You know those days that require an extra large glass of wine and a Netflix-binge session featuring Friends? The days where you do so little but still feel so exhausted? The days where you tell yourself “fake it until you make it” but by 2pm you’re crying in your car while blasting Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”?
Okay cool, because SAME. The last few weeks (OKAY maybe like month) for me have been.. heavy. And straining. And a test for my mental health. Without diving too much into what has caused me so much pain, the two events that have hit me the hardest have been the loss of my dog, Joey, who also happened to be my best friend. It’s almost been a month and I still to this day cannot go downstairs at night to watch my DVR shows (we always did this together), or look at any pictures of him. It’s still too much.
The second event that has left me completely devastated happened last Tuesday night.
I mean it wasn’t a huge deal and nobody’s really talking about it but.. *I say sarcastically*
The election has rocked me to my core. The two words that come to mind when I think about how this played out are sickening and disgusting. Truly, as a writer and a lover of books these are the ONLY TWO WORDS I can come up with. I was left speechless. A narcissistic man that had the most hate-filled, racially charged campaign with a dose of sexual assault and xenophobia is now the President-elect of the United States of America. I could write an entire novel on my feelings about the fact a sociopath is running our country, but I don’t want this post to be on what is making my recent days so hard.
Instead, I want this post to be about what makes my hard days easier. I think that’s the problem with a lot of us twenty-something’s. We are constantly dealing with these stressors and the pressure that comes with this decade, and we don’t give ourselves enough time to deal with the bad days appropriately.
So then what happens?
We get stuck in this vicious cycle of tucking away our hard moments and negative emotions because we frankly just don’t have time to deal with it. But then, 2 months down the road, something minor like forgetting to make a manicure appointment happens and HOLY SH*T ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.
So, although it seems so much easier to not deal with tough times, in the long run it is always beneficial and healthy to face them head on. Get in the habit of working on yourself and learning how to properly handle hard times, and you will soon find this will be one of the best things you do for yourself in your 20s.
So, for my fellow twenty-something warriors that are having a bad mental health day (or, ya know, dayS), here is what I do to battle them and get myself back on track:
Spend Time Alone
•Seems kind of counterproductive, right? I know, I get it. When I have a bad mental health day I find myself listening to the negative thoughts in my head and I end up driving myself crazy. However, this only happens when I convince myself getting out of bed is too exhausting. Don’t do this. Don’t be me! TREAT YO’SELF. Go out to your favorite lunch spot. Bring your favorite book. Get your nails done. Go on a hike. Get a massage. Exfoliate. Put your phone AWAY. You always need to be your top priority, ESPECIALLY on a hard day. It is empowering to be comfortable enough to go out alone and enjoy it. Plus, you know best what you love — So make it happen!
Read + Listen
•A good way to get away from your negative headspace? Fill it with fictional bliss or inspiring words. I’ve always been a lover of books and the benefits from diving into a new Barnes and Noble find will always be top of my list, but recently I have dabbled in the podcast world and I have to say: I am hooked. Sometimes all you need is someone else telling you it will all be okay, and maybe a few tough love lines to kick your badass butt back into gear. A hard day can be turned into a productive one, depending on where you decide to use your energy. My advice? Use it for your own good. Get inspired. Listen to advice. Keep on keeping on.
My current favorite podcasts (ps, my favorite way to listen to these is through my aux cord on my commute to school!):
1. Happier by Gretchen Rubin
2. Raise Your Hand Say Yes by Tiffany Han
3. The Lively Show by Jess Lively
4. Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert
Throw your Nikes On + WORK (on your fitness)
•I can’t believe I’m a person that is promoting exercise. Why? BECAUSE I HAVE ALWAYS HATED EXERCISE. I’m one of those. Ya know, like always walked the mile in school and avoided working out like the freaking plague. But, I am happy to report I no longer suffer from Hate Exercise Disorder. I mean, I don’t love it by any means but I have personally experienced the benefits from working out and that was enough to change my ways. In a physiological sense, getting exercise literally releases “feel good” neurotransmitters in the brain. The increase of serotonin you get after a workout is associated with good health and mental wellbeing. So, spending at least 30 minutes out of your day working out may seem daunting at first, but as soon you you reap those feel good benefits you will find yourself craving a workout when you are feeling down. It’s a freaking win-win! And treat yourself to a glass of Pinot Grigio after. You deserve it.
•I am going to school and getting a degree so I can spend my life helping others. It’s my passion. And I have a feeling that I am not the only one who feels so much better after being able to help someone else. It’s infectious! Anytime I am having a hard mental health day, I like to spend time focusing on myself and my needs, but I always keep in mind there are people out there that would do anything to have YOUR life and your struggles, compared to the hand of life they have been dealt with. This is an important reminder. And I have been lucky enough to go to a school that makes it easy for us to help out those in need — Whether it be volunteering at a food bank, answering calls at a suicide hotline, or giving food and blankets to the homeless. No deed is ever too small when you are helping someone else.
My advice to create a win-win situation for you AND someone else who may need it: Give. Give your time, give your love, or give your advice. The smallest act of kindest can make the biggest impression.
With everyone and their mom talking about the election, I know that many may be over anything political. However, this election has affected too many people and instilled fear in our country like I have never seen before. So, I will continue to talk about it. And my advice for this confusing time? SPREAD LOVE. We need it right now. A man that based his entire campaign on hate and fear may have won, but we are better than that. Rise above it.
Cry today, organize tomorrow. This is something I have to keep reminding myself of. There is nothing we can do about the results, but there is sure a lot of things we can do to protect those most threatened by a Trump presidency. Because this election cycle has brought out a passion in me I never knew was there, I have spent the last couple of weeks calling around and reaching out trying to figure out ways how I could help. I wanted to share what I have found with you all. Just knowing there were small things I could do to help those most vulnerable left me feeling more hopeful and optimistic than I have been since Election Night. I needed this, and I know there’s a lot of you out there that need this too.
→If you are currently in school, check in with the leadership program. Through my campus, I was given the number to volunteer for the LGBT suicide hotline. The increase in calls these hotlines have received since the election night is truly heartbreaking. Volunteers are greatly appreciated and even more so, needed right now.
→Call your Senator or Member of Congress: Call your local representative and voice your concern about the ideas and policies that Trump is proposing. Here is a thorough “We’re Your Problem Now” calling sheet. It has contacts for elected officials, sample scripts, and issues to organize around.
→Donate: Money is critical for organizations. Consider donating to a mix of local on the ground efforts and national groups. Here are a few organizations that could use our support:
MPOWER CHANGE (organizing of Muslim community): https://mpowerchange.org
DEFINE AMERICAN (immigration): https://www.defineamerican.com
TREVOR PROJECT (LGBTQ young people): http://www.thetrevorproject.org
COLOR OF CHANGE (criminal justice): https://colorofchange.org
PLANNED PARENTHOOD (women’s health): https://www.plannedparenthood.org
With twenty-seven years under my belt and countless days of feeling hopeless, depressed, and anxious, I get it. I understand the darkness that you are feeling and I understand the fear the unknown can bring. Although there is no easy fix, there are ways to help you get out of your bad mental health funk and back into the routine of life as a 20something. In addition to following the above steps, I always urge those suffering consistently to talk to a counselor. A couple years ago when I was at my absolute lowest, walking into my counselor’s office for the first time was the best decision I have ever made. She brought me back to life and was able to help me more than I could have ever imagined. She was even one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place! Can we talk about #TherapistGoals ?!
It’s also important to remember that whatever you are going through, your feelings are valid. Your struggles are going to shape you. And your hard times will always have a purpose. So stay strong. Stay motivated. Drink lots of iced coffee and dance to a lot of Taylor Swift. YOU GOT THIS, you badass 20something!
With so much love and understanding,