4 tips for dealing with discouragement

Aug 6, 2015

It happens. It does. You’re trucking along just fine when… boom. A bad piece of news. A perceived slight. An overstep, a little mix-up, a big mess-up, and… now you don’t even want to get out of bed.

You’d just like to burrow under the covers until you feel better and everything’s fixed – but that’s not an option.

What do you do when you’re feeling really discouraged?

Realize that it’s universal

Everyone gets discouraged. Yes, even big fancy top athletes, powerful CEOs, Oscar-winning movie stars and... Superman? Superman DEFINITELY feels discouraged, the poor life-savin’ alien.

Especially in these social media dayz, it’s tempting to think that you’re the only one down when everyone else is Instagramming their yachting trip with Jay-Z.

But social media is NOT an accurate reflection of other people’s real journeys, unless your friends are exceptionally honest.

Nobody is 100% driven and perky and positive all the time, except certain brands of sociopaths and maybe people on some crazy experimental medication.

Take a break

Log out of your social media accounts. Turn off your phone. Go on a walk, or take the afternoon off.

Recharge with things that inspire you. Avoid substance abuse, and try not to pick fights with loved ones. Instead, take yourself on a really nice date; it doesn’t have to be expensive, just generous in spirit.

On one particularly low afternoon, I went to a dog park and watched other people’s dogs play – it reminded me that there was still adventure, absurdity, and playfulness in the world.

Accept that just as some discouragement is inevitable, it is also temporary. Be gentle with yourself until it passes.

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Write it down

Journaling out your frustration, anger, shame, disappointment, or discouragement really, really works. It not only helps you express the emotion, but also can help you gain much-needed perspective.

Give yourself 20-30 minutes to write out everything you’re feeling. If you’re really inclined to write it on your computer, go ahead – but I find pen-and-paper more effective.

What’s even more helpful is that you now have a record of this low period. Now, You can choose to do one of two things with it:

  1. Ceremoniously destroy it, in a cleansing ritual – it feels really good to tear that paper into teeny tiny pieces, doesn’t it?
  2. Keep it to hold onto – to someday remember, after this is all over, how you overcame this despair.

The choice is all yours.

Keep on keepin’ on

The nasty demon Discouragement only wins if you quit. This feeling is NOT forever. Everyone gets down sometimes, and this too shall pass.

Think back carefully. I bet you’ve overcome some real challenges in your life, right? At the time they may have felt impossible and overwhelming, but today you’re stronger and wiser because of it.

Just as you will be tomorrow, because you’ll have successfully navigated THIS rut.

Breathe deep. Let yourself feel and process; have that tantrum, take that walk, and talk to that loved one – and tomorrow, you’ll keep on overcoming. You can do it. Yes, you! You can.

We can!

Kate Hamill lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.