If you or a loved one are struggling with life, it’s unfortunately more normal than you might thing. Most of us struggle with low self-esteem, with emotional problems, and with feeling worth, loved, and like we are contributing to our goals or to the people we love. That feeling is often at its peak in early adulthood, when hormones mix with having to rapidly learn new life skills and take on new responsibilities – creating a mix that can be traumatic and terrifying. It’s not unusual for young adults to feel like failures, to feel like they hate life, or even to feel depression or suicidal ideation. That’s so much true that 8.7 million young adults experience severe depression and 3.3 million had suicidal ideation to the point of making suicide plans – meaning over 12.8% of all Americans between the ages of 12 and 18 have made a suicide plan in the last year.
Life does get better. Learning to cope with challenges, learning new life skills, finding more mature and more stable relationships, and figuring out what you want out of life will all help in the long-term. In the short-term, here are 8 ways you can feel better about life.
Life is hard. Anything you’re going through is challenging and it doesn’t matter if someone else has it worse of if your life was worse in the past. People experience stress and trauma in a non-linear way. This means that life feels equally bad if you’re experiencing what seems like trivial problems as if you’re experiencing something that you might rate as “actually bad”. For example, being bullied or having relationship drama can cause as much stress to your mental health and to your body as something more extreme.
If you feel like things are hard, then things are hard. And, the best thing you can do is acknowledge that, acknowledge that you have to go through something hard, and that you have to work to get through it. From there, you can start taking steps to figure out how to improve that life.
Most of us can benefit from some mental health support. But, if you consistently think life is bad or feel depressed, it’s important to get mental health support. People who are still in school or university can often start by looking into school resources for classes, counseling, and therapy. However, you can also talk to your doctor, get opinions, and make plans from there. Talking to parents can be difficult, especially if they are trying to make you talk about our emotional health and feelings, but it can also help – simply because they have access to resources you can use to get treatment.
At the same time, parents can be a large part of trauma. School counselors and psychologists may actually recommend family therapy as a means of improving your life. That can also be difficult to bring up.
Avoidance is never a great way to deal with life. However, if you’re in situations that are negative for no reason, you can take steps to remove yourself from them. For example, if you struggle with autism and you experience over stimulus from noise, you can talk to your school counselor and get permission to wear noise cancelling headphones to school. If you’re being bullied, you can look into resources for help from school. Or, if you’re struggling in a certain class, you can take steps to ask for tutoring or coaching. There aren’t always resources, but often, you can get help if you need it.
That also holds true for your private life. If parts of your life are causing stress or difficulty, taking steps to remove yourself from that situation is important. For example, if you’re in a tumultuous relationship, distancing yourself from it can improve things over the long term. That’s hard now, but if it improves how you feel about life, you’ll eventually be happier.
Simple classes like mindfulness, emotional regulation, stress management, anger management, etc., can give you tools to deal with life and the emotional ups and downs of being around people. These won’t be a “fix” for your problems. Instead, they’re a tool that you can use to apply to situations to help you deal with things.
Good habits like studying, getting to bed on time, eating well, exercising, taking time to yourself, etc., are hard to build. But, it’s often the case that we decide we want something and then start big, make an all-or-nothing plan to be perfect, and then crash and burn. And, once you’ve failed an all-or-nothing plan, you might as well not bother, right? Starting small with realistic, measurable, and achievable steps is the best way to go. For example, if you want to lose weight, go “I’ll exercise, on average, 3 hours every week”, giving yourself opportunities to take a 30-minute run every morning – or to go to the gym for 2 hours on a Sunday if you lapsed the rest of the week.
It’s also important to start small. Create goals that you can consistently achieve, so you get to feel good about yourself – which motivates you to keep going. Then, add onto those as what you’re doing becomes easy.
Taking care of yourself is about more than good habits. It’s also about saying no when you want to. It’s about taking time to understand yourself and why you react the way you do. And, it’s about taking time to yourself to relax, to get to know yourself, and to do your own thing. Taking care of yourself means consistently making decisions that benefit you physically (health), emotionally (your relationships, your social life), and mentally (mental challenge, learning, reducing stress). All of that can be a lot of effort, and many of us take our entire lives to figure them out – however, the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be.
Getting to know your peers and other people with similar problems can be extremely beneficial to your worldview. Most importantly, it can help you to understand you’re not as alone as you might feel. Getting to know other kids in counseling at school is one way. Staying at a treatment program might be another. Or, you could even go to camp or another resource. But, getting to know others with similar problems can be extremely helpful. For example, you’ll get to see how someone else handled similar issues and what they did with those issues – which means you’ll have room to learn from that And, you can offer and get support you might not even realize you needed.
Asking for help is difficult. But, consistently asking for help whenever you start to struggle is a valuable life skill. People are social creatures, we rely on each other. It’s important that you figure out when to ask for help and how to do it. Help can mean getting to talk, to cry, getting help with chores, getting therapy, having someone motivate you to workout, etc. It just depends on what you need right now. However, eventually, no one is ever able to get through life on their own and you shouldn’t have to. Getting comfortable asking for help will improve your life.
Young adults struggle with life as well with the hormones and emotional turmoil of reaching adulthood. That can make life problems, emotional difficulties, and mental health problems even more challenging. Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix. However, you can take steps to improve life so you can feel more in control and more able to cope.
Asana Recovery is located in Orange County, California. and offers detox, residential, and outpatient addiction treatment services in our modern and comfortable addiction treatment facilities. Please contact us today to speak with one of our experienced addiction treatment team if you have any questions about our programs.