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When all else fails

Tags: Health

Ten things to do when nothing's working

You were going OK, feeling pretty good, the coping methods were working – and suddenly, you feel like you're going backwards.

This can last a day or two, or a week or two, but when you're feeling 'blagh' a day can seem like forever.

So here are some tips to get you through when nothing seems to be working ...

  1. Don't catastrophise about it – this can induce secondary S.A.D. (feeling stressed about being depressed for example). One bad feeling is enough.
  2. Don't beat yourself up about it; "I haven't been trying hard enough" – stop it!
  3. If you get worse late in the afternoon - allow for natural rhythms – like changing seasons, monthly hormonal shifts (you get them too guys – watch out for that); also our big circadian rhythms. We have one circadian rhythm that ends between 3:30pm and 5:00pm (I call it the "5 o'clock shadow"), when we feel tired, lacking in energy and everyone flocks to the coffee machine for a stimulant or it's 'chocolate time', or else you feel 'wired'. Listen to your body and brain – they're saying "We're tired and stressed and we need to rest" - try and have a short power nap if you can. Have a cup of tea and take the time to drink it - don't have a sip and let it get cold on your desk or on the bench top. If you're still wired it means "We're tired and stressed, and we need to rest" – try and slow down. Whether you're 'wired' or 'tired' try intensely focusing on something else – a puzzle – work – an object – or an affirmation.
  4. Check that you really have done everything you can to feel better. There may be something you've overlooked that could calm you down or give you a lift.
  5. If you really have done everything you can and nothing's working – and you're tempted to give in to it or your brain is wanting you to catastrophise – tell it STOP!! - take a deep breath (smile) – let it out slowly – and then re-focus on something else. Make sure your thoughts are working for you, not against you – then just let it be – accept whatever's happening – it is what it is - go with the flow and accept the discomfort.
  6. Remember it will pass. Don't give up. Be patient and persist, be positive and have perspective. Don't give in to cognitive distortions like "This will never end" – it will!.
  7. Make use of your supports – call someone.
  8. Manipulate your environment – make it warmer, cooler, get some flowers (even one can cheer you up), make it lighter or dimmer – put the fire on if you're lucky enough to have one.
  9. Check your attitude – if it's not helping – do an attitude adjustment.
  10. Check your body language. If you're hunched over and 'shrivelled up' this will not encourage your self-confidence. Straighten up, expand your chest and smile. Remember the military thing "Shoulders back, chest out, chin up" – it gives you courage because it can change your body chemistry and send a message to your unconscious that you're brave and not at risk.

Waiting for it to pass before you do anything hurtful or harmful to yourself or others is most essential. It might seem like a long time but most of the time it eventually passes. If it hasn't after a reasonable period of time, or you feel at risk – make sure you see your psychological and medical practitioners.

Do  you have any favourite tricks in your first aid kit? If so, by all means post a comment and share with our readers.

Lifeline Australia - 13 11 14
Mensline Australia - 1300 78 99 78
Beyondblue - 1300 224 636
Suicideline Victoria - 1300 651 251
Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline - 1800 551 800