All humans have some days when it seems like nothing’s going right. Little annoyances or unwanted thoughts start piling up or being more bothersome. The recovery process can be a very emotionally vulnerable time, since it’s such a drastic rebuilding your life. For that reason, you may have a day when cravings feel stronger, difficult emotions seem to come out of nowhere, or it just seems more difficult to cope. Being prepared for these days can help you, and here are a few steps you can take to care for yourself and make it through.
Take a Breath:
In the moments that everything feels out of control, one of the most effective things you can do is bring your attention back on the present moment. No matter how bad it seems like things are going, or how much things are seeming to fall apart, there are stable things in the here and now that you can cling to as like a life-preserver floating in the ocean. Your breath, and the physical sensations of your own body are always with you, a reminder that you are still alive and present to the world around you.
When you feel panicked or overwhelmed, take a few seconds to become aware of your breath and body. You may find that it helps to calm you down, even just a little bit. Bringing your awareness to your breath is something you can do in any situation, without anyone even knowing about it, allowing you to stave off your most overwhelmed thoughts or feelings, and know you’ll make it through.
The moment life starts feeling like too much to handle, it can be a very natural impulse to try to fight off those feelings, to just fake a smile and pretend you feel ok. The problem is that trying to suppress these feelings can easily make them worse. You may even find yourself enduring “second arrow,” or bad feelings that come out of your criticalness over your thoughts or emotions. Thoughts like “What’s wrong with me?” and “Why can’t I just get over it?” can end up making you feel worse, as you expend so much energy trying to make thoughts go away, and increasing your helplessness.
Instead, it might be helpful to be gentle with yourself, acknowledge that you are having a hard day. After breathing deeply, try saying something to yourself such as “I am having a hard day, but I am strong enough to make it.” Recognize that your hard feelings will pass, and things might just get a little bit easier.
Take It Easy:
You don’t have to be perfect. Try to let go of any pressure or sense you have to hold everything together, all the time. An important part of being gentle with yourself means taking some time off, choosing not to engage with things until you feel better. Taking some time off for yourself can be an important space to rest and feel reoriented and more ok. Within the limits of what you feel like you can handle, you can try reflecting on what may be causing you to be in a funk. This means reflecting back on the thoughts running around in your head, reframing “I am such a failure,” to “I am having the thought that I’m not handling life well, and this makes me feel frustrated.”
You can’t control how you feel or everything that happens in your day, but you can use the awareness that your day is extra stressful to carve out some time to be nice to yourself. Whether it’s listening to music, vigorous exercise, an enjoyable hobby, or time to connect with a supportive friend, do something that will make your day enjoyable and a little easier to get through. Even thinking about and looking forward to something can even increase your happiness, and reflecting on the experience afterwards can help you feel gratitude. That means that even a few minutes of something that brings pleasure can make your entire day better.
You are stronger than you know. No matter what happens in your day, you do have the ability to make it through. Sometimes you just have to keep pressing until tomorrow, with the hope things will be easier then. Things will get easier, because no feeling lasts forever. All you can do is do the best you can, one day at a time.