Supporting Yourself When Things go Wrong
Consider the following:
If you have had a really bad day, which is most likely
- You go home, go for a run, eat a healthy meal, meditate and have an early night; or
- You go home, drink a lot of alcohol or eat a bucket of ice cream or other unhealthy food, stare at the TV and hide from the world
If your answer was number 1 – well done, this will genuinely help you to manage whatever has gone wrong.
If your answer was number 2 – you are doing what most people do.
When something goes wrong our emotional response can lead us into doing things that actually make us feel worse. This is because we seek immediate release through short term pleasure. We consume the alcohol and ice cream in the scenario above to try to switch off the unpleasant emotions we are feeling. But this just leads to us waking up the next day feeling ill and tired and still just as upset.
Instead it can help to do things that will help us in the medium to long term, rather than just trying to avoid the emotion. We’ve listed some tips below – but you may find that some other things work better for you. Experiment with different strategies until you find the ones which work best for you
- Take time out – when emotionally aroused you are more likely to make more mistakes and as a result become more stressed. Step outside, away from work and give yourself some time to calm down. Don’t put pressure on yourself to fix everything straight away.
- Use some relaxation strategies. We list a number of these in section 2, such as 7/11 breathing.
- Exercise has been shown to be more effective at reducing anxiety than medication .
- Spend some time in nature – this has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress and raise mood . When in nature, take time to notice your surroundings. Look at the differences in the trees, pay attention to what the birds are doing etc.
- Talk to your friends about what has happened. Talking about negative events can help you to move past them and receiving comfort from others can help you to feel better.
- Do something to help someone else. Helping other people is good for our wellbeing and by focussing on someone else, your own setback may reduce in perspective. Helping others can also increase your own feeling of self-worth and confidence, meaning you are more able to tackle whatever has gone wrong .
- Listen to music. We know that music can change our mood more quickly than anything else and listening to music you like for 15 minutes each day can increase your overall levels of happiness .
- Do something creative – playing music, painting, singing and creative writing can be good for your wellbeing and can also enhance your problem solving skills. If you take some time out to do something creative that you enjoy, when you’ve finished you may find it easier to rethink what happened and find a way forward .
- Use the support around you – talking to your supervisor or Student Services may help you to manage whatever has happened and give you some extra support, so you don’t feel you are tackling it alone.
- Get a good night’s sleep – if you are upset, you may need to take steps to make this more likely. For instance, it may help if you avoid alcohol and caffeine, take a bath or shower before bed and use the last hour to unwind and avoid screen time (see section 2 for more on sleep).