catAs much as we would like to be believe that we are all reasonable, rational people who behave maturely in every situation, the truth is that people simply aren’t. I’m not. You’re not. Your mother is not.

Even then, we like to believe that the only time that we let our behaviour get out of hand is when we have a serious reason to. When we’re upset because someone has wronged us, or hurt us or died. Then we can lash out and, while it’s not entirely sensible, it is at least justified. When everything is going wrong and there’s nothing you can do about it, the people around you are usually forgiving.

But sometimes, there isn’t a reason. Sometimes, you just feel miserable and you can’t explain why. And a lot of people don’t understand that.

A lot of people can’t.

But it’s not your fault.

Maybe the things that stress you out have caught up with you without you noticing. Maybe there really isn’t a reason and your brain has just forgot to let you feel good.

On those days, all you can do is wait it out and hope that it doesn’t last long enough to do your day to day life any lasting damage.

And while there isn’t much you can do to stop it, there are some things you can do to make it a bit more bearable.

EXERCISE

You’d be surprised how much it helps. When all you want to do is sit and eat popcorn and drink beer and not move much because you feel sluggish and awful, don’t. Get up. Go for a jog. Or a bike ride. Or just a walk to the shop. You don’t need to get supermodel-hot from it, but get your blood flowing. Get your heart rate up and remind your system that it’s got a human being to take care of. The natural endorphins that the brain releases during exercise greatly improve your mood.

GO OUTSIDE

You don’t have to go very far or even for very long if you’re not feeling up to it yet. But go out. To the street, or into your garden or anywhere you can see the sky. Breathe in some fresh air and feel the sun on your face. It’s refreshing. It won’t make your problems go away, but it’ll make you feel a bit more serene.

TALK IT OUT

It might seem silly, when you don’t even know what the problem is. But just talking about life will make you feel better. Vent everything. Talk about how frustrated you are that you feel so bad with no logical reason. Talk about how dysfunctional emotions are. Talk about the week leading up to this feeling. Talk about everything in your life. About your friends and your family and your job and your hobbies and your childhood. Release every secret you’ve ever held onto. It will feel better. If you don’t want to dump all that onto your friends, then write it down. Get a notebook and just splurge every feeling you’ve ever had. Having that weight off you will feel amazing.

DON’T NEGLECT YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES

It can be really difficult when you feel like you don’t want to engage with the world any more, but as much as you can keep doing life the way you usually do. Go to work. Take your kids to school. Clean your house. Do your laundry. All that stuff still needs to be done, no matter how you feel. If you leave it until you feel better, you’ll feel worse for it.

DON’T PRETEND IT’S NOT HAPPENING

Above all, the one thing you should never do is to act like you don’t feel that way. Especially if it lasts a long time, especially if it happens a lot. Do everything you can to get yourself through it. If it is persistent or excessively distressing, talk to a doctor. It’s worth making sure you don’t have a serious problem before you let it tear you apart.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen.

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