We all have our dark, bleak phases that seem like they'll never end. Guest contributor Alyssa's post will help you see the bright side of life, even when it feels like there's no hope. Thanks so much for the inspiration Alyssa!
During my freshman year of high school I went through a dark period of stress, depression, and anxiety. It was very difficult for me to find happiness in everyday life. I was living in a tunnel and at the end of the tunnel was not a gleaming light, but only darkness. So, my mother took me to a therapist. With that experience, I have learned the incredible tricks and trades of life. Life is not always easy and is certainly not perfect, but there are ways to add sunshine to your days. These lessons I have learned can be applied to everyday life, for the rest of your life.
1. All Relationships Are Different
By this, I mean that you have to treat each relationship different. This does not mean treating people unequal. It just means that some family relationships, friends, and romantic relationships need to be handled different. You cannot always act the same way with everyone. Some people thrive on drama and you may have to be a bit more dramatic with them; others may be chaotic and require someone to be more stable for them. Find out how the people in your relationships respond and react and you will be able to tailor how you react and make life a little less difficult.
During my freshman year I had frequent panic attacks. These panic attacks were extremely scary. I felt light-headed and was gasping for air. My therapist told me that breathing correctly can prevent having an anxiety attack. The correct way to breathe is to take a deep breath of air in through the nose and out through the mouth. Try it! If you don’t breathe this way, which many do not, breathe how you normally do. Then try the correct way. The amount of oxygen you’re taking in is a huge difference! This means more oxygen for your brain and that will allow you to slow down and process more clearly.
3. Make Goals
You will hear this time and time again, in all aspects of life. In school or in work, we make goals for our performances. When working out we have goals for our body. It can be challenging to believe in setting goals. However, this exercise really does work. Start with five tasks that are pressing on your mind, but not particularly the small tasks. Taking the laundry out of the dryer is not necessarily a ‘goal’, but making the phone call you have been putting off about the broken washing machine is a goal. Next, prioritize the goals. Start your day off with a glance at your goals! Once you start to cross off your goals it will give you the boost to continue achieving the other goals. As soon as you finish one, add another one. Never put more goals than you can handle. The point of the exercise is to simplify your life, not to make it more overwhelming.
4. Perceptions Are Dangerous
Perceptions are our own scenarios on an issue or matter. Human beings tend to become very caught up in our perceptions and forget that our perceptions are not facts. To avoid this faulty thinking, remind yourself of the other possibilities. He may have not called you back because he was with his family and did not want to detract from that experience. Or he is afraid to call you back because he thinks his voice sound strange on the phone. These alternate situations should be positive. The cure to perceptions: communication! I once had a complication with my brother and spent weeks angry and upset, but when I had the three minute conversation I found out that my perception was way off. If you are questioning something, very politely ask. Having a conversation and finding out the actual reasoning rather than you perception can save you a lot of negative energy.
5. You CAN Be the Person You Want to Be
Being the person you want to be may not be so hard once you've tried out this exercise. On my first session I was at a loss of words for who I wanted to be. I knew that I did not want to be the reclusive, angry, and sad person I was then. So, my first homework assignment was to make a list of the characteristics I wanted to have. I pulled inspiration from celebrities, my peers, and my family. Do not be discouraged if your list is hefty; this does not mean that you are not that person; it just means that you have to see that you can be that person. Next, pick the quality you want to work on the first. Perform one act that expresses this quality each day. It does not have to be a major, life-changing action. Small actions add up. Keep a journal of your work, too. Write down what the act was, why it pertained to your quality of choice, how if felt during performing, and after. Each week choose a new quality, but continue to do acts from last week. Soon it will be second nature! Don’t forget to read back on your journal and remind yourself that you are a magnificent person!
6. You Have to Be Willing
In many areas of life you have to be willing to change and reflect on yourself in order for results to appear. You cannot walk into the gym and expect a healthy body leaving. You must put in the effort to use the weights and do the exercising. The same principle applies to life. You cannot be happy unless you are willing to. Being happy may take effort. Choosing to change can be difficult, one of the most difficult things in the world. But you will become a stronger person for it and that feat alone can make you happier! If you need a bit of encouragement, just repeat to yourself every morning, as soon as you get out of bed «I am making an effort to change». Using this phrase in the present form («I am» rather than «I want») will encourage you.
7. Be Proud
It is perfectly okay to be proud of yourself. It does not make you arrogant, narcissistic, or egotistical to be proud of the accomplishments you've made. Each step to happiness is an accomplishment and you should always reflect back and pat yourself on the back. Ladies, you are fabulous and acknowledging that only makes you more fabulous.
8. Don’t Lose Faith in the Process
You will fall down in life sometimes. That is a given. During these low points it is easy to lose faith in the process on creating happiness in your life. Change is a process. Think of it like this: a jagged rock in a stream does not change and become smooth with a few days of running water. The rock will only become smooth after time. Sometimes there will be droughts, but that does not indicate the rock will never become smooth. Sometimes there is an abundance of water, but that does not guarantee the rock will become smooth immediately. Changing your lifestyle to a happier, simpler one takes time, so, do not give up on the process.
Therapy has been life-changing for me. I am no longer listening to my sad playlist and staying in bed afraid to enjoy life. I am living life with a radiant smile! There may be falls along the way, but these tips will certainly help you bounce right back. Everybody deserves happiness and I hope this post enlightens everyone to that idea.