Below are some of the challenges that most of us will face at some point in our lives. We have outlined the most common emotional challenges of our time so that you can understand what they are and know that you are not alone.
Depression can take on a lot of different forms.
It might not necessarily look like the cliché of teary, long-faced sadness. It might be subtler and quieter than that. A depressed person might look perfectly normal to everyone around them.
Sometimes it shows up as a lack of interest in the things you used to care about or a general feeling that life has no meaning. You might feel guilty, irritable, unmotivated, flat or indecisive. Sometimes it's feeling, day after day, that you are not worth anything.
Regardless of the form it takes, depression is very common and can easily leave us feeling like we are alone and that there is no hope left for us.
Depression can also be very serious and so it's important that you tell somebody what you’re going through. This might be a trusted friend, a sibling or parent, or a doctor. The thing about depression is, it is a very good liar. It tells us what we are feeling is absolutely true and permanent. It is good at convincing us that we are losers or ugly or useless or unimportant.
That is why it's important to tell somebody, because having someone else know what we're feeling can help bring us back to reality and ensure we do not cause harm to ourselves.
The most important thing to remember is that depression is not who you are. It is like an overcast sky: just beyond your sadness is a blue sky and sunshine. We just need to work out how to clear the clouds.
Like depression, anxiety can take on a lot of different forms and looks different for every individual.
While depression might make you feel heavy, slow, and unmotivated, anxiety often feels like a restlessness that will not end. It might make you feel nervous, on edge, irritable or even angry. It might make you feel manic, like you cannot stop doing-doing-doing. It could be that you feel so worried about something bad happening that you struggle to leave your house.
While it is normal to feel stressed from time to time, normal stress should pass once the difficult event is over. But anxiety sticks around and often there is no cause for it. It's an uncomfortable, unsettled feeling in the body and mind and it might hold you back from being your best self.
Social media has become a huge part of our lives.
While it brings a lot of good – new friendships, constant connection, a sense of belonging to niche groups and interests – it can also be highly toxic. It can easily make us feel like we are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, successful enough… We are being fed only the best of other people's lives, curated and filtered to perfection, which algorithms then sort in order of popularity. What you end up seeing is not reality, but yet we get tricked into thinking it is.
The key is to be aware of how it makes you feel when you're interacting with it. Do you get tense, hold your breath, get angry? OR does it make you smile, make you laugh, feel inspired, warm fuzzy feeling inside? Taking this kind of mindful, self-aware approach to social media allows us to interact with it in a way where we are in control, rather than letting our emotional wellbeing get hijacked as we mindlessly swipe.
Toxic relationships can be with anyone.
A friend. A partner. A parent. A boss. You can know you're in a toxic relationship if you pay close attention to how other people make you feel. A kind, loving person who is worthy of your energy should make you feel happy, light, hopeful, acceptable and energised. A person who is toxic will make you feel drained, worthless, low, depleted, depressed, anxious… or worse.
Of course, we all have our bad days and nobody is going to be 100% amazing with you at all times, but when you tally up how many good moments there are to bad ones, you can identify a toxic relationship when the bad moments grossly outweigh the good.
We might suffer toxic relationships when we feel unworthy of love. We might think: 'This is as good as it gets, I'll never find anyone better.' We might come to believe that we need another person in order to be safe, and that we must endure their toxicity or else we'll be alone, miserable, and unloved forever.
But here is the truth: Everything you need to be happy is in you. It is, of course, wonderful to have love and friendships in our lives, but nothing is as important as the relationship we have to ourselves. Nurture that above all else. Prioritise the people who make you feel light, the ones who make you smile.