It’s okay to not feel okay – life can be hard sometimes. There are a whole lot of difficult things you could be working through:
- relationship issues and breakups
- work and study stress
- a death or loss
- bullying or abuse
- leaving home
- trying to find a partner
- difficult friendships and social situations
- changes in the family (like parents splitting up)
- sickness and injury
- upsetting stuff that’s happening in the world
- money troubles
- just feeling low.
You already have a bunch of skills you use to get through tough times. Learning new strategies to add to those can make difficult times a lot easier. Here are some tips on how to improve your confidence, boost your mood, and build up your resilience.
When we’re feeling distressed, our breathing often gets shallower. Even a single deep, mindful breath will normally make things at least a little bit clearer. Breathing exercises can ground you and create the space you need to make conscious choice instead of automatic reactions.
A lot of people find the 4-8-7 breath cycle helpful:
- Breathe in through your nose deep into your belly, counting for four seconds
- Hold your breath for eight seconds (or as many as you can up to eight, if you can’t quite make it!)
- Slowly release the breath through your mouth for seven seconds.
It’s a good idea to only do three four of these breaths at a time when you first start to practice.
Meditation can help you build up awareness, calm and resilience. If you haven’t meditated much or at all before, check out our tips.
Even a one-off meditation can help you move to a clearer headspace in that moment. But meditation has the biggest effect on your life when you make it a regular practice. Try building it into a habit by doing it at the same time and place – like on a particular public transport trip, when you wake up or before you go to bed.
Be kind to yourself
When we’re going through a tough time, a lot of us beat ourselves up. We say mean things to ourselves we would probably never say about another person. This isn’t just painful – it also doesn’t help.
A better approach is to treat yourself with forgiveness and compassion. If another person you loved was going through what you are, how would you be with them? Read some ideas on how to grow your self-compassion.
Schedule stuff in
When things aren’t going well, the little stuff often slips. Simple tasks like eating breakfast or having a shower are really important for our headspace. One way to get on top of things is to do some planning. (Haven’t been much of an organiser in the past? That means that you’ll get heaps of benefit out of just a little bit of planning!)
When things are booked in your diary or online calendar, it means you don’t have to juggle all that information in your head. It also helps to make yourself accountable to other people – for a lot of us, it’s a lot easier to follow through on our intentions when someone else is involved.
You might like to get a journal to plan your goals, track how you’re going and reflect on your situation.
Build up other parts of your life
When other parts of your life is going well it’s easier to deal with hard stuff. Pick a few areas focus of your wellbeing on and take small steps to build them up. Some of the best ways to improve your headspace are:
- eating more nutritiously
- cutting back on alcohol and other drugs
- getting a good amount of high-quality sleep
- connecting to other people
- doing stuff you enjoy
- being physically active.
When we’re going through a tough time, speaking to an expert can really make a difference. Get in touch with your local headspace centre