with restorative yoga.
Exercising lightly is my form of morning meditation. I visualize myself on a tropical beach or in another happy place while I breathe, stretch and move. Lately I have been using videos by J Brown. They are super calming and easy. Restorative yoga is the perfect form of meditation for those who have trouble just sitting still. Oh and some places like YogaWorks offer Restorative Yoga classes.
8. Feed Yourself Well
Really good food, healing, superfood-ish, comfort food gets me through a lot of crappy moments. I love being able to break away from everything and just make myself something I know is good for my physical body -- and in turn my emotional and mental self too!
Smoothies are my go-to feel good food.
So here is one smoothie recipe you can try that I just whipped up today..
Calming Coconut Almond Shake
1 cup almond milk
1 Medjool date, pitted
1 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp coconut flakes**
1-2 frozen bananas
1/2 tsp cinnamon
**(If you can find frozen or fresh coconut meat, use that in place of the coconut flakes - about 1/2 cup)
Superfoods I like to add: reishi mushroom powder, hemp seeds, Brazil nuts, protein powder or a vegan meal replacement powder, maca powder, cacao powder and more. Need smoothie recipes?.. My Book has a few..
Why did I wait until number nine to share this one when it is my favorite everrrrrr. Laughter heals all. Well, maybe not all, but when you are laughing it sure feels like it heals all!
Nowadays you can find funny stuff online very easily. I love Friends re-runs, funny videos on YouTube and comedians. What makes you laugh? I would love to know in the comments!
“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person.” ― Audrey Hepburn
“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” ― Mark Twain
And this one for all us GOT fans..
"Laughter is poison to fear.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
...so maybe we will see Jon Snow laughing his way through the army of white walkers? Hm.
Two of my fave Friends episodes lately.. the "pivot" couch one and the "spray tan" one with Ross.. (I posted that one at the end of this post!)
9 1/2. Use Your Imagination.
Aside from laughing. I think TV and Netflix and books and movies are such beautiful ways to spark our magical little worlds of imagination. Watch a Disney movie or turn on Game of Thrones or Harry Potter or an old 80's or 90's movie you loved. Step outside of reality and into someone else's little world.
I had a very active imagination as a child. And I know it got me through a lot of childhood strife. And even to this day, when I get in crappy-feeling life phases I find myself drawn to books, and stories that inspire magic and love and far off places.
Yesterday I read this quote from J.K Rowling's speech to the class of 2008, Harvard graduates..
"Though I personally will defend bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation; in its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we ave never shared." - J.K Rowling, Very Good Lives
10. Be In The Moment
If you need to, just be there. In the crap. :) Lose it. Cry. Be sad. Be mad. Be depressed. Be anxious. Try not to suppress those strong feelings when they come. Just embrace what you are feeling and let it out for a few minutes, then move on.
" “crying is the transformation of distress into something tangible, and that the process itself helps to reduce the feeling of trauma.” - Stress Relief, Why Crying Supports Emotional Wellness
* Meditation with an App or on your own
* Eating every few hours to help keep blood sugar stable
* Get out of your space -- change your scenery
* Go for a walk
* Listen to music
* Sip some chamomile or matcha green tea
* Play with your pet(s)
* Consult with professionals
* Spend time with your person. (Aka, go on a date with your hubs (or wifey) or snuggle on the couch with your bf or gf.)
* Find time. Find time to spend with loved ones.
* Do some good - volunteer, make a bag of donated food or clothes
* Call your mom. No, this is a good one. Moms love to talk and tell you how great you are (usually) so let them!
* Comment on this post! Tell me how you have struggled and I will be a friend to listen! OR you can share with all of us how YOU deal with your crappy days.
Ok, I really hope that this little post spoke to some of you. Please share how you deal with your "crappy" days (or longer!) -- sharing is truly how we can all help eachother get through this thing called life -- together. Hands held. Virtual hugs going strong.
And with that I will leave you with my fave laughter-inducing Friends clip..
And one more YouTube clip I love, a TED Talk from my friend Sophie's husband Dr Adi Jaffe on shame.. Watch it here!
Bring on the less crappy days!
note: If you feel "like crap" always always consult your doctor first and foremost. There may be an underlying cause that they can help you sort through. Or help you manage your health conditions. We all have them. Let a doctor help you navigate the waters of your health. For me, I have a few things like asthma, Hashimotos and lately some adrenal issues. I have been using the tips above as well as working with doctors to help me move towards feeling better. So please: make time and go say hi to your doctor. Annual physicals are so important -- even when you feel well - because then when you do not feel so great, you can have a point of reference to look at. In some cases, you might want to consult a naturopath too. Be well darlings. xoxo
photos: most of these photos are from my Instagram, follow me!