I am writing this because I wish I would have seen something like this earlier – I wish somebody would have taught me how to be mentally stronger during the dark days.
This past weekend was a bit of a struggle for me. I was mentally exhausted, emotionally drained, and was in one of those negative ruts that I experience every so often. I felt incredibly weak, vulnerable, and found myself starting to revert back to old habits – old habits that aren’t mentally or physically healthy.
We all experience bad days, but if you are somebody who has dealt with depression in the past, you know all too well how grueling these days can be.
One doesn’t normally “feel better” after just one day. It generally takes a few days, or even upwards to a week of experiencing these thoughts that suck every ounce of enjoyment out of life to get back to feeling like your normal self.
Building mental strength is a fundamental step towards living a better life. Just as we go to the gym to develop a healthy lifestyle, we must also find ways to develop our mental health as well. Optimal mental health helps us to find enjoyment in life, to live a life that we are excited about, to have meaningful relationships with those around us. Without developing a sense of mental strength, we struggle to take risks, to try anything new, and to find any enjoyment out of the most basic and pleasurable activities.
Nobody should have to live that way.
That is why I want to share with you 7 ways to be mentally stronger when you feel depressed. These tips are some of the very same ones that I used just this past weekend to help me overcome my negative emotions and
1. Confront your emotions.
Whatever you do, don’t act like your negative feelings don’t exist. When you act as if they don’t exist, you are just building to the chaos and strength of these negative thoughts. Eventually, they will consume you even more than they already have.
Think about it like this. If an alcoholic does not recognize that they have a drinking issue, what is the likelihood that they are going to stop drinking? If they do not see their drinking as a problem, then there is no desire to take the steps necessary to overcome it.
The same goes for your emotions. If you do not recognize how you are feeling and act like everything is fine, you are only adding to the chaos that lives inside of your head. That’s why, in order to be mentally stronger, you need to first be willing to admit that you are experiencing negative emotions in the first place.
2. Let go of control.
One of the reasons why I found myself reverting back to old habits was because I needed something to control. When I become stressed, I immediately look for anything comfortable and familiar. During the times of experiencing depressing thoughts, I fail to remember that by seeking control, I am only letting myself slip backward instead of moving forward.
When we try to control everything, we are only limiting ourselves to our own perception. This doesn’t mean that our perception is wrong, but it’s only one point of view. Instead, learn to surrender. Learn to let whatever happens, happen, to be open, and to expand your knowledge and beliefs as much as possible.
3. Don’t dwell on the past.
Don’t look back – you’re not going that way. When you are feeling vulnerable, it’s easy to look back on life ( even on the present) and find all that is wrong in life. It’s easy to allow your past to tell you what you can and can’t achieve moving forward. But that won’t do you any good.
For me, one of the things that helps me to move forward is to look at all of the possibilities that are ahead of me instead of what is behind me. No matter how good or bad it may have been, my past does not define me. It simply helped to shape me into the strong individual that I am today.
Despite how you may be feeling, it is important to keep perspective on the fact that what is happening in your life right now and where you are at does not determine your future life. You can achieve anything that you want to achieve. Just keep moving forward with all of your might and never dwell on the past because you won’t be able to change it anyhow.
4. Ask for help.
There is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, asking for help is going to be one of the best things that you can do for yourself.
If you try to take on the world alone, you are only going to fail. Unless you ask for help from those around you and from those who care about you the most, you are never going to get any insight as to how you can actually overcome your emotions. Believe it or not, others have felt the pain that you are currently feeling and would love to help you to overcome it.
And I get it, when you are feeling down and depressed, asking for help can leave you feeling even weaker than before. But just know that the outcome is going to be better. Everybody needs help at different times in their lives, and without asking for it, we will never receive it. There is no shame in asking for help. It shows that you have a desire to overcome your obstacles and that you are brave enough to admit the existence of these obstacles.
5. Identify unhealthy thought patterns.
When I was struggling and found myself slipping back into old habits, I had to force myself to calm down and reflect on the fact that the habits I was reverting back into no longer reflected who I am as a person or who I want to become.
I am strong. I am more than a number on a scale or the number of calories that I consume. I am better than the opinions of others. I am me and that is my greatest strength.
It’s not easy to conquer old habits when you are feeling weak and vulnerable, but it’s important to remember that old habits don’t define the individual who you are today. If you want to be mentally stronger, then take a moment to identify the unhealthy thought patterns that you are thinking about and do your best to overcome them. Perhaps start by using positive affirmations.
6. Talk it out with those around you.
If you are really struggling with your thoughts and feelings, talk to someone. Negative thoughts are not going to do you any good when they are stuck inside of your own head. And if it’s not working to talk to somebody else or you are worried about being judged (don’t worry, no decent human being will abandon you in the time of need) perhaps it might be time to seek help from a mental health professional.
I am lucky enough to have my family by my side. Every person in my family has experienced the very same thoughts that I have, so they know exactly how I am feeling. When I am feeling down, I talk with them. Not only because they care about me, but also because they usually give me some insight on things that I can do to overcome my emotions. Even just talking with them and releasing all of my emotions helps to feel as if the weight of the world is being lifted off of my shoulders.
7. Never stop believing in yourself.
Self-belief and faith in yourself are what’s going to keep you going when you feel like giving up. No matter what you do, never stop believing in yourself and never lose faith in all that you are capable of achieving.
It can be challenging to believe in yourself when you are feeling broken, and it can be hard to be hopeful about the future when you feel so much pain inside. Just remember that your pain and heartache is only temporary. Nothing lasts forever. Keep your head high, focus on all that you do have instead of what you don’t, and never stop believing in yourself.
Life isn’t always going to be easy. We are all going to be tested and challenged on a daily basis. This past weekend, I will admit that I felt as if I was being tested and challenged to the point of breaking.
These are some of the things that help me to be mentally stronger. Nothing is going to change overnight, but if you keep at them, you will start to make strides towards living a better life each and every day. Keep your focus on becoming the person who you want to be, not the person you were in the past.