There’s a saying – ‘An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.’
So essentially, when life is pulling you back and taking things away it is preparing for new things, making room for better things.
Have you noticed that ‘bad things’ all come at once? Life as I knew it a few months ago has been turned upside down and my physical and mental health have deteriorated as a result. But I’ve had an amazing year this year which I am incredibly grateful for and unfortunately that’s life – there are ups and downs and good times can’t be good without the bad.
Yet the bad things aren’t really bad. Perspective is everything – you see them as bad, but if you look at them they are only bad to you because of your opinion and circumstances. Look at what it is you are unhappy about. You may not see a way it could ever be viewed as good. But something good will have (or already has) come from it. You were expecting another outcome – so when the outcome is unfavourable, it’s an understandable blow and knock to your confidence and self-esteem and the plans you had.
It’s also a gift that they all come at once; as happiness often does. Here’s why I think it’s good sometimes to have a complete ‘meltdown’:
- You’re forced to re-evaluate, and often see that things can now be better. You take a step back and see that perhaps you’d fallen into a comfort zone which whilst it may have felt like it suited you actually wasn’t the best.
- Perhaps you lament the way things were and struggle to cope with the changes which have suddenly come about in your life. We are creatures of habit; no-one likes change, especially when it is unexpected and unwanted. But these things happened for a reason. Try and remember the last time things fell apart for you – chances are you felt exactly the same then. But when things were good afterwards, you were pleased that they had done or had perhaps forgotten how hurt you were in the first place.
- It gives you the opportunity to reflect and learn from your mistakes. You now have time to think about what has happened, and how you can learn from the experience to ensure that in the future you can employ the knowledge and strength you are gaining. Don’t, however, beat yourself up over your mistakes (I’m a perfectionist, I do this daily). It’s draining, counter-productive and unnecessary. At the end of the day we all make mistakes – and that’s okay, as long as you learn and grow from them.
I wrote a post last Christmas about the pressures and stresses of what is supposed to be a happy time of year on those with mental health difficulties. I wanted to write another to reiterate that if you are struggling, you are not alone, and you certainly shouldn’t feel bad about it!
It’s such a beautiful, magical time of year. Many of us probably have fond memories of incredible Christmases as children, when we could appreciate the full effect of it all.
However as adults, contrary to the trials and tribulations of daily life being put on hold for a few days, those problems continue or are often exacerbated as the festive period nears. Whilst most people love Christmas, a fair few will admit that they struggle with it more than they let on. In general for the whole population, there are increased financial pressures with copious amounts of food and gifts to buy and parties to attend, plus the worry of the Christmas diet deterioration. In addition perhaps you have had a difficult year, a bereavement, a break-up, job loss or financial worries and the coming celebrations only serve to remind you of happier times or of what you have lost rather than what you have.
For those with anxiety, depression or an eating disorder however, Christmas poses a number of difficulties and can be an incredibly stressful time. An onslaught of social situations and works dos with an accompanying barrage of small talk, alcohol and food coupled with the pressure of appearing to be happy and to enjoy yourself when that is the last thing you feel like doing is often hard to deal with. Feeling alone when you’re surrounded by people is often one of the worst forms of loneliness.
Here’s a few of my own tips for getting through the Christmas period if you are struggling:
- Try to make time for yourself. Take time to read a book, browse Pinterest, light some candles, watch some telly or have a long shower or hot bath.
- Go for a walk. Take some time out in nature. Spend time with animals or pets.
- Avoid getting blind drunk. It only serves to make you feel worse afterwards.
- Keep your routine. Routine is important for good mental health and recovery. It can sometimes be disrupted around Christmas with parties and impromptu shopping trips. If you have an eating disorder, explain to your family that it would be helpful if your general and meal routines were kept as similar as possible and make sure that they are aware that eating out unexpectedly may still be difficult and stressful for you.
- Push yourself. Not too much, of course; but just out of your comfort zone. This is how you grow and recover and develop – chances are if you go to that gathering you’ve been invited to, you’ll have a lovely time and won’t have to feel guilty for turning the invitation down, as well as missing out. You’ll form new or closer relationships with others which helps with social anxiety. Don’t be scared of using this time as an opportunity to do ‘scary’ things and push your boundaries.
- Give to others. It’s the time of giving! Whilst it shouldn’t be your motivation for doing so, giving to someone else will help you feel better about yourself. If you find yourself with spare time, why don’t you take some food to the homeless shelter or help at the local old folk’s Christmas party? Buy a stranger a coffee, or offer to help a friend. You’re helping others but you are also inadvertently helping yourself.
- Don’t feel bad for feeling bad. You can’t help how you feel. If you’re making positive changes then you are making an effort and trying your best – don’t be hard on yourself if you are finding it difficult to enjoy yourself and don’t let others make you feel bad either (it’s easier said than done, I know).
- Try to live in and appreciate the now, the small things. A hot chocolate in Starbucks, a few flurries of snow, seeing a relative you haven’t seen in years. The little things are the best things. You only get so many Christmases; and even if it’s not a time you enjoy, it’s minutes, hours and days of your life. Try and enjoy this time in any way you know how. You might just surprise yourself J
It’s important not to forget that whilst we should never trivialise or compare problems of our own to others as it is always relative, some people are completely alone at Christmas. Many elderly people, as well as those who are depressed or live alone can feel very down and very isolated over the festive period. If you are able to, please try to reach out to someone you know who may be struggling at this time, and please don’t berate them for not being full of festive cheer.
I found this Jar of Positivity on Pinterest, and just had to share this great idea! It’s something you can prep now in time for January, or start straight away.
I love putting all my special photographs into albums and looking through them when I feel down to remind me of all the good memories and fantastic things in my life that I have to be grateful for. This is very much the same principle; yet uses words and is easier and less time consuming to do.
On January the 1st (or anytime!) get a nice big glass Kilner jar and decorate it however you wish. You might not want to decorate it – but I would because I’m a girly girl! Then as good things happen, make a note of them on some paper, fold it up and place it in in the jar. At the end of the year (or whenever you’re feeling down) take a look through your notes. They will remind you to focus on the good and remember all the positive things that happen in your life and surround you – even though it’s difficult to see them sometimes. Regain control and power over how you feel – in a very simplistic way!
Let me know if anyone is doing this – I think I am going to start mine on January 1st and do this next year.