Why You Feel Like Shit, And What To Do About It

Image by Steve Knight

Life throws us some curveballs from time to time. Other times, it tackles us to the ground. And sometimes, it just feels like we’re in the middle of a golf driving range being assaulted by hundreds of golf balls.

But enough about my weekend.

No matter how hard we try to be positive and happy with life, sometimes we experience periods where we simply feel like shit.

I’m not necessarily talking about clinical depression or other serious mental and psychological problems here. Nor am I talking about life and death stuff. For those things, you really should seek professional help.

I’m just talking about those periods where you feel like things aren’t going your way, and you’re just not having much fun.

From my own experience, this feeling can usually be traced to one or more of the following issues:

Sleep deprivation

Sadly, we still seem to live in a society obsessed with working long hours, getting little sleep, and wearing all of that as some sort of badge of honour (more like a badge of stupidity, really).

Not surprisingly, over time this WILL catch up with you.

A lack of quality sleep (and/or a terrible sleeping pattern) has been proven to affect people quite dramatically.

You’ll end up impatient with yourself and others, you’ll make poor decisions, and you will eventually shorten your lifespan. Sounds like fun.

But, you know, “sleep when you’re dead”, right…?

Poor nutrition and fitness

Not eating enough, and not eating the right stuff has also been shown to have a negative effect on people.

Eating poorly for a lengthy period of time will result in less energy, poor health, and low enjoyment of life in general. So it’s time to put down that McQuadrupleBypass Burger…

Oh, and while you’re at it, maybe it’s time to get some exercise too!

Lack of downtime

Our work culture doesn’t put enough emphasis on the importance of downtime. At best, we might have weekends and two-weeks off a year. At worst, we virtually have neither!

But, again, studies consistently show that we NEED to have breaks and downtime.

We need to get away, take our minds off work, and relax. That relaxation might simply involve rest, or it might involve doing other activities and hobbies that bring you enjoyment.

Of course, if your day-to-day work is enjoyable (which should be the goal of it!), it’s still a good idea to unplug every now and then to keep your mind fresh. After all, the mind is like every other muscle. It needs regular rest to ensure you are at your peak.

Lack of prioritisation

This one is a big one because it can be present every hour of your day.

If you feel like you’re constantly juggling a million things at once, it’s going to be hard to NOT feel like shit eventually.

There’s just too much stress and distraction in trying to multi-task all the time. Besides, many studies now show that SINGLE-TASKING is far more effective, despite what society conditions us to believe.

So if you’re feeling stressed, it may very well be to do with this.

If that’s the case, the solution is not doing more.

It’s doing less.

It’s about prioritising the tasks you need to do, and realising that not every task is urgent, or even important.

Lack of laughter

If you feel like shit, there’s a strong possibility that it’s been a while since you had a really good laugh.

Time to trigger that funny bone again then (keep it G-rated people)!

Lack of human interaction

This one can be a big one. And it’s basically a feeling of isolation.

Even if you work in an office every day, it’s still possible to feel isolated. Many office environments can have a very stiff and artificial feel where no one is quite themselves, and as a result people don’t form genuine friendships.

One of the solutions to this (besides trying to work in a better environment in the first place!) is to pursue hobbies that interest you, and meet people that enjoy those same activities. You can do this online, or – better yet – in the real world!

Personally, I’m constantly amazed at how much of a difference just getting out and doing stuff with people can make to one’s mood. A simple bushwalk with friends, a game of cards, or a movie and some late night munchies can make a world of difference.

Hanging out with the wrong people

Having said the above, perhaps isolation isn’t your problem. Perhaps you’re surrounded by lots of people. But they’re just not the right people for you!

Perhaps they’re overly negative people who have some very warped views about the world. Perhaps they’re just not fun to be around.

In that case, it’s best to minimise your time with such individuals, and focus on developing friendships with people who are much more fun.

You’re not doing what you should be doing

This one expresses itself as a nagging feeling that you’re meant to be doing something else with your life.

Perhaps you have trouble getting up in the morning because you’re not particularly looking forward to the day’s work? Perhaps you’re bored on a regular basis? Perhaps your mind is constantly elsewhere?

If you’re feeling this, embrace it. Don’t ignore it.

Your body is trying to tell you something. Don’t wait until this underlying feeling literally starts making you sick. Start working on this issue now. Find out what your purpose is, and what you REALLY want to be doing with your life.

I know … easier said than done, right? Sure, but you have to at least TRY. Doing the same things every day won’t get you there though.

None of the above?

If you genuinely believe that none of the above adequately explains why you feel like shit, and presuming that you’re not suffering from some sort of trauma or mental illness, here’s something that might help you find out why you feel the way you do.

Get a piece of paper and a pen (get away from the computer), and start to make a list of absolutely everything you feel anxious or worried about RIGHT NOW, at this precise moment in time.

Keep writing until you can’t think of anything more. This might take 20 minutes, or it might take 2 hours.

Seriously, get it ALL down on paper, no matter how stupid you think it might be.

As you write, you’re not allowed to read back through what you’ve just written. No editing. Just keep writing the list. Keep going until you literally can’t write any more.

Once you’ve exhausted everything you can think of (eventually, you WILL run out of thoughts), you might start to feel a bit better. You have now LITERALLY put everything onto the page.

Now go get some sleep and look at the list tomorrow when you feel a little better.

The next day, with a fresh outlook, you can start to look back through your list a bit more rationally, and with less emotion. It just might help you see clearly what the problem was/is in the first place.

Sometimes, there might be no problem at all! Maybe you were just having an off-day.

About Adam Wozniak

Adam Wozniak is the founder and writer of Encouragement from a Stranger. He believes in the importance of encouraging people to think, question things, and live life on their own terms. Or something like that... – www.AdamWozniak.com

Comments

  1. Fantastic list, Adam. I agree with everything here. I’d also add exercise to the list. Without regular physical activity people tend to feel physically and mentally less than 100%. I know most people who don’t exercise will think “Yeah, yeah, I do just fine without it”, but I promise that you’ll feel amazing (more productive, more positive, be less inclined to get ill, enjoy improved energy and self-esteem and many more benefits). Starting the regular exercise habit is the hardest part, but focus on finding activities you enjoy and how great you feel after you’ve done the exercise.

    Great post that will be helpful for everyone. Thanks.

  2. Adam Wozniak says:

    Hi Jodie! Thanks for reading, and thanks for your comment.

    You know what – I’m shocked I forgot to include exercise! You’re absolutely right – that’s an obvious one to add to the list! I’ll have to add it here in the next week. Thanks for pointing it out. :)