8 Ways to Pull Yourself Out of the Pit of Despair
If there was ever a year in which this article might be necessary, that year would be 2017 the Official Year of Almost Daily Bad News. Sometimes, life is overwhelming. You might feel like you’re a horrible person for not completing that big assignment on time or screwing up a job interview. Or you might worry yourself out of sleeping because you’re afraid you might not complete that big assignment on time or you might screw up that job interview. You may feel overwhelmed by all the things in life you can’t control, your own mistakes aside. So here’s some advice for how to pull yourself out of that pit of despair from someone who spends a lot of time pulling herself out of the pit of despair.
Don’t shame yourself for being in the pit of despair
One surefire way to make yourself stay in the pit of despair is to shame yourself for being there. If you find yourself saying things like “I can’t believe I did this again,” “I always screw things up,” “I never do anything right,” etc. to yourself, take a step back. Now is not the time to remind yourself of every mistake you’ve ever made. It will be tempting to do so, but treating yourself with compassion (especially when you don’t feel like you deserve it) does so much more for your wellbeing. Cut yourself some slack. Humans are designed to make mistakes – making mistakes thankfully has no bearing on whether or not you deserve happiness. Remind yourself of things you’ve done well, or qualities that you like about yourself.
Alter your social media habits
You can only push yourself further into the pit of despair by looking at social media and seeing how great everyone else’s lives appear in comparison to your own. Cut back on your social media time, unfollow accounts that are stressing you out, and follow others that you know will cheer you up. Here are some of my favorites if you don’t know where to start:
Dogspotting (Facebook group) – feed of cute dogs people find throughout the day
@cookielicious_nz (IG) – mesmerizing videos of decorating cookies
@kellycreates (IG) – hand lettering videos
@rubyetc_, @bethdrawsthings (IG) – funny, self-aware comics that hit home when I’m feeling anxious or sad
@catswiththeirtonguesout (IG) – exactly what it sounds like
Cut back on partying
Alcohol makes me feel better temporarily but often leaves me feeling worse (and hungover) the next day. I find it’s often a good idea to check in with myself before I have a drink – and especially to not drink alone – if I’ve been feeling upset. Sometimes I’ll cut back for extended periods if I’ve been feeling sad for a long time and I think that my alcohol consumption is exacerbating that feeling. It may help to tell a close friend who is similarly cutting back, that way you can text each other when you feel tempted and keep each other accountable. It helps to know you aren’t doing it alone.
Take a shower and put some makeup on for no reason
On days when I really don’t want to go to work, I’ll straighten my hair, put makeup on, or paint my nails. Something about the ritual of doing something simple but indulgent for yourself is so calming. I especially enjoy doing this when I’m feeling out of control. I might have no fucking clue what I’m doing with my life but if my lipstick is on point then ¯\_(ツ)_/-
Or, if makeup isn’t your thing, do some other self-care thing! Or do both!
Go outside and go on a walk. Even if it feels like your whole body is glued to your bed and you’re going to have to tip-toe through lava to get out of your apartment, do it. You will feel so much better. You don’t have to be anywhere near nature to do this, either. (I mean nature helps, but dragging yourself out of bed to travel several minutes to nature seems like it would be more annoying than helpful.) Wherever you choose to stroll, people-watching is always fun. And it’s nice to see your neighborhood at a slower pace than you do during your regular routine.
Call a friend
Talking on the phone makes me feel like I’m going to die I hate it so much. Still, I occasionally call friends and ask them how things are going just so I can hear a familiar, friendly voice. You can choose whether you confide in them about feeling overwhelmed, that’s up to you, but every time I’ve done this (even if it’s someone I rarely call) they’ve been excited to hear from me and to catch up.
Find a low-stakes reason to leave your apartment
I like going to the movies when I feel overwhelmed because it gives me a small reason to get out of the house and I can see a friend without needing to have an unnecessarily lengthy or tiring interaction (proud introvert over here sassy waving emoji). You say hi, catch up for a bit, then you get a two hour break, then you get to talk to them about the movie. (You can also go alone, which I do a lot – either way, choose a movie that will improve your mood.) If movies aren’t your thing, go to a convenience store and pick up some ice cream. Sign up for a last minute yoga class. Sometimes I feel ashamed when I spend the entire day at home, so leaving just once, even if it’s for a mundane reason, helps me feel like I did something.
Write down what you’re feeling, and why you think you’re feeling it
Naming and analyzing feelings is so helpful to regaining your sense of self and growing as a person. Sometimes I don’t even fully know what I’m feeling until I write it down, and then all these hidden thoughts come out and I’m just like
Once I have done this, I write down things I could do that might make me feel better. And then I do those things.
So basically, it’s okay to be in a pit of despair. Denying your emotions will only make the pit worse. You have to let yourself feel whatever it is you’re afraid of feeling until you’re not afraid of it anymore. Just remember: The pit doesn’t last forever and there are things you can do to get yourself out of it. And I bet you have plenty of people in your life who would be willing to help you if you want to ask. Who knows? Your friends might be going through stuff too and want your help. (At this point I’m trying really hard not to use this meme but I can’t stop it I’m sorry...)