These days we hear the phrase “It’s ok not to be ok” a lot.  While there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues, we have come a long way and people are more open to share their experience and/or accept those who share, rather than judge or shame them. 

We don’t expect it to happen to us, though.

Everyone goes through times in life where things aren’t happening as planned… we suffer a great loss, our job isn’t going well, our child receives a diagnosis we weren’t prepared for, we didn’t get into the college we wanted, too many household appliances break down at once... Various issues at varying degrees of life impact.  It is beyond normal for an issue of concern to knock us off balance and it can be hard to navigate on this new, rocky path.  So, yes… It is ok to not be ok.

But, have you considered that you can be more than just “ok?”  We can navigate life’s disappointments and tragedies and come out stronger…and happier?

When life is out of balance and the “shoulds” (I should be over this by now, I should do the laundry, I should be a better friend, I should move from this spot) have taken over and are sending us deeper into despair, there is still hope.  Hope that things will get better.  Truly believe that they will get better.

Here are a few steps to keep in mind as you head down the road to “good.”

You are not alone in this!  Circumstances may be different for each person, but everyone goes through a dark time in one form or another.  Find someone you trust and talk through it with them. More than likely, they will have insight to give on how they got through their own dark time.

Be mindful. Pay attention to the thoughts and actions that push you down. Do what you can to eliminate those from daily life.  If it’s a situation or a job causing the unhappiness, consider what you can do to get beyond it. And, if it’s a situation you need to get yourself out of, work on a plan to do it wisely.

Focus on the good.  Yes, today may have been a really bad day, but there was something that wasn’t quite as bad as everything else… Think on that. And, on the good days, be thankful for the reprieve.  Look at what went well, consider why it happened that way and aim for more good days.

Forgive yourself.  There may be days when just the thought of moving can be paralyzing.  That’s ok. Take a break. But, don’t allow these days to take over... Push through them as much as you can.  Forward motion is key. Even if you’re taking small steps, you’re still moving. The problem comes when you are stagnant; when you allow the darkness to take over and keep you from pushing forward.

Get plenty of rest.  Not getting enough sleep can cause bigger issues.  Plan ahead for bedtime… Stay away from caffeine and sugar later in the day.  And, keep your bed and bedroom a welcoming and comfortable place that is free from distractions like tv, your computer or cellphone.

Make time for exercise.  It’s proven that daily exercise boosts your mood and is helpful in reducing stress and anxiety.  Take a walk. Ride a bike. Exercise or do yoga along with an online video. There are so many options for being active… and, many of them don’t cost anything! You can even turn it into positive family time that everyone can enjoy.

Plan time for yourself. Do something you enjoy… read a book, go outside and take photographs, go see a movie.  It can be hard to find time to yourself, but it’s important that you have time to recharge.

And, most importantly…  Seek out help, if you need it.  If you feel like you can’t walk through this darkness on your own, reach out for professional help.  There is no shame in bringing someone alongside you to help navigate the journey. They can provide tools and insight to help you get to the other side.

TrueNorth is here, if you need us! We have a staff willing to help you navigate the rocky road and get back on the path to “good.”  We want to help you get beyond “ok,” to a happy and fulfilling life!  It can happen… we’ve seen it!