What is wrong with me? How to help yourself when you’re feeling low.

Somedays you feel like you're on top of the world and you have it all together.  Other days you ask, "What is wrong with me?" and all you want to do is hide under your blanket.

You get this unsettling feeling deep inside and it makes you question every single decision you've ever made in your life, causing you stress and anxiety.

When this happens, your natural instinct may be to talk yourself out of what you're feeling. You convince yourself that there's nothing wrong with you, push the feeling or thought down, and then ignore it.

I used to do this myself - ignore my own feelings and thoughts when I felt like there was something wrong with me.

Usually, it would have the opposite effect; my feelings only amplified and my mind raced even more.

I learned the hard way that running away from my problem instead of dealing with it right away can oftentimes make life seem much worse than it actually is.

In order to help yourself, you have to investigate where the problem is coming from.  In order to figure out where the problem is coming from, you need to face whatever it is that's wrong with you; and this is not always easy.

Woman wondering, "What is wrong with me?"

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What it's like when it feels like something is wrong with you.

We have all been there.  Those times when we feel depressed, anxious, or sad and we can't explain it.  It feels like a black cloud that seems to follow us around.

Other times it may feel like boredom or emptiness, or even physical, like nausea or a headache.

Regardless of what you experience, you want to pull yourself out of the deep end because being in a funk all the time can take its toll.  It is important to learn how to help ourselves regain our sense of well-being.

The first thing to do if you are feeling down is to take care of yourself.  How do you do that?  By becoming aware of the problem.

You may not know where to start, so I put a list of the things you might be feeling when you feel like something is wrong with you.  Later on, I'll go over the ways you can help yourself feel better.

But first…

If your symptoms are severe, please reach out for help from a professional counselor or doctor who can help you through this difficult time in your life.  You click here to find out more.

Feeling unsettled.

You may be feeling unsettled when there is something going on in your life that is not allowing you to get into your groove.

It can be likened to the feeling you get when you are walking into a room full of people you don't know, starting a new job, buying a new home, or beginning a new relationship.

Then there are times in life that could make you feel unsettled and you don't even know the reason why.

I get this way often, without any obvious reason and I used to try to understand why.  I found that it's better to let the feeling pass through and allow understanding to come later on.

Feeling lost.

Feeling lost means feeling out of touch and off-track with yourself, your life, and your purpose.

You walk around not really knowing where you are going or what to do next – kind of like being in the middle of nowhere without cell phone coverage or GPS signal.

When we feel lost, it is often because we don't know what direction we should go in our lives.  We want to do one thing but we're too busy because we're doing something else more important.

We create blocks that prevent us from getting to our own truth, like not being honest with ourselves or limiting ourselves so we don't have to take responsibility for ourselves.

Or maybe we don’t know what direction to even take because we spent most of our life following what someone else wanted for us.  Sometimes we just need time to figure out what it is WE want.

This can happen at any stage of our lives, from our teen years all the way up through adulthood.

We may find ourselves at a crossroads or needing direction in our lives and can become lost as a result.  Then you feel like something is wrong with you when really what you need is to get yourself back on track.

Feeling stuck in a rut.

You may have a strong desire to move forward in life but are unable to change your circumstances, so you feel helpless.

This can leave you feeling trapped and losing hope of things getting better.  Then you feel like there is something wrong with you because you think you should know how to get yourself unstuck.

There are many external factors that can cause this feeling such as obligations, family commitments, social pressures, economic conditions, disability, political upheaval, warfare, etc.

Just know that it's not your fault and the situation may even be out of your control.

Can't think straight.

The thoughts that are running through your mind can feel like your reality.  They can be positive sometimes but for a lot of us, they are negative thoughts that are constantly swirling through our heads.

Negative thoughts that repeat over and over can get stuck in your mind and leave you feeling overwhelmed.

And when they continue to spiral downward, they can be difficult to stop.

Then you feel like there must be something terribly wrong with you because you can't turn off the noise inside your mind no matter how hard you try.

Feeling ill.

When you think there's something wrong with you, sometimes it's an illness that isn't obvious to you and you're just too tired or overwhelmed to even notice it.

Illness can manifest physically or mentally.

You may experience unexplained aches and pains or find yourself catching every cold or flu bug that comes along.

Physical illness can be related to mental stress, anxiety, or even a hormonal imbalance.

When you're under stress for long periods, it can take a toll on your body, which can lead to other ailments and more stress.

Be aware of what is going on physically or mentally because it can lead to resolution and you feeling better.

Feeling bored or empty.

You know that feeling of apathy - you're bored because things feel a bit too routine; like you're operating on autopilot and you're just going through the motions.

But you feel guilty because your basic needs are met and you shouldn't be feeling bored or empty.

Sometimes boredom or emptiness is a good thing.  It may mean that everything in your life is so stable that you have to channel your energy elsewhere and make it more productive for you.

Boredom can sometimes be a signal to do something challenging, something that will stimulate your mind, body, and spirit; something that will give you purpose in life.

If it feels difficult, know that you can always get help for this and there is no shame in feeling this way.

Loneliness.

Feeling lonely is a part of life and everyone experiences it at some point or another.

Loneliness can come from not having anyone to share your life with.  Or you can feel lonely even with people around you, like your family, coworkers, or social circle.

However, if you're having a constant feeling of loneliness, then it could lead to more than just feeling like there's something wrong with you.

According to a study, loneliness can be more deadly than smoking because it can take a toll on your physical health.

If you're feeling lonely, know that there's no shame in feeling this way.  The first step is to acknowledge that you're feeling it, then you can take the necessary steps, however long it may be, to start feeling less lonely.

Anxiety.

When you feel anxious, you may experience the following:

  • Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and muscle tension.
  • Shallow and increased breathing.
  • Thoughts of worry and concern about the future.
  • Worrying about something that happened in the past and having feelings of shame, guilt, fear, etc.
  • Feeling nervous, full of dread, or frozen from fear.

Anxiety can feel like you're on edge.  You feel like you're unable to calm down or relax; fearful that something awful may happen and you don't know what it is.

You want to run away so you can avoid what's making you feel anxious but you can't.  You want to change things, turn yourself into someone else to escape, but you know it's wishful thinking.

It's fine to feel anxious, even if it feels like there's nothing you can do about it.  It's not a sign of weakness to admit that you're feeling this way.

Sometimes it might feel like anxiety is never going to end, but it is a temporary feeling.  There are ways you can alleviate anxiety, like asking someone to help you, practicing mindfulness, and being compassionate toward yourself.

Depression.

According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America),  about 17.3 million adults age 18 or older in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2017, making up about 6.7 of the adult population.

It's more common in women than men and can manifest in many different ways.

Here is a list of what you might experience if you're depressed:

  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Little interest in anything.
  • Tiredness
  • Low energy
  • Inability to focus.
  • Change in appetite or weight.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Your mood feels flat, you lose of interest in activities you used to enjoy, you feel sad, you're tired all the time, and you can't seem to focus.

You feel hopeless and helpless like there's nothing good in your life.  It can be extremely difficult to get out of bed in the morning and face the day because your mind is numb, exhausted, foggy, and cloudy, even though you've slept for hours.

Depression can make you feel like there's something terribly wrong with you and it can be very scary.

We all have bad days. No one is happy every minute of their lives.  But depression is different.  It can hit out of the blue, with no reason at all;  or it can be triggered by events in your life and you don't even know you're going through it.

After I had my third child, I had post-partum depression and didn't even know it at the time.  What made it worse was that I told myself I shouldn't be feeling this way.

If it feels overwhelming, know that there's always help.  You can call tthe SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Menttal Health Services Administration) helpline for free: 800-662-HELP (4357).

How to help yourself.

When you're feeling low, it can be hard to motivate yourself to make changes that could improve your mood or outlook.  However, even small steps in the right direction can help.

The following suggestions are not meant to be medical advice.  They are ideas that have helped me get to a better place and I hope they guide you through the process of taking care of yourself so you can feel better.

10 ways you can help yourself get better.

1. Take a break.

Take a break, like a coffee break, a nap, or even a vacation; do something that can help refresh your system.

Breaks can help you get away from whatever it was that was keeping you busy and preoccupied.

They keep you from getting too tired and give you a much needed energy boost.

When you feel better, you're better able to deal with what's going on around you so that when you come back from your break, things may look different and you may have a different (or even better) perspective on things.

2. Get a good night's rest.

You may be sleep-deprived and all you need to feel better is a good night's sleep.  Sleep may give your brain time to organize your memories and regulate your emotions, according to a sttudy on sleep.

Most of the time, sleep is the first thing I turn to when I think something is wrong with me.  I usually feel better and my mood and thoughts improve.

If you are having trouble sleeping talk to your GP about treatment options.

3. Journal.

A journal can be a great way to figure out why you feel like there's something wrong with you.

Make a list of your feelings so they are out of your head and you can see them clearly on paper. This can be done in a fun way like creating a mood board or simply writing it down so that you can step back and look at your feelings objectively.

Writing your thoughts and feelings down can help you sort out the issues that are bothering you.

You can use a simple notebook and keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and behavior.  Or you can use your phone or computer as your journal and keep track of your emotions & behavior.

4. Increase your awareness.

Awareness is observing what is going on in the present moment.  The best way to increase your awareness is to catch yourself in action, when you're going about your daily activities, or when you interact with others.

You learn to accept and recognize your thoughtts and feelings as they come up without attaching emotions to tthem.

When you become more self-aware, you're better able to process your emotions and feelings.

Increasing your awareness allows you to change and transform your life in positive ways.

5. Be mindful.

Mindfulness is a form of engaged awareness and is a very powerful practice. It helps you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and to view them in an objective way so you can decrease your suffering and increase your compassion for yourself and others.

In doing so, it helps you stop ruminating over the past or worrying about the future so you can relieve negative feelings. Engaged mindfulness is a meditative practice that involves fully immersing yourself fully in the present moment.

It makes you focus on what's happening right now rather than allowing your mind to worry about the past or future.  It's also said to help reduce stress and increase happiness.

You can try mindfulness while you are meditating, or you can do it while you are eating, walking, or even driving.  The goal of mindfulness meditation is not to clear the mind of thoughts but simply to be aware of each thought or feeling as it comes for you without attaching judgment or emotions.

As those thoughts and feelings come up, just notice them and allow yourself to experience them.  Over time the intensity decreases and your sense of well-being improves.

6. Create goals.

If you want to start feeling better, the best way is to take action.  You can start by creating goals.  Goals are things that you aspire towards in life. Your goals don't have to be huge.  In fact, you can have both big and small goals.

When you set goals, you want to begin with the end in mind.

What do you want to happen in 5 years or even a year?

Make a list of things you might want to do with your life, like take a vacation, get a degree, set up a retirement fund, or buy a house. Then start creating large goals based on your list.

When you're done with your list of big goals, you can set small, achievable goals for yourself each day, such as exercising for 30 minutes or making healthy food choices.

Having goals can help improve your overall life satisfaction and well-being, according to a study.  People who have goals in life are happier, better able to deal with anxiety, and more resilient.

When I make goals and I'm able to complete them, I notice an improvement in my self-esteem and confidence.

When you create goals, be sure you make them SMART.

  • Specific - be specific with your goals, for instance, "I want to lose 10 pounds in 30 days."
  • Measurable: keep track of your progress.
  • Achievable: be aware of your available resources so you can complete your goals.
  • Relevant: align your goals with your values and beliefs.
  • Time-bound: make sure you give yourself enough time to complete each goal and break it down into smaller ones if you have to.

7. Pamper yourself.

Self-pampering, such as going to a salon to get your hair cut and styled, may enhance your well-being.  According to a study, it can act as a buffer again depression.

Treating yourself and taking good care of yourself is not only good for you but can enhance your quality of life.

You might think that it's overindulgent to get your nails done, take a bath, read a good book, or go see a movie because you don't have enough time or you don't have the money.

But if you think about the cost of not taking care of yourself and putting it off, they can add up over time.

A small treat for yourself doesn't have to cost much.  You can do something small like going for a walk, buying a small treat, or listening to your favorite music for just 5 minutes.

8. Get moving.

Studies have shown that exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety and is a natural mood booster.

Any form of movement that you enjoy can help you improve your overall well-being.

One of my favorite ways to exercise is to walk outdoors.  Walking outdoors gives you the double benefit of exercise and being out in nature.

Think of ways that you can get moving more.  Do you like gardening, lifting weights, swimming, bicycling, or yoga?

Just make sure that you check with your doctor if you have a condition about the best exercise options for you.

9. Optimize your health.

Optimizing your health can help improve your health and well-being.  The best thing about this is there are a myriad of ways to do it.  One of my favorite ways is through a holistic approach, such as Ayurveda.

Practice Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is an ancient approach to holistic health from India, which uses body type, diet and lifestyle changes to treat disease and promote good health.  Ayurvedic medicine has been around for thousands of years, so it's worth trying out if you've never used it before to help improve and optimize your health.

Eat healthy.

Make sure that you are eating healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.  Avoid too many processed foods with refined sugars and white flour; too much of a good thing can affect you in the long run.

Have caffeine in moderation and limit alcohol consumption.

Hydrate.

Many people know that you need to drink enough water to stay healthy.  But dehydration is often overlooked as a cause of problems, ailments, and issues pertaining to the body.

Be sure you stay hydrated to keep yourself healthy.  You'd be surprised at how much it can improve your well-being.

10. Take action.

Sometimes simply taking action can help improve your mood.  Here are some ways to take action to help yourself feel better.

Write down a list of joyful things.

Make a list of joyful things and do them.  Do whatever brings you joy, like watching your favorite movie, shopping at your favorite store, taking a walk in the woods, watching funny movies, dancing, or spending time with friends or family.

Doing something joyful each day raises your mood and uplifts your spirits.

Do some random acts of kindness.

A random act of kindness is an act of kindness you do for yourself or someone else that is not premeditated and there's no expectation of returning the favor.  Random acts of kindness can benefit you, according to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

It can be hard to do a random act of kindness for yourself or others but the more you do it the better you'll get at it.

It doesn't have to be big, just a simple smile or hello can make someone's day.

Hang out with a positive person.

It's important to spend time with people who are positive, upbeat and supportive – even if they seem like the last thing you want right now!  Being around positive people can help lift your mood and keep you feeling good.

If you feel like you're surrounded by negativity, it can be helpful to spend some time with someone who has an optimistic attitude. They don't have to solve your problems for you — just being around their positive energy may help lift your spirits.

Getting help from others.

Sometimes seeking help others, such as your friends and family members, is more helpful than trying to do it on your own.

Help from family and friends.

If you feel comfortable talking with friends or family, they can provide some much-needed support while you're getting back on your feet. Call them up, meet them for coffee or drinks - whatever works for you.

Having someone who cares about you will give you that extra bit of motivation to keep going when things are tough.

It's important for you to have a strong support group of people who care about you, who you trust and who will listen to how you feel without judging you.  Sometimes it's hard to reach out for help, but remember that your friends and family want the best for you — they'll want you to get better.

Help from a professional.

Sometimes, it's hard to talk about mental health issues with the people closest to us.  If this is the case for you, consider seeking professional help from a trained counselor or therapist.

A mental health professional can give you an accurate diagnosis of your condition and determine whether or not medication is right for you.

A licensed professional can also teach you coping strategies that may improve your quality of life.  They'll be able to offer advice and support without judgment and will be trained in helping you manage your emotions and troubles.

You can find a therapist near you by asking at your local hospital or community center.  If money is tight, look into low-cost counseling programs in your community or ask about sliding scale fees (which means the fee is based on your income).  Some providers even take insurance and don't require a referral.

The first step towards getting better is to make sure you're not alone. Getting help from a professional can help you put a plan in place for overcoming what's making you feel low.

Make sure you're honest about how you feel, and don't try to tough it out on your own.  It's common to feel embarrassed or guilty about feeling down, but it's important to remember that your feelings are valid, and you deserve to be helped.

"To feel human is to experience all kinds of ups and downs in life."

Closing thoughts.

To feel human is to experience all kinds of ups and downs in life.  But when your feelings become overwhelming, and you can't easily come back to to normal, you might ask yourself, "What is wrong with me?"

No matter what you are going through, know that there is always something you can do about it, whether you are feeling depressed, anxious, sad, etc.

You can journal, exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and do all the things you need to in order to optimize your health and take care of yourself.

If that isn't enough, you can turn to others for help or even call a licensed professional or an organization that can help you in a time of crisis.

Remember that it's not weakness to help yourself or ask others for help.  There are places you can call such as SAMHSA: 800-662-HELP (4357).

If you're having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

FAVORITE TOOLS

Here are some of my favorite tools that can help you know yourself better, follow your bliss, find your purpose in life, and create a life you love!

THE ARTIST'S WAY
This book is by Julia Cameron and is a guide that helps you rediscover who you are by finding your inner artist.

SPIRAL NOTEBOOK
A blank spiral notebook is a great tool for journaling, taking notes, doodling, and much more!

THE DAY DESIGNER PLANNER
The Day Designer Planner is a great way to stay focused, keep track of your goals, and so much more!

Christine Songco is the creator of Third Bliss and is passionate about helping others thrive holistically by finding their purpose and living life with more authenticity and joy. Christine has been featured in WebMD, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, Philips Lifeline, Owl Guru, and The Lifestyle Blogger UK.

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