What to do when you’re suffering, with Dr. Ashraf Adel

Published on: November 15, 2021

Part of taking care of your well-being involves protecting your mental health. We all experience seasons in our lives that are better than others. It’s normal for everyone to go through periods where they feel happy and optimistic, and then go through other times that are more challenging, where struggle seems to be overwhelmingly present. If your mental health is causing dysfunction in your everyday life, know that it’s okay. In some cases, you might need to seek help from a professional to see improvements in your mood. However, there are other times where there may be several things that you can do on your own to help yourself get out of the vicious cycle that is causing your suffering or your struggle.

For the most part, when a person is going through a phase where their mood is pretty low, their activity levels also go down. In other words, when a person doesn’t feel like doing anything, which is often the case when they’re in a bad mood or when they feel sad, they stop doing things that usually make them feel better. This is mainly because they feel much less motivated than their usual, even if it involves doing an activity that they generally enjoy. So, when a person feels down, they feel demotivated, and in turn, they become less active. The problem is that when they keep isolating themselves and they stop engaging in activities because of their low mood, they become even more depressed, or their mood worsens. Eventually, this can turn into a vicious cycle which can be difficult to break if it isn’t taken care of early on.

To avoid going into this cycle, or if you’re already experiencing it and you want to get out of it, you need to modify and adjust your lifestyle. You can do so by including activities that you enjoy in your daily schedule. When you do things that you like more frequently, this will help you get your motivation and your joy of living back. Because we all have different passions and interests, we don’t get motivated by the same things, so each person needs to think of what activities bring them pleasure, and see what works for them.

For me personally, one of the things that help me get back on my feet when I’m going through a difficult time is knitting. I really enjoy the process of creating something out of nothing. Whenever I finish a knitting project, especially if it’s something that I will be gifting to someone I love, I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that I’ve created something with my own hands. Other people may find their motivation from sports. Whether it’s going to the gym, swimming, playing tennis, or exercising in any other way, a lot of people, especially athletes genuinely feel better mentally when they work out. Some even find joy when they’re around people and feel that they belong to a certain community.

Whatever your hobbies or interests may be, you need to include these things that you’re passionate about in your daily routine. Stressful and overwhelming events in your life can sometimes control or oppress you until they take you to a dark place. When you keep practicing things you enjoy and you’re still able to find pleasure in your life, even when you’re going through a hard time, you will be able to maintain a positive state of mind. 

If you have been engaging in new activities and doing things that you like for a while but you haven’t seen much improvement or changes in your mood, then maybe reaching out to a mental health professional might help you. Sometimes your struggles may be too deep, or you might find it challenging to overcome them by yourself. Asking for help or support from others is not a sign of weakness, but rather it’s a strength. You don’t need to go through difficult experiences on your own to be strong. A part of what real strength and resilience is, is about being able to admit and recognize when you’re going through a challenging period and understanding that seeking guidance and support from a professional will help you get better.