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Do you feel stuck and miserable a lot of the time?

Do you keep getting into destructive relationships with people who lie, cheat, and don’t keep their promises? Or who are constantly putting you down and shaming you?

Do you feel hopeless and like nothing you do can possibly make a difference?

Are you constantly feeling so stressed and anxious that it’s harming your physical wellbeing?

You deserve to have joy, connection, and satisfaction.

Depression or anxiety can seem like a fog that blocks the sun and makes you feel like the world will always be cold and dark.

But the sun is still there, even if you can’t see it or feel it right now.

The challenge is to figure out what makes it hard for you to ask for help, and how to make sure that the kind of support you get is truly right for you.

Lots of things make it hard to ask for help.

Recognizing and naming specifically what stops you can take the power out of these barriers. For example:

  • “I don’t want to be a burden.”
  • “When I asked for help, people told me I was overreacting and making things up.”
  • “The person who helped me took advantage of my trust and vulnerability.”
  • “I don’t want to be seen as weak.”
  • “I’d rather not talk about my problems because thinking about these things makes me feel worse.”

The reality is that:

  • Everyone is vulnerable and has problems in one way or another.
  • If someone is unkind or disrespectful, you can protect your feelings and keep looking until you find the help you need.
  • People who love you would rather have you tell them than have you suffer alone, even if they are busy and overwhelmed themselves.
  • Although it is true that exploring a problem can feel worse at first, doing this is like cleaning a wound so it can heal, instead of letting it fester.
  • The right kind of people truly appreciate an opportunity to help, and will feel honored to have your trust.

Seek support from people who treat you with kindness and respect.

Someone who cares about you a lot still might not have the skills to help. When people lack skills, they might even laugh, tell you you’re wrong, or say things that feel hurtful.

This doesn’t mean they don’t care. It DOES mean that finding another person to help you is a good idea.

Look for people who treat others kindly and respectfully. Even if they don’t know how to help, they might be able to help you keep looking for someone who has the knowledge and skills you need.

No matter what their position is, notice if someone is doing things or saying things that cross your boundaries in ways that are not in your best interest. Trust your intuition and be willing to change your mind, even if the other person will be offended.

Sometimes, you will not be sure what you need – but you know you need help.

It might take you a few tries – or a lot! to find just the right person in your life to help with the challenges you are facing. Keep advocating for yourself – you are worthy and deserve to feel physically and emotionally safe and well, and you deserve to have the help you need.

Friends, relatives, mentors, coaches, neighbors, community leaders, physicians, and many others in your life are people who might be able to share ideas and perspectives that help.

Here’s a powerful story about how a young person knew how to ask for help in order to prevent a tragedy: Suicide Prevention Success Story: The Opposite of Cyberbullying.

Be willing to get professional help. There are countless resources available.

Keep looking until you find the support you need. Here are just a few of the many organizations you can contact for help.

Anonymous Hotlines where you can talk to a counselor:

Support groups where people discuss problems with the guidance and expertise of a trained facilitator:

You can also find a counselor or therapist that you can meet with one on one. Our article Choosing a Therapist can help you to:

  • Overcome resistance
  • Learn about your choices
  • Check credentials and references
  • Look for the ‘right fit’
  • Make a plan and keep checking in

For more, visit our Mental Health resources page.

Focus on what you CAN do

Constantly thinking and worrying about big problems outside your control can make you stressed, anxious, and distracted – without making anything better.

Focus instead on small, positive steps that you have the power to take.

Even one small, positive action can help replace isolation and despair with connection and hope.


Make self-care a high priority

Most of us know that getting the rest, exercise, connection, nourishment, and care we need will make us calmer, happier, and more prepared to do our work and help others.

The problem is that making enough time for self-care can feel impossible with work, school, and family responsibilities.

It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that we can get by with far less self-care than we actually need.

Without investing in ourselves, we are harming ourselves.

This is why it’s essential to make nurturing ourselves a top priority in our daily lives.


Develop & choose positive beliefs

Beliefs are thoughts we have over and over until we become convinced they are true.

Some are empowering. Some are limiting. All are changeable. Just deciding to change a negative belief probably won’t work at first because it won’t feel true.

For example, going from “I hate my body” to “I love my body” doesn’t happen just because we decide we want a new belief about our body.

Instead of trying to make a big leap that doesn’t feel true, you can use a strategy to change a negative belief in smaller steps, gradually, over time.


Protect your feelings

Have you ever felt miserable because of something cruel that someone said or did to you? Has this experience made you miserable over and over again every time you remember it?

You have the power to protect your feelings so that you can stay safe emotionally.

Here’s how.


Create safe and strong relationships

Developing safe and strong relationships helps us to reduce isolation, protect our mental health, and add joy and purpose to our lives.

Even one strong connection with a caring person can help to replace despair with hope.

Times of transition often lead to the loss of ongoing close relationships. Even if you don’t have someone you can talk with on a personal level right now, brief, positive exchanges with strangers and acquaintances can brighten our whole day. A smile, a wave, or a short chat about the weather can help us to feel more connected and less alone.

Here are some ways to meet new people and improve your relationships.


Set & respect boundaries

Do you ever feel misunderstood, taken for granted, or disrespected?

By speaking up clearly, respectfully, and powerfully, for what you DO and DO NOT want, you can reduce stress, improve communication, and prevent and solve problems.

Setting boundaries can help you to protect your time, your feelings, your body, your safety, and your mental and physical wellbeing.


Support others

Have you ever seen a friend or family member struggling emotionally? Maybe they were depressed or anxious or very sad because of a loss?

Many of us really want to help, and we aren’t always sure how. We might feel that whatever we do just isn’t enough, or we’re worried about doing the wrong thing and making someone feel worse.

The simple things can make a big difference.

Helping someone in need can improve your mood, your sense of wellbeing, and your sense of connection.

Here are some ideas of how to help others while still taking care of yourself.


Recognize and ask for what you want

One of the most important keys to good mental health is being able to do things that give you joy, satisfaction, and success in your life.

In order to do this, you first have to determine your own values, goals, and priorities.

Next, you have to look at what your options are and figure out some specific next steps for taking action.

And then, you need to be prepared to advocate for yourself persistently, respectfully and powerfully.

Here are some ways to recognize and ask for what you want.


Protect your personal safety

Too much misery, suffering, and trauma are caused by abuse, bullying, and assault.

The good news is that you have the power to protect yourself most of the time.

Here are some ways that you can develop the confidence and skill to take charge of your personal safety at home, at work, online, and in public.