Ever have one of those days, when nothing is going right and it looks entirely possible that nothing is ever going to be good again. Of course you have, because we've all been there, and in a way that's actually good news. What it means is that somebody somewhere has probably been through something at least as bad as what you're facing, and the steps to getting through such days are pretty well documented.
Maybe the first thing to do is collapse on the floor and have a really good, soul-cleansing bawl. While that might not sound productive, it's critically important not to skip this step unless there's a life-threatening situation to deal with, in which case you should get yourself and others to safety first if at all possible.
Every emotion has it’s place and that includes sorrow. Trying to push it away it will exhaust you, and pushing it down will only cause it to grow. If you allow it to come up and pass through, you'll often find that it doesn’t last as long as you feared it would. This step is usually followed by some period of staring blankly into space, when it might seem like nothing is happening, but be patient.
After the meltdown, when the energy begins to move again, start with basics and rebuild yourself from the ground up.
1. Feeling lost and confused?
Unplug for 20 minutes and focus on breathing. Whenever you feel out of focus always return to the basics first, and breathing is the most basic thing in life.
2. Are you hydrated?
If not, have a glass of water. Maybe two.
3. Have you eaten in the past three hours?
If not, get some food with protein.
4. Have you bathed in the past 24 hrs?
If not, jump in the shower right now.
5. Have you stretched your legs today?
If not, do so right now. If you don't have the energy for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you can.
6. Have you expressed any gratitude today?
Even on a really bad day we should be able to feel some gratitude for something. Take a moment remember what you have rather than what you wish for. Shifting our perspective even for a moment can make a big difference. Mornings are the best opportunity
7. Have you said something nice to someone else lately?
If not, do so as soon as possible, either in person or online. Make it genuine. Smile.
8. Have you listened to any good music?
If not, put on something upbeat and inspiring. Stay away from sad songs that you know will bring back painful memories. Create a play list of your favorite happy or soothing songs if necessary.
9. Have you seen a therapist?
If not, schedule something today. It's good to talk through things with a pro now and then.
10. Have you changed any medications recently?
That could definitely be affecting you. If it doesn't get better in two days, then talk to your doctor.
11. Feeling ineffective?
Pause right now, take on some small task that seems doable and get it done. Good job!
12. Have you over-exerted yourself?
Stop right now and take a break. Consider getting a massage.
If you've made it this far you're stronger than you think.
Ed Preston is the Founder of The Grief & Trauma Resource Center, an online directory created to provide more accurate information to the general public about grief and trauma. His own decades long journey with grief has lead him down many paths. He holds a degree in Cultural Anthropology, is a scholar of the Orphan Wisdom School, and a breath meditation teacher.