How to Improve Mental Health

10 Simple Steps to Consider When You Don't Feel Like Yourself

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Something is wrong.

You can't pinpoint it, but you know it's there.

Or not there.

Something is off, and you don't feel like yourself.

In fact, it's starting to negatively impact your life.

Wouldn't it be nice to know what to do about it?

To solve the problem once and for all?

It would.

But what if it isn't about doing?

What if it's about being?

About acknowledging?

About internalizing a few very important, simple steps?

"I Don't Feel Like Myself" (A Short Story)

Let's start with a short story, and then we'll dive right into the lessons and next steps to be gleaned from it.

I'm in my early twenties, about ten years younger than I am now.

I'm out of college and out of a failed stint with the Peace Corps, where I had to leave after only 8 months due to health issues and bureaucratic failure.

But it is I who feels like a failure, and I certainly don't feel like myself.

Luckily, I see some signs to head out to Montana, and I find a way to get out there.

I accept a position with AmeriCorps to complete a service year helping a nonprofit in the state's capital.

But I just don't feel like myself.

Because I don't know who I'm supposed to be.

I make friends within the AmeriCorps program.

I get involved in the local political scene.

I try to position myself for success after my service year is up.

I hike as much as possible.

I travel as much as I can on my service-year stipend.

It's a beautiful place I'm in, and that feels like the only saving grace for my spinning mind.

I'm doing a lot, but I'm not understanding why I'm doing it.

I'm trying so hard to impress others and do it all when it hits me.

Is this who I even want to be?

Who am I?

What It Means to Feel Like Yourself / Find Yourself

This, I think, is where it starts.

To not know who you are is a good thing.

It's the start of something big. Something healthy.

Because when you question who you are, it means you're curious enough to know if there is a real you, if there's a person that is authentic and whole and complete.

It's where it all begins.

If you're not feeling like yourself, you might have some of these thoughts:

Why do I feel this way?

My life doesn't feel like my own.

What am I supposed to be doing?

This isn't me.

I don't want to be doing any of this.

These seem like bad thoughts, but hold on just a second.

The bad is where the good comes from. There are two sides to everything.

It's in that odd reality that you find yourself.

The Simple Process of Becoming and Feeling Like Yourself

Remember, simple doesn't mean easy, but when you're not feeling like yourself, you need to get back to basics.

Follow these 10 steps to feel like yourself again. Post them on a mirror. Be present with what happens:

  1. Lean into the negative emotions
  2. Acknowledge the negative emotions, whatever that means for you
  3. Start to consider what the negative feelings are telling you
  4. Realize your body knows who you are at your core
  5. Realize that if you have negative emotions, they are still telling you something about yourself
  6. Start to consider what's on the other side of the negative emotion
  7. Know that you are a complex, yet whole, individual
  8. Grasp for the other side of the negative
  9. Really try to understand what the negative is telling you
  10. Follow that path, with complete curiosity, wherever it takes you

Again, simple does not mean easy.

Simple does not mean guaranteed.

What it means is a basic acknowledgment of what's going on for you, in your life.

Because the weight of the world can be crushing.

There will always be people who demand your time and attention. There will always be somewhere to be and something to do.

And that is why it's so very important to follow the simple path back to yourself.

It's a journey of question and answer, of black and white.

But who you are is in there, somewhere in the solid middle ground, if only you carve out the space and time to discover it.

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