How are you today? When was the last time you answered that question honestly? When was the last time you admitted you weren’t quite okay? Do you stick to a “doing all right” routine even when you are feeling so much more than fine?
Now, why do we all feel like we always have to feel okay, no matter what? Let’s learn the importance of being non-okay and how it can help us grow.
A Plethora of Positivity
First, we need to understand why we even feel the need to deny we’re not okay — and why we may be feeling blue, sad, and less-than-great in the first place.
Social media has an overwhelmingly negative effect on our mental health. As we are constantly exposed to everyone else’s highlight reel, it’s very easy to start looking at our own life as not good enough, not interesting enough, not meaningful enough.
We forget that the people who seem to be having the time of their lives on social media are just like us. They have the same bad days, they feel just as lost as you do, but they fail to advertise the fact publicly.
We also need to remember that our minds are susceptible to negativity bias — we tend to lean into negative information rather than positive reinforcements. We tend to believe the worst of ourselves, even when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.
Overcoming negativity bias is thus just one of the steps we need to take to start feeling okay with not feeling okay.
The Importance of Feeling Low
Feeling positive and upbeat all the time is not only impossible, but it can also lead to toxic thoughts and behaviors that will drag you further down the hole you’re trying to avoid.
The world is made up of opposites. Light and dark, cold and hot, pleasant and unpleasant. You never want to aim to feel and expose yourself only to the good stuff. If you were to do it, you’d start desensitizing yourself in a harmful way. The highs would not seem as high, and you would need to seek out extremely positive emotions to feel good.
Not feeling okay allows you to embrace life to the fullest. It provides a sharp contrast to the great days, which you learn to appreciate more. It provides that much-needed balance that the universe is based on.
There is also nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with feeling low. Don’t let the positivists on social media and all those hustle-based philosophies get you down. You are a human being, and you are allowed to feel all of the emotions you are feeling. You are allowed to slow down and take a break; you are allowed to swerve, to use Michelle Obama’s term. As long as you’re not doing anything harmful to yourself or others, all of your emotions are valid.
What to Do When You’re Not Feeling Okay
The first thing you need to do when you are not feeling okay, whether it is mentally, emotionally, or physically, is to accept it. Don’t demand of yourself to start feeling better. Don’t push against it — embrace it. Slow down, acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, and try to uncover where they are coming from.
Try to quiet your mind and take some time to analyze why you aren’t feeling okay. Has something happened, or are you just having one of those blue days?
If you realize something has triggered your feelings, work on finding a solution, if there is one. There will be situations you can’t change or influence in any way. These should be accepted, no matter how hard it may be, and pushed out of your mind as much as possible.
If you can do something about it, come up with a game plan and start implementing it. Not necessarily right away, but as soon as you feel up to it. Also note that sometimes it’s best to nudge yourself into action immediately, as it helps drag you out of yourself. Your call.
How to Make the Bad Days Go by Faster
When you are not feeling okay, the goal isn’t to make yourself feel better. Well, not exactly.
The goal is to do what you can to improve your mood, without expecting it to change immediately. Be kind to yourself, and let time work its magic.
Here are some tips:
- Get more sleep.
Find a great bed and improve your sleep hygiene.
- Find an exercise you like.
It can be something as simple as dancing around your bedroom to your favorite tunes. Anything that gets your body moving.
- Try some breathing exercises to boost mindfulness.
They’ll help you ground yourself in the moment and recenter.
- Fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods, as opposed to sugar.
While sweets will have a temporary effect and may make you feel better in the short term, they will negatively impact your mood in the long run.
- Consider getting a pet.
Among the many reasons to own a pet, their positive effect on your mental health can’t be advertised enough. They will make you smile and provide some comic relief on a daily basis.
- Find a new hobby.
Sign up for a class you’ve always been interested in or pick up a hobby you used to have when you were younger. You can do something on your own, or you can sign up for something in a group setting that will also help you meet new people.
The key is in finding your own routine that works for you. You don’t have to do something inherently instagrammable, nor do you need to talk about it. If all you want to do is listen to ASMR in the bath, then that’s what you should be doing.
The important thing is not to pressure yourself about it and to just relax your mind and body.
Now that you know that it’s perfectly okay not to feel okay, don’t hold your next bad day against yourself. Embrace it for what it is, cut yourself plenty of slack, and enjoy the good day that is certain to follow.