It happens to the best of us; you’re hit with something you never thought you’d have to deal with, even if you knew that you’d have to deal with it. This can be the death of a parent, spouse, or close friend; a breakup, a job loss, the demise of a pet, or just an accumulation of all the stuff that’s wrong with the world that settles directly onto your shoulders. The result is crippling depression. The thing that goes through people’s heads when they’re confronted with a long period of grief or crisis is “what should I do with myself now?” Here are some of the things you can do for yourself while your emotions run high and wild.
You can’t do this on your own. You need to call in some reinforcements: people willing to check up on you, remember you, and care for you. If there is an errand that you can’t face, call someone to do it for you. Don’t be shy about enlisting the help of your support system in a time of acute emotional stress.
Even if you feel embarrassed for your state or the reason you’re in it, you are still in a period of acute stress and you need to reach out as a way of taking care of yourself. Don’t worry about the judgment of others right now. Just get what you need, and trust that they are happy to be there for you.
Make Sure You Eat
The last thing anyone in a state of deep emotional stress wants to do is eat normal meals, but if you can manage it, it’s the best thing for you. Call a friend and have them bring you some groceries if you can’t stand to do it yourself. It’s not unusual to be unable to eat or to only eat once a day in a time of acute emotional crisis – make that count. Spend a long time thinking about exactly what you would like to eat if you wanted to eat, and then get that thing for yourself.
Don’t choke something down that you don’t want. Rather, rearrange the way you think about meals so that when you do want to eat, you have permission to focus on fulfilling yourself by eating what you want. It’s a small way to get a little bit of your control back, and it works. Trust us, you will feel much better if you’re not wasting away.
Get Some Sun
Take a walk. Look at some trees. Feel however you feel, but move those legs and acknowledge the way the world still goes on around you. Allow yourself to feel awe at the beauty of nature or anger at the indifference of other pedestrians on the street. Take whatever road or path feels right. When you get tired of this, go home again. This isn’t necessarily for exercise as much as it is for reestablishing your connection in the world outside. It might not be a good feeling but do it anyway. You’re going to have to sooner or later, and practice will eventually make perfect.
Meditation is not so much the process of getting outside of your head as it is just sitting there and bearing nonjudgmental witness to the present moment. Put a blanket down on the floor and lie on your back. There are some great guided meditations on YouTube that take out the guesswork, but you can also just focus on your breath and the feelings and thoughts that flood your body until you slowly accept them. Acceptance in a time of grief or emotional stress does not always feel good, but the relaxation aspect usually does. This is a great thing to do before bed, especially if you’ve been sleeping poorly. Look forward to meditation time rather than bedtime, and let your body do what it’s going to do.
Book Yourself an Appointment for Tomorrow
It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if you have to call out of work to do it. What matters is that you have somewhere to go, and once you get there, you’re going to be cared for. This can be acupuncture, a massage, a yoga class, a pedicure, an eyebrow wax, an NA meeting, a prayer session, or anything else that you think might get you across the pain of another day. Schedule something different every day if you have to, but when it’s time to go to the appointment, get up and go to it even if you don’t think you want to anymore.