We talk about how to handle challenging weeks and months when they pop up unexpectedly or become relentless with the bad news or hurdles they provide. For many, that overwhelming feeling of being bogged down beneath a recent history of financial, marital, familial, societal, and/or work-related stress often leads us to reach out to trusted or loved ones for some mental encouragement. We try to face each new day optimistically and with a blank-slate perspective, certain the bad of yesterday cannot continue to follow us throughout our days moving forward.
So what happens when not just each week, but each day, becomes a struggle? How do we handle a day that is so mentally, emotionally, possibly even physically challenging that we feel as though we are just digging ourselves a deeper hole? If we face additional challenges such as depression or anxiety, each day may become that much more difficult to face. It may be 2 pm and you are staring at the clock, frustrated, overwhelmed, and completely uncertain how you’re going to make it until the end of the day. So let’s talk more about how to develop daily strength and some tips for daily mental wellness.
1. Talk or write
What is it about this day that has become so challenging? Are you overwhelmed, fatigued, feeling like a failure or do you have a headache? Talk it out to someone nearby or write it down. Looking at these feelings in front of you or hearing them come out of your mouth may provide the mental stimulation you need to work through them. Most feelings do have a “bandaid” approach that can be used to help get you to the end of the day at the very least. For instance, drink some water, have a snack, take a short walk, set a small goal for the next hour, listen to music. Acknowledging the day as being mentally exhausting and then trying to work through the rest of it shows strength in itself - keep going!
2. Drink an 8oz glass of water
This will provide a quick boost of energy, soothe any muscle aches or cramps, and help to “defog” your mental clarity.
3. Set little goals to make it through the next few hours
“In the next hour, I will …” “by the end of the afternoon, I will have ... “. Breaking the day into smaller chunks, particularly when you’re having a mentally challenging day, will help you to feel less overwhelmed and more accomplished. Celebrate the little things if it helps provide a mental boost and means to get through the rest of the day.
4. Turn on some music
Listen via headphones, quietly at your desk, or loudly if you’re able! Research shows listening to music can enhance memory and productivity and improve mood.
5. Get moving
A quick walk up and down a corridor staircase or walk around the outside of your home or office can help clear your mind, stretch your limbs, and improve your mood. This may be the mental break you need away from coworkers, children, your spouse, or just the office itself.
6. Eat some dark chocolate!
This is likely your favorite suggestion on this list and yes, even research supports the theory that dark chocolate, in particular, helps to improve mood! The resveratrol in dark chocolate aids in the immune system and the release of both endorphins and serotonin, chemicals responsible for the feelings of calmness and contentment. Just pop a piece or two (serving suggestion is one serving per day, so stock up!) and remind yourself that no day lasts forever.
7. Meditate to make it through the day’s challenges
There are some great versions meant for daytime use that won’t lull you off to sleep. There are also some great guided meditations for when you only have two to five minutes to spare and even those are a great distraction and pick-me-up for when you’re having a tough day. Taking time to deeply breathe and release stress may be just what you need to make it until bedtime.
8. Take a quick shower
If a shower is unavailable, at a bare minimum, apply a favorite-scented body lotion (if you aren’t in an office where it might bother someone else!). Of course, this applies more to if you’re at home and struggling to get through the day. This may be a great solution for a new mom at home during maternity leave or someone who typically works from or stays at home. A warm shower may help to provide mental clarity or provide some quietness for a few minutes. A body lotion in your favorite scent could be a little mental boost as your nose recognizes the familiar and welcome smell as well.
9. Reach out to a loved one or trusted friend
Even if you’re only able to have a quick conversation, hearing the voice of or receiving a text from someone who typically makes you happy could do a lot for your current mood and give you the mental ability to make it to the end of the day.
10. Plan some alone/rest time for yourself
You’ve already acknowledged that today is not an easy one. You feel as though you’re struggling and the thought of doing it all over again tomorrow is literally crippling. This is a good time to plan some relief for yourself. Put in for a day off tomorrow or several days from now if that is an option, schedule a day on the weekend to pamper yourself or plan a day where you’ll just spend at least half of it resting - reading, walking, writing, or just watching TV. The first step to getting through anything is to recognize what is going on. The second is to help combat the contributing variables and prevent them from happening again - that’s where a “self-care day” comes into play.
These tips aren’t all-inclusive and of course, do not apply to every situation. You’re not always going to be able to have the ability to take days off, take a hot shower, or listen to music, particularly if you work in a company setting. However, recognizing these little ways to encourage you to conquer the rest of your day could be helpful when the settings are appropriate. We get it, sometimes, just making it hour by hour throughout the day can feel overbearing. Please be sure to find time to spend on why these days happen.
Do you perhaps have undiagnosed anxiety or depression? Are your nutritional habits not as good as they could be? Is interrupted or poor-quality sleep to blame for days like these? We want you to always feel your best, so be sure to treat yourself as the number-one priority that you are!
By Ashley Lavoie (U.S), for Let's Talk Coaching
Opinions expressed by Let's Talk Coaching contributors are their own.