The good news is that this is a totally normal part of the process of improving your headspace. Here are some things to remember on how to make those tricky days a little smoother.
Remember there are no backward steps
When we make progress, it’s easy to think that it’s all uphill from there. We often imagine and that our improvement will be a straight line, like this:
But thinking that way actually sets us up for a shock when things don’t go to plan. When we have a bad day, it can be easy to think that we’ve gone back to square one, and that all our work was nothing.
But this just isn’t true. Life is complicated, and setbacks are a normal. Actually, they’re part of your progress.
The important thing to look at isn’t how you’re doing this particular day, or hour, or minute – it’s the overall trend. For most people, improving our mental health actually looks a lot more like this:
Yeah, we have dips – and they can suck. But if we stick to it, those dips get shorter and less deep over time. We also get better at bouncing out of them, because we're constantly learning:
- the things that help
- how to recognise when a bad day, week, or month is coming
- how to keep going.
So if you or your loved one is going through a bad patch, remember to put things in context. Think about all the things that have changed – there are a lot of them – and remember that what's going on now will change too.
Stick to the plan
If you’ve got strategies you’ve been using, hard days are the time to bust them out. Right in this moment, you can choose what to do next. Take a breath. Odds are you’ll feel at least a little bit better. Take another one.
It’s about putting one foot in front of the other, step by step. This is a chance to learn and practise – nothing more. Remember to keep things in perspective, you’re doing really well. This will pass – you’ve gotten through stuff before, and you will this time too.
You don’t have to deal with a tough day alone. Sometimes when we’re struggling we can recoil from reaching out – but this is the best time to do it. Friends, family, mob or Elders, mentors and professionals are there to help you. Open up to them, ask their advice, or just say hi – human connection can be a great way to remind you that you’re loved and get your mind onto other things.
If you have a psychologist or social worker, you might want to get in touch with them for support. You could also contact your local headspace centre.