Sometimes, we’re just not okay. We hurt, grieve, stress, burn out. It’s part of life but it makes us comfortable – and it can really make the people around us uncomfortable. But it’s okay to not be okay. It’s normal not to be okay sometimes. It’s normal to be okay and not okay in the same day – or even in the same hour. So when you’re not okay, then be not okay and try one of the following suggestions. They might make you feel a little more okay that day.*
1. Slow it down. Life is busy and most of us have daunting to-do lists, if not on paper then certainly in our heads. But the beautiful thing about our to-do lists, is that they don’t go away. So when you’re feeling less than okay, slow down for the day – you don’t need to power through. That pressing item will be waiting for you tomorrow or the next day. And if you’re lucky, it will just go away.
2. Fake it til you make it. Sometimes, however, it can help to power through a day. Sometimes we wake up feeling so not okay but we brush our teeth and head out the door to face the day anyway. We set our speed to autopilot, smile, and you know what? By faking it, we end up okay, or at least a little better than not okay. So go ahead and fake it if that makes you feel better.
3. Say you’re okay. “How are you?” “Okay.” Wait! What? Why’d I just say that? I am so not okay. Maybe you said it because it’s easier. Some people are really uncomfortable with discomfort and may try to fix you or your situation if you’re not okay. But your feelings aren’t something to be fixed-they are just something you need to feel. So if you think it’s easier not to disclose, you don’t have to.
4. Go outside. Fresh air is like a miracle drug. Feeling down? Leave the building. Take a walk or just take a deep breath.
5. Call in sick. Of course only you can assess the risk of taking a mental health day. But if you have the paid time off and you’re not putting your job in jeapardy, call it in for the day. It can be exhausting to act okay at work when you’re anything but. And it can be detrimental to your professional reputation if you can’t fake it!
6. Treat yourself. Pamper yourself like you would pamper a friend who is hurting. Get an ice cream. Binge watch Netflix. Go to the movies. Take a nap. Just take care of yourself.
7. Experience art. Whether it’s music, a museum, a beautifully written book, or a walk in the woods, art, and nature, can lift our spirits and remind us that the world is bigger than our current situation. Art can transport us beyond the moment – to a place where we might be okay.
8. Move. It is amazing how powerful the body is in caring for the mind. If you’re hurting emotionally, do something physical. Movement is another powerful method of transporting us from our current state to a more optimistic one.
9. Cry. Not okay today? Let the tears flow. Why fight them?
10. Find a friend. Phone a friend you know, or post to a friend you don’t. Online support groups can be an amazing way to validate your feelings, find a supportive community, and feel a little less alone.
*If you’re not okay for a really long time and it’s interfering in your ability to work, care for your family or yourself, seek the help of a medical professional. And if you’re feeling suicidal please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.