Do you feel a sense of constant anxiety? Like a pit in your stomach that doesn't seem to ever go away? Do you feel generally unhappy? Are you projecting that unhappiness on others, like a spouse, a friend, or even your children? Do you find you are engaging in "destructive" behaviors, like over-spending, smoking, over-eating, or over-indulging in things like alcohol? Are you sleeping? If you are, is it for at least 6.5-7 hours/night? When you do sleep, is it restful or do you suffer regular nightmares or night-terrors? Do you sometimes get a tight feeling in your chest? Do you find it hard to motivate yourself to do simple, everyday tasks?
If you answered yes to at least 2 of these questions, chances are, you are not OK.
If you're not okay, don't panic. It's not a panic situation. It's a HUMAN situation. Throughout our lifetimes, there will be many "not okay" instances. The first thing to do is to identify the root of the problem. When did the signs begin to manifest? Did you experience any recent changes--it can be anything from a change of job, to a death in the family, to your child transitioning in school. We often feel guilty if we sense we're not "OK" and push that feeling aside, pretending it's not there. When life is hectic--and let's face it, when is not--we tend not to acknowledge any particular problems that may arise in an effort to prioritize life. But by not putting ourselves as a priority, we are making a very BIG mistake.
In order for us to continue truly living life, we must face our problems as they come--even if it's inconvenient. Because, what's really inconvenient is when we don't face our problems, allowing them to build. At some point, you will have such a store of problems deposited in your "problem bank" that anything can tip your proverbial scale, totally stopping life in its tracks--yours and everyone connected to you.
Even the thought of HOW to deal with such a store of issues is daunting. So where do you begin? You start with yourself. Once you've identified the root of the problem, try to remove it. If that's not possible, try using meditation, physical exercise, journaling, taking walks in a natural setting--anything to bring you back to yourself, anything to let you have time to "sort out" the problems you've been putting off.
It may not be enough, and if it isn't, seek out a counselor. Get a referral from your primary care physician for a good therapist. Interview a number of people before making your choice. Go to your scheduled appointments. Try going twice a month to start. If it helps, you can either increase or decrease appointments to your specific needs.
Having a person outside of friends, family and your professional sphere to discuss the large and small problems that tend to pop up in our busy lives is crucial to being "OK" when you've become overwhelmed or daunted or unmotivated or unhappy. Why live like that when you don't have to?
Many of us choose to live like that even when we don't have to just to keep life flowing; we don't want to interupt ourselves or the others in our life. Sometimes, we may feel ashamed, or embarrassed, or even guilty--we don't want to be selfish. When we have a problem, we want to be strong. We want to take care of it without burdening others. All noble sentiments. But imagine the courage, the nobility, in being honest not only with yourself, but with the people who are important to you? There is nothing wrong with having limits. It means you are human--nothing more, nothing less.
Whether meditation, exercise, being in nature, or writing in a journal helps you to be "OK," all that matters is that you use those self-strategies to your benefit. If it's not really making a dent, go see a therapist. It can't hurt. Most health insurance policies do pay for a certain number of visits. You may have to pay a nominal co-pay, but think about it--how much do you spend on clothing? On entertainment? On housing? Aren't YOU worth the cost of a co-pay? Take the excuses away and forgive yourself. Help yourself remove the obstacles in your life so you can continue moving forward. You ARE worth it. We all are.
Until next time, dearest readers....