Self-care has become the new holistic approach to treating the displeasure we might get from our day-to-day lives. Bath bombs and jade rollers have replaced therapist and self-medicating is at an all time high. Self-care is also touted as an easier, fun, and more affordable form of calming one’s anxieties and stressors due to its accessibility. However, even self-care in all its accessibility can still appear just out of reach for those of us who are, well… sad.
Being sad sucks. It can alter one’s mood towards self-destruction if allowed to hijack your moral. If the sadness is regular and persistent you may even have a mood disorder such as depression and there are few things in life more awful than depression. If you’re a sad girl with no motivation but the desire to be better to yourself then here are a few things you can do while going through your episode to ensure that you either come out of it better or no worse than when it started.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Sometimes when we’re down in the dumps, indulging in the things that makes us feel better can make us feel worse. There’s this guilt we associate with trying to lift our mood by any means necessary. If you’ve been over eating, or cutting back on activity levels, and have been withdrawing from friends, berating yourself for these behaviors won’t make it better for yourself.
Sadness or depression (which are not the same thing but can have overlapping symptoms) is punishment enough so there’s no need to throw more wood into the fire. If you find yourself over indulging in anti-social and self-destructive behaviors, I recommend the Tripple A technique.
Step 1) Address: By addressing head on what it is you’re about to do and giving a label to the behavior you put yourself in an observational role to your problems. Psychologist have shown that by labeling your negative emotions you are, in a sense, creating a distance between yourself and that negative emotion which allows you more control over how you feel.
The idea is that by giving yourself the opportunity to recognize what you’re feeling you are ultimately giving yourself a choice of whether or not to continue feeling that way or to even determine how long you will feel that way. In my life, the same has worked for negative behavior. By labeling it, addressing it and just bringing awareness to what I am doing, I switch from mindless action to mindful action. That can make all the difference in life sometimes.
Step 2) Assess: After you’ve become aware of what you’re doing, try to figure out why you’re doing it. Probing deeper into why it is that you make certain decisions might not always give you the correct answer, however it will give you something to work with. Most of us tend to hear the voice in our head saying something along the lines of: “Are you really going to stay in bed all day again this week like you did last week?”, “Did I waste my time playing video games and watching Netflix all day instead of studying again?”
In other words, most of us address our problems but fewer assess them. Assessing the issue gives you the opportunity to think about why it is that you’re engaging in behavior that’s doing you more harm than good. Also, sometimes we don’t recognize that we’ve made a bad habit until we realize that we’ve been having the same conversation with ourselves over and over again. If every week you have to ask yourself why for the same action, then the seriousness of a behavior becomes more apparent.
Step 3) Act: After addressing and assessing your behavior the only thing next to do is to act. Will you switch up your behavior or will you still indulge in it? The outcome does not matter. What’s most important is that before you act, you at least commit to doing those two aforementioned steps. We’ve all been told to think before we act or to choose our words wisely.
Doing those things might not always change how you react to certain stressors, but it gives you the opportunity to get to know yourself much better and it is only by knowing ourselves that we can begin to build a life where our weaknesses no longer have an advantage over us. It may not come immediately, but every time you think before you act, you are gaining more knowledge of yourself which is necessary for the lifelong journey of gaining mastery over oneself. And mastery over oneself allows you to make better decisions.
This Too Shall Pass
I’m not sure why the world always chooses to end when one is having a bad day, but just as we’ve survived all the other end of the world predictions so too shall you survive your own end-times predictions. When you’re a sad girl it’s so easy to convince yourself that the negative messages passing through your mind are undoubtedly true. I recommend writing out how you feel and expressing it as deeply as possible. Just lay yourself out on a few sheets of paper and afterwards, burn them.
Writing has always been my go-to for expressing myself, but you may find that drawing or dancing or solving puzzles helps you out. Whichever it is, take a moment to do that. Ideally, every time you think about engaging in behavior that is self-destructive or that is without your best interests, you will instead turn to writing, drawing, or whatever else. Once again, you might not be choosing to study but by not choosing to eat a second party size bag of Doritos moments after having finished the first, you are in a sense, choosing the “middle path”. And once you’re done with that activity you may come to find that what you were feeling was just a fleeting emotion.
None of us are ever perpetually unbothered and that’s normal. However, despite how normal it is to feel sad it can be scary to open up to people. Emotional labor is real and you might feel like you’re being a burden to those around you by being needy in that sense. Understand that anyone who actually loves and cares about you isn’t going to view you opening up to them as burdensome. All those negative voices in your head are not the end all be all to the story of your life.
As long as you remain aware that the bad times don’t last (no matter how bad they feel) and remember to think before you act, then you are taking steps towards being a better version of yourself. Anyone who is taking steps towards being a better version of themselves is leveling up and that goes for sad girls too. Don’t worry about the glitz and glam of another person’s level up journey. Just worry about being better than who you were yesterday.
Lilith is a blogger with an emphasis in writing and reflecting upon social agendas that effect black women. When not at her computer writing she is more than likely still at her computer, programming. On the rare occasion that Lilith isn’t at her laptop you can attempt to find her exploring the Chicago food scene or attending workshops in creative writing.