Mental Health: 5 Ways to Cope with Dark Days

Tough times are bound to come. As the saying goes, “this too shall pass.”.  While you might occasionally slip into periods of feeling sorry for yourself or defeated in times of crisis, it’s important to remember that you remain in control.  Here are a few ways to cope with the darker days in life so that you can come out of it mentally stronger.

mental health

1. Consider an emotional support animal.

Animals provide companionship and bring joy to our lives. When dealing with difficult situations, some pets have experience helping with trauma. They’re always around to offer comfort and affection, which can go a long way during these trying times. Getting an emotional support animal requires an ESA letter, which verifies that the person needs an animal to help support their mental health condition. Just be sure to find out who can write an ESA letter and the requirements to qualify. It’s not as easy as printing a certification online to legitimize your pet as an assistance animal prescribed for your condition.

2. Find meaning and purpose.

It’s easy to be consumed by the crisis you’re currently facing. However, that doesn’t have to define who you are. Pursuing activities that bring meaning and purpose to your life helps put your problems into perspective and gives you a sense of identity. During turbulent times, it’s important not to let go of interests that can nourish your soul. Consider caring for a pet, playing a sport, taking on home improvement projects, traveling, or pursuing a musical endeavor. Such activities can help you cope with tough times.

3. Seek support from others.

Connecting with your family members and friends during dark days can help elevate your mood, ease stress, and even make sense of these challenging sequences of events. Rather than feeling like you have to confront your problems alone, you can build resilience and draw strength from having others to lean on. While you might feel inclined to retreat and not vocalize your challenges, reaching out to someone you trust is essential. Great friends won’t consider you a burden; they will probably feel flattered that you can confide in them.

4. Seek therapy.

In 2020, about 8.4% of US adults had one or more major depressive episodes. Dark days happen, and it’s important to realize that while they’re painful, it’s completely normal. Therapy can help you to get to the bottom of what’s leading to your mental health issues. Processing your feelings and beliefs allows you to make long-term behavioral changes. Through critical self-reflection, you’ll identify your existing thought patterns and emotions that could prevent you from living a happier, healthier lifestyle.

5. Establishing healthy rituals.

The mind and body are linked. When your body feels capable and strong, your mind will too. When you suffer from chronic stress, your body likely carries some of that burden. You may have insomnia, tense muscles, neck or back pain, or other symptoms. Exercise can help elevate your body by releasing endorphins into your brain. Practices like meditation, taichi, and yoga involve body awareness and deep breathing to help alleviate stress. Furthermore, you can eat a healthier, depression-fighting diet which involves minimizing refined carbs and sugar and consuming foods rich in vitamins.

Your mental health is important. When you’re overwhelmed or depressed and you can’t seem to snap out of it, having a few coping strategies can help you to feel better. These strategies can help distract you from the feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, putting you back on the road to recovery.

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