Life sucks sometimes, if we are being honest. Sometimes it can feel as though you cannot gain your balance. From time to time, I wonder if the tunnel really has a light at the end. Darkness has a way of wrapping you in its arms like a blanket. You can become so comfortable with it, the way it holds all of you but, it is empty and it hides the light of life. The most courageous battle we fight, is with ourselves but, how do we fight it?
I would consider myself a positive person — I like to look for the good in everything. But I’ve struggled with mental illness for a very long time now and have witnessed just how crippling it can be. I have found myself, at various points in my life, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even when I was happy and felt as though life was wonderful, I found myself scared. Waiting for the next thing to come. Almost as though I was being punished for living. I have felt the pain of loss so severely that I thought it might kill me. Where is the light then?
I’ve learned that life isn’t about sitting around waiting for the light to find you but, rather, about us having the will and the strength to find it ourselves. Now, I’m not perfect and I still get sad and struggle but here are some of the things that help me find the light in the darkest of times:
Ripple effect: There really is no better feeling than doing something kind for another human being. Even the smallest things can brighten so many people’s days. The ripple effect refers to when a drop of water hits a still pond. The drop creates a ripple that spreads all the way to the edge. Think of this drop as something you can do today to spread kindness. You’ll be amazed at how giving and helping others really actually helps you. So, go out today and do something kind. There will always be light and love in life if we remember that we, ourselves, can create it.
Adjust your perspective: When times get tough it’s easy to sink into negativity and dwell on the unfortunate circumstances. Yes, it’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to cry. Crying may not help the situation but it is healthy and 100% okay so never let anyone make you feel like it’s not. Your feelings are valid but, it does you no good to dwell in the sadness. Eventually, the time will come where you will have to pick yourself back up again and find ways to cope. My absolute favorite quotes that help me even on the hardest days are:
“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson
“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller
Be active: Going for a run or doing a high intensity workout always helps relieve my anxiety. Something about pushing myself till I am aware of every muscle in my body, the blood flowing through my veins, and my heart pounding in my chest. Yes, everything will still be there when you’re done but it just might feel a little smaller and less scary.
Acknowledge negative thoughts: Okay, I’ll be honest this is a hard one. Somedays you feel like you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed and you are destined to be grumpy the whole day no matter how much you don’t want to be. It is easy to focus on the negative things in life. Learning to acknowledge these thoughts and letting them go is hard, but it can be done. Sometimes being positive takes work and you just have to be willing to put that work in. Try to actively call out negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Our minds are OURS and we can train them.
Do something you <3: Whenever I get stressed I feel like there is no time for anything but work. It’s finals week as I write this, yeah, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing this when I should be nose deep in my International Relations textbook. The answer is, it is important to have a release, a break from studying to do something you enjoy. I have a tendency to feel guilty for taking time for myself but it helps create a balanced, healthy mind and that, in turn, will help you in all aspects of your life. You can always find a few minutes to take for yourself and to do something you enjoy. So, go do it! (You can even sit and make a list of all of the things you’re grateful for.)
Always remember to be patient with yourself and to not be so hard on yourself. We are our biggest critics so while you’re busy being kind to others, don’t forget to be kind to yourself.