Depression and anxiety can interfere with our natural abilities to manage our feelings, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your mental well being by a simple shift in attitude. I went to the doctors at uni, feeling crushed by despair and anxiety, and the doctor said ‘I want you to read this book, The Untethered Soul. You must realise that you aren’t those feelings, you are just experiencing them. You have to stop. You have to choose to find peace. If you don’t want to get better you won’t’
‘oh, SCREW YOU’ I thought. ‘You don’t know me, you don’t know the pain I feel. I don’t WANT to be sad.’ I was fuming.
But I read the book. And afterwards I was so grateful to her for suggesting it. I realised that low mood and anxiety can be largely improved by challenging your thought patterns. It’s got quite a spiritual take, which isn’t something I really identify with, mentioning chakras for example. If that’s not your things it’s still such a valuable source of comfort and self-understanding and suggests some ways to change your thought patterns which can lead you to a more peaceful and content life.
Happiness really is a choice more often than we would like to admit.
‘I’ll be happy when I graduate uni.’
‘I’ll be happy when this deadline is done.’
‘I’ll be happy when I lose some weight.’
‘I’ll be happy when I’m less stressed about money’
The list goes on.
Sometimes, happiness has got nothing to do with external circumstances. Sometimes, being happy is nothing than a change of mindset,
I went away for the weekend recently. I got confused about the town and booked the air b and b in the wrong town, we wasted a couple hundred euros. I realised I’d done a final year project all wrong on the same day, and had to spend part of the weekend away redoing it. I broke my favourite pair of shoes that I had really wanted to bring… The list goes on once more. For some reason, everything seemed to be going wrong. I felt my stress levels increasing, a familiar queasy tug in my belly and I thought ‘oh for god’s sake, why are we even doing this.’
Then I made a decision. I breathed deeply and said to myself ‘feeling upset or angry is not going to change the outcome. It is not going to make my project appear and it’s not going to get me any money back. I’m going to choose to not mind.’
What a relief. It felt so good to choose not to mind. Obviously, this is a trivial example of stress but I just wanted to say that if we paid less attention to the little things that go wrong we would be so much happier. The weekend turned out fine, the project got done. In fact, it probably got done faster because I spent less time whinging that I would have previously and just cracked on!
No excuses, no timetable for when you’re going to feel good, the moment is now. Take a breath and enjoy the moment because that’s all that you’ve got. It really can be that simple.
You can’t change the weather, you can’t change the bad things that happen, nor should you try and change other people. You can only change the way you interpret the world around you. By doing this you can find so much more peace and happiness. This is a choice. You have the strength and capacity to take this step. For your own sake, decide to not waste your precious life being upset with things beyond your control.
If you have been effected by mental health problems and would like to read more, why not read my article about medicating depression.