Has day-to-day life become a struggle? Have you been feeling out of sorts for a little too long and are unsure why?
Feeling off from time to time isn’t ideal but it’s also entirely normal. At the end of the day, most of us are more or less in the same boat, striving for meaning and happiness.
Sometimes, however, the rigors of everyday life get to us and we need a bit of a nudge to move forward. Other times, things are more serious and require professional help.
Where do you fall in this spectrum? If you’re unsure, then maybe I can help. In this article, I’ll walk you through nineteen tips if you haven’t been feeling like yourself of late.
Perhaps with a few adjustments, you can eventually reclaim your best self. And if you don’t feel the situation is immediately fixable then, well, we have some feedback for you too.
Let’s dive in!
1) Embrace mindfulness
When you’re mindful, you’re also more adept at emotionally regulating things, which promotes the ability to manage feelings without becoming overwhelmed.
By staying in the present moment, you effectively distance yourself from past traumas and future anxieties, reducing stress and negative feelings in the process.
This isn’t some pseudo-scientific psychobabble either. Mindfulness is becoming more and more medically relevant each day.
According to the University of Southern California’s School of social work, for instance, “research has increasingly bolstered mindfulness’s place in the field of psychotherapy, and fewer experts view it with skepticism. Investigators have shown how the practice can change structures in the brain, including areas associated with self-awareness and coping with emotion.”
2) Exercise regularly
You’ve heard it before, the benefits of incorporating some physical fitness into your routine are boundless.
Exercise has the potential to lift your spirits mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Whenever I feel a little off, I try to get some exercise in–this can mean a full session in the gym, an hour brisk walk in the park, or pickup basketball with my friends.
It’s like magic and quite literally a quick fix. Once I get those endorphins flowing, I feel infinitely more clear-headed and ready to tackle my issues.
My mood is boosted, my anxieties lessened, and I tend to feel great overall.
Take it from James Blumenthal, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Duke University: “There’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program.”
Trust me, the hardest part is getting up and going. But once you break that cycle, things become far more manageable.
Sometimes within minutes of starting, you will already notice an uptick in mood.
3) Keep a journal
Often when we become so overwhelmed with our thoughts, it’s hard to pinpoint the root of the issue.
By keeping a journal, you’re able to organize and articulate racing thoughts and feelings properly which, in turn, increases self-awareness.
Journaling provides you with a safe space for expressing yourself and your innermost thoughts freely, without external judgment.
You can also track your progress and document personal growth milestones.
When you see how far you’ve come on paper, it’ll reinforce a positive mental state within you.
4) Eat healthily
Remember, you are what you eat.
If you primarily survive off things like takeaway pizza, Chick-Fil-A, and soda (yes, even diet soda) you’ll likely feel pretty lethargic, not to mention derail the progress you were making in the gym.
It’s science, our diet has a direct correlation with our mental state and energy levels.
Frankly, your body deserves better. Make an effort to nourish yourself with a well-balanced diet.
Use the countless resources online to assist you in coming up with a proper eating regimen.
Your mind and body will thank you for it.
Speaking of being kind to your body, let’s talk discuss drinking habits…
5) Limit alcohol intake
Real talk: booze isn’t the answer. Sure, the occasional jaunt to a bar for happy hour is fine but remember, alcohol is a proven depressant.
After a few drinks, there’s a good chance you’ll wake up in the morning with severely exacerbated feelings of depression, brain fog, and anxiety.
Take it from me. For years, I was a heavy binge drinker.
I’m a naturally anxious person and have suffered through some real bouts of depression throughout my life so, to cope, I’d turn to the bottle.
I’d often drink to the point of oblivion, blacking out with no recollection of the last hours of the evening. Sometimes, I’d even go on all-nighters, much to the dismay of my family, my girlfriend, and my internal organs.
While the intoxicating effects of liquor numbed my negative feelings for a few hours, I’d wake up the next day with symptoms that were exponentially worse such as unbearable, crippling anxiety.
Sometimes, the alcohol-induced irrationalities, self-loathing, and paranoia would last for months after a single binge.
Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve mostly embraced sobriety.
It’s no coincidence that mentally I’m in far better shape than in those dark, rum-laden days of my youth.
6) Speak about It
Keeping your feelings bottled up like a pressure cooker isn’t going to do you any favors. Reach out to someone you trust, like a good friend or a parent.
The simple act of voicing your thoughts and letting them out can provide you some relief.
If you aren’t quite comfortable speaking about your mental state with people you know, there are limitless support groups online where you can let your frustrations out yet remain anonymous.
7) Prioritize sleep
Here’s the thing: we tend to overlook sleep’s effect on our mental health.
But if you’re serious about getting better, improving your quality of sleep is something that needs to be taken into consideration.
For me, this is non-negotiable.
It’s medically proven: a lack of quality sleep can have significant impacts on both your mood and cognitive ability–not to mention your overall physical health.
Strive to get seven to nine hours of shut-eye a night and expect some positive changes to come about.
8) Explore your creative side
Pursuing something creative can be a powerful form of self-therapy. Think about it: many of the greatest artists, musicians, and writers in history have had their share of mental issues.
To remedy their situations, they would seek solace and refuge in their respective form of creative expression.
So, consider taking up painting, a new instrument, or signing up for a writing class.
By partaking in the creative process, you’re opening yourself up to a whole new dimension of healing and catharsis.
9) Spend time in nature
Dealing with the grind of life sometimes means we forget to connect with the outdoors.
There is extensive research to prove the link between connecting with nature and the reduction of stress and serotonin levels.
Esteemed environmental psychologist Dr. Stephen Kaplan has extensively researched nature’s impact on mood and mental well-being. He said:
“Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress while increasing pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, but it also contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.”
You don’t necessarily have to drive to a beach or become Bear Grylls every weekend; a daily stroll through a neighborhood park will eventually provide you with noticeable benefits.
10) Establish a routine
When you’re just coasting through life, merely existing and not really living, it’s not a great surprise that you might occasionally feel off.
Having a daily routine can provide a sense of structure, normalcy, and control, which in turn, reduces stress and makes life seem a little more manageable.
In addition, you’ll likely adopt better habits as well, like having a consistent sleep schedule and a set time for exercise.
11) Practice gratitude
“Practice gratitude” may sound corny, like something from a Hallmark card, but believe me, regularly doing so will make a difference.
Making the effort to shift your mindset, i.e. focusing on the positive aspects of your life rather than dwelling on the negative, can give you some real perspective.
So, while your situation may not currently be perfect, you can still be thankful for the good things and people in your life.
If you make this a habit, chances are you’ll feel more contented down the line.
According to Harvard Medical School, “Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
12) Take social media breaks
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with social media, there’s no disputing that in today’s world, it promotes unhealthy comparisons and unattainable goals.
Newsflash: social media isn’t real life. Take every reel or Instagram story you view with a grain of salt.
Everyone’s just fronting, and social media gives them an unhealthy, addictive, and extremely accessible platform to do so.
In addition, social media can promote loneliness and social isolation as digital interactions often lack the depth and real connection of face-to-face ones.
Everyone is constantly arguing online too, which gives off a toxic, almost dystopic energy. You may not realize it right now but people’s anger and negative energy, online or not, are contagious.
Being predisposed to anxiety, I began to realize that social media was worsening my mental health. So three years ago, I made the decision to delete my Facebook account.
The constant debate, the self-righteous keyboard warriors, and the fake news all got to me.
My life has drastically improved since I got rid of Facebook. My days are filled with far less anxiety.
13) Be mindful of the content you consume
Like many people these days, I love watching true crime documentaries. There’s something so compelling about watching the events of a real-life crime play out onscreen.
Typically, I’d consume my true crime content in the evenings, near bedtime. Then I began to notice a spike in my anxiety at night.
After some reflection, I came to the conclusion that the morbid nature of true crime as a genre was subconsciously affecting my mental state, which, as you know now, is already predisposed to anxiety.
As a way of alleviating my uneasiness, I’ve significantly moderated my true crime intake.
The truth is, any genre or type of content has the potential to be anxiety-inducing, depending on the person.
Think about the possible connections between the media you consume and your mental health, then take the necessary actions, as I did.
14) Have self-care rituals
Life can get tedious. Sometimes we get so caught up in the mundane that we forget to really love ourselves.
Show yourself some compassion by partaking in regular self-care activities, i.e. things that really promote caring for yourself.
No, bingeing on Elite on Netflix while snacking on Cooler Ranch Doritos doesn’t count.
Participate in activities that make you feel whole inside and out, like taking a relaxing bath, reading an intriguing novel, or walking through a leafy-green park with your dogs.
Once self-care becomes a way of life, you’ll surely feel better too.
15) Explore new skills
Fun fact: it’s never too late to learn something new.
Learn a hobby or skill you’ve always wanted to pursue but never got around to.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Mandarin or French. Sign up for a class or make use of the immeasurable resources on the internet!
Or if you’re more musically inclined, try learning the guitar or piano. Learning something new can provide a new perspective and a sense of control and accomplishment.
Since we’re on the topic, let’s get into music a little more…
16) Mindful listening of music
From my experience, listening to music that I enjoy gives me a sense of peace and order.
When I listen, I frequently focus on the lyrics, the individual instruments, and the melody. I’ve learned that mindfully listening to music can in itself be a form of meditation.
While music definitely helps, for true change to happen and to feel whole in ourselves, we need to be focused inward.
For instance, when it comes to your personal spiritual journey, what toxic habits have you subconsciously picked up?
Is it the need to be a people pleaser? Is it a sense of superiority over those who lack spiritual awareness? Is it not taking enough initiative in life?
I’ve found that even well-meaning gurus and experts often don’t get it right.
The result is a misdiagnosis and you do more to harm yourself than anything else.
You may even hurt those around you.
In this eye-opening video, the shaman Rudá Iandé outlines how so many of us fall into the toxic spirituality trap. He himself went through a sense of isolation at the start of his journey.
As he mentions in the video, the core of spirituality is about empowering yourself. Not suppressing emotions, not judging others, but forming a pure connection with who you are at your core.
And though I was skeptical at first, now I’m sold. My personal transformation has been incredible.
If this is what you’d like to achieve, click here to watch the free video.
17) Join a support group
Prolonged isolation can be damaging. The good news is that you never have to go at things completely alone.
Connecting with others who might be experiencing related feelings can provide comfort and reduce feelings of loneliness.
You’ll realize that you aren’t in fact alone and will gain a sense of community with those who share similar struggles.
Support groups offer a safe space to share experiences and coping strategies, as well as practical insights and methods of emotional support.
In addition, witnessing others’ resilience and progress can instill hope and motivation.
18) Always be hydrated
Keep drinking water. Avoid booze and soda in excess amounts. Have you seen the movie, Space Jam?
Well, to make a long story short, Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes were losing big in a basketball game against the physically-imposing space creatures, the Monstars.
Things changed when they discovered a drink called “secret stuff.”
The twist was the drink was actually just good ol’ H2O. And though it was an unfeasible animation flick, there’s one thing Space Jam had right: the (regular) intake of water has incredible benefits.
Strive to drink seven or eight glasses a day; you’ll invariably feel a change in your energy levels.
Water is the stuff of life. Dehydration? Not so much.
19) Get professional help
Maybe your mental health issues are chronic and you can’t solve things on your own. In this case, consulting a mental health professional is strongly encouraged.
They can provide medically-backed strategies, tools, counseling, and medication, if necessary.
Remember, while everyone goes through periods of feeling unlike themselves, if these feelings persist or are causing significant distress, you owe it to yourself to seek external help.
Reasons why you might not be feeling like yourself
We’ve gone over ways to cope with this sense of disillusionment.
But it’s equally useful to know the causes of your situation. By identifying the root, you can be more methodical in your approach to tackling issues.
Here are a few potential reasons why you haven’t been feeling like yourself:
Being constantly stressed is no way to live.
Maybe you’re going through relationship or family dramas or struggling to reach work deadlines.
Whatever it is, be aware that chronic and even acute stress can lead to imbalances in brain chemistry and even physical changes in the brain, potentially contributing to anxiety and depression.
Think of a car running without fuel. Without gassing up, that car will likely incur some major damages internally.
This is burnout in automotive terms. Burnout means running on empty. It happens when you push yourself too hard for too long, without self-care, relaxation, or a chance to recover.
You will feel completely wiped out, most likely losing interest in your job or other responsibilities in the process.
You might even feel like you’re just not accomplishing anything meaningful, which only bolsters already negative emotions.
Physical health issues
It’s worthwhile seeing a medical doctor if these dissociative feelings persist.
Conditions like hormonal imbalance, vitamin deficiency, thyroid disorders, heart disease, or other illnesses cause emotional and mental changes that can make you feel a little off.
Mental health disorders
On a similar note, an array of mental disorders from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) to bipolar disorder to chronic depression can lead to feelings of disillusionment and unfamiliarity with oneself.
As we’ve established, if you suspect that your emotions are a result of a chemical imbalance, getting professional needed isn’t just recommended, it’s absolutely necessary.
Medication side effects
Have you been taking anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, steroids, or birth control pills?
Certain medications, such as those just mentioned, can cause some serious changes in mood, behavior, and perception.
If that’s likely the culprit, then it’s smart to consult your doctor to go over the unwanted side effects.
Lack of sleep
It’s worth mentioning again: sleep deprivation can lead to a whole range of cognitive and emotional disturbances, including the feeling of being disconnected from oneself.
Imagine feeling jetlagged all the time. If this was the case and you were always tired, it’s unlikely you would feel like yourself. Get some rest!
As we touched on earlier, excess use of alcohol or drugs can mess with your brain chemistry, altering your perception, emotions, and behaviors.
This can mean feeling and acting erratically.
If this sounds like you, perhaps it’s time for a lengthy detox.
Major life changes
It goes without saying that significant upheavals such as moving to a new country, starting a new job, or experiencing a break-up with a long-term partner, can make you feel stressed and uncertain–this is just the nature of change.
But change can also have an impact on your mental health by triggering feelings of anxiety and fear of the unknown.
Adjustment periods are never easy but rest assured that you’ll find your way, in time.
Maybe you’ve started to question your existence and the pointlessness of life, which makes you feel a deep and pervasive sense of melancholy.
Existentialist angst is the sense of being overwhelmed by the uncertainties and complexities of life, and the fear of not finding a satisfying answer.
It often involves a sense of restlessness, a longing for meaning, and a search for a greater sense of purpose.
But it doesn’t end there, this feeling can also lead to feelings of alienation or detachment from oneself.
According to Anna Rowley, psychologist, and author: “Existential anxiety arises when we confront the fundamental questions of existence and the limits of our own knowledge. It is a natural and universal part of the human condition, but it can become problematic when it overwhelms us and interferes with our daily functioning.”
To wrap things up, I’d like to say that the human experience isn’t a linear one.
Sometimes life has a way of tossing us about, and our sense of self begins to fade. Don’t beat yourself up about it; this is a part of being human.
The critical part is recognizing these emotions instead of pushing them away. By taking action now, you’ll be saving yourself plenty of trouble down the line.
Always keep in mind things such as self-care, reconnecting with loved ones, engaging with nature, and incorporating healthy habits (like regular exercise and diet) into your life.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when things get tough, so strongly consider reaching out to a mental health professional if you feel you can’t go at it alone.
At the end of the day, in this journey called life, there are always going to be ups and downs, twists and turns.
So if you’re feeling a little confused, use it as a time to rediscover yourself.
You’re learning, evolving, and thriving with every experience. The ‘you’ that you’ve been yearning for? It’s all part of the process, so be kind to yourself.
I promise you, you’re going to be just fine.