Self-care tips for anyone who feel stuck, hopeless and despair

We all experience moments of frustration and stagnation from time to time - such are inevitable struggles that we all face in human existence. While the nature and intensity of our angst fluctuates, it generally seems to escalate over the years, especially when entering new life stage, and venturing into new initiatives.

Three years ago I took a gamble to pursuing something I thought I always want to do but potentially risks producing an outcome that does not reward - a PhD - just to realize the pain and angst that it would then bring me. Of course to give this decision some credit, I am also learning and growing every single day. But as I was paddling through storms at the beginning of the journey, many times alone, I realize how important it is to adopt some self-defense and self-care skills. I gradually learn how to adopt some rituals and routines of these mechanisms whenever I feel frustrated, stuck, despair and hopeless.

I am starting with self-care tips:-

1) Talk to someone
Humans are social animals. We thrive from deep connections and feel uplifted from meaningful networks and support. Reach out to anyone whom we think is in the right condition to render a listening ear. Unless you have been living a life of a hermit, there must be someone there whom you could approach when you most need a listening ear. This person can be a partner, a friend, a mentor, a family member, a comrade or fellow colleague, or sometimes a total stranger that just happens to cross path with you at a juncture when you need a gentle human touch. In other words, any emphatic soul with some degree of patience willing to just accept your verbal diarrhoea.

2) Read a book- a book that helps you relax
Reading a book that is totally unrelated to our academic work or career at times, is one of the best way to take our mind off the usual routine. This is especially helpful when experiencing stagnation, or what is often called a writer's block. Pick up a book that is of your personal interest beyond the realms of your academic or corporate careers. Any kind of genre that could help to uplift our spirits and bring joy. For me, inspirational books, spiritual/Buddhism books, and travel blogs are what I have always turned to in moment like these. I often regard this routine as a form of 'quiet self-empowerment'. Taking time off to recharge with other forms of 'quiet' mental stimulation, and to remind ourselves that the world is so much more than a form of narrow academic/career pursuit.

3) Take a walk
Take a walk in the woods, a park, a garden, your neighbourhood, or anywhere with a wide open space. Very often it helps to declutter a clogged mind, rejuvenate, and regain some firmness and stability.

4) Breath!
In times of lost and despair, try to take a moment and just be aware of our breathing. This is none other than what all the world's most famous mindfulness gurus are advocating for - simply be at the present moment. This exercise can take any form that one prefers - either in the form of static or dynamic positions - and at anywhere that we like. Be aware. Be non-judgemental to our environment and to ourselves. Be gentle. Watch how our thoughts are racing all the time, and constantly intertwined with anger, frustration, restlessness, jealousy, hatred or anything that could be very negative. Just watch and do not punish ourselves. Then try to forgive ourselves and try to let go. When we let go, we move on.

5) Travelling somewhere alone
If you can afford it, go travel in somewhere nearby, better still, if alone. Go see other parts of the world and come back. And we will feel that there is a wider world out there awaiting us to explore.

6) Volunteer
I actually think that volunteering in the community, in school or in any setting that appeals to us, helps a great deal! Volunteering our time to serve others is not just an act of selflessness, it is also a self-reminder that we are fortunate people who are capable of helping others and reaching out to others, and sometimes even make a difference to other's lives. This in itself can be quite empowering to ourselves. Whenever we reach out, we train our mind to be humble, we remind ourselves that we are not living in a singular but rather a plural world, and actually count our blessings. This has been exceptionally therapeutic for me, especially during difficult times.

7) Get professional help
Go seek professional help if things are getting worse, or just not getting any better. If you are not eating well, not sleeping well and generally feeling disinterested towards life for days, these are tell tale signs we need a helping professional - counsellor, social worker, psychologist or a coach - to step in and intervene.


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