Feel Like Giving Up? How to Keep Going on Days You Just Can’t

by Andrea Blundell

Totally overwhelmed more often than not lately? Feel like giving up? It’s not an easy time in the world, and if this is combining with personal problems, it can just feel too much.

7 Things to do when you feel like giving up

How can you keep going when it feels too hard?

1. Bare bones things. 

Usually the idea is that putting things off just creates stress. “Why put off to tomorrow what you can do today”.

But when we are overwhelmed, trying to keep up appearances is just too much to ask for. If it can wait, let it.

Do this: Put your schedule down to only necessities. Cancel the Zoom call, forget about working on your side hustle today.  Get your work done, feed yourself, make it through the day, and give yourself credit for that.  Just for today, let it be enough. 

2. Remember that you are not your thoughts.

So apparently, according to the radio broadcast of your mind, you are not good enough, a failure, weak, useless, you mess everything up, you might as well just give up…. You get the picture.

The thing is these are just thoughts, not facts. And these thoughts are not even who you are.  If you were to turn the radio on and hear a talk show, would you take it all as true? Or would you question the host’s opinions?

Do this: The most powerful thing here can be to make contact with the real ‘You’. The one behind the chatter and judgements. And the best thing for this is mindfulness meditation, a tool now used by many talk therapists.

Find a quiet spot, sit very still, and ‘tune in’ to the radio of your mind. Hear each thought, thank it for ‘sharing’, then imagine it floating off, like a cloud.

Then ask yourself, who is it ‘listening’ to these thoughts? See if you can ‘sense’ the part of you watching you listen to these thoughts. This ‘watcher’ is you, without all the programming.

In an analysis of current research on mindfulness looking at data from over 19 studies, it was concluded that it was indeed an effective way to reduce psychological distress in working adults. [1]

3. Avoid ‘those’ types of friends.

We all know that friend who never ‘gets’ it. The one who, every time we try talk to them when we are feeling lost, brushes us off with platitudes. Or changes the conversation to tell their matching story, making it a competition, instead of even remotely listening. But we can’t think of anyone else to call. Or, deep down, we even call them to sabotage our mental wellbeing and punish ourselves further.

Talking to the wrong person when we are feeling very fragile is extremely toxic because it leaves us feeling alone and misunderstood. It can push us from feeling hopeless to feeling suicidal.

Do this: It would be better to call a helpline if you feel like giving up. The idea is admittedly intimidating at first, but the people on the other end know how to listen. Other things that can help include:

  • writing letters as if you are talking to a good friend
  • going on to mental health forums and chatting with others who ‘get’ depression
  • talking out loud to ‘God’ or your version of a higher power.

[Side note – those friends aren’t bad people. They just don’t know any better. Not everyone is good at being supportive. Try not to push them away entirely, which will only make you feel worse.]

4. Talk yourself through it.

It’s funny how we can so easily support friends or even acquaintances and colleagues through a crisis with words of support. But when we ourselves our floundering, where is that kindness?

feel like giving up

photo by: Sydney Rae

Try this: Be your own friend here by talking yourself through it. This can work best if you can talk out loud, but if you don’t have the privacy, talk to yourself in your head. It’s as if you are now two people, and the ‘friend to all’ part is talking to the ‘losing the plot today’ part. “You can do this. You have gotten through this before, you can get through today. And you are still here, still trying, that is what counts.”

This is the art of self compassion. A study looking at the effects of six weeks of mindful self-compassion found it helped with fatigue, stress and burnout. Given that the study was carried out on a group of psychologists who are used to helping others, and would already know other ways to fight stress, it shows just how effective turning our compassion inwards is. [2]

5. Fight back against the tormenting idea that you are alone.

No matter how alone you feel, you are on a planet with billions of people. Many of who are actually feeling exactly like you do right now. We might not know these others personally, but they understand. They have had similar heartaches and traumas. They are sensitive, important people, just like you.

Try this: Imagine all the other people sitting, perhaps also alone, in their houses all around the world. Sink into the feeling that your pain is not just your solo burden, but is in fact shared. If you like visualisation, you can imagine yourself looking down on the planet, and a coloured light or line connecting you to all the other people. 

6. Use distress techniques designed to help when you feel like giving up. 

Several types of talk therapy teach techniques to help under duress, particularly dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which offers what it calls “TIP skills”. This includes things like holding ice as a distraction from emotional pain, breathing from the gut, and ‘paired muscle relaxation’.

Try this: Go learn TIP skills in our article on ‘Techniques to Stop Distress‘. Also consider trying ‘progressive muscle relaxation‘, another stress-busting technique used by therapists.

7. Go for a walk. 

It can feel the most banal, annoying piece of advice. How could going for a walk help? First of all, it means a change of environment. Second, it gets you out of your thoughts and more into your body. Third, exercise releases chemicals in the body that help you feel better. There is a reason there is a therapist joke that a patient wanted to top himself in the office, and the therapist said, sure, but walk around the block eight times first.

TRY THIS: Do your best to walk in some sort of nature. A study coming out Stanford University found that walking for 90 minutes in a natural area showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with depression, more so than in those who walked in an urban setting. [3]

Is it time to stop floundering and start getting real support? We connect you to some of London’s most highly respected talk therapists. Or use our booking platform to find a therapist across the UK or an online therapist you can contact from anywhere. 


Have a tip for other readers to try that you find helps when you feel like giving up? Share below. Note we are unable to provide counselling via comments. 

Andrea BlundellAndrea Blundell is a mental health writer and content consultant with training in person-centred counselling, who has lived with depression since a child. She’s personally tried all of these techniques. Find her on Linkedin and Twitter

 

 

 

FOOTNOTES

[1] Virgili, M. Mindfulness-Based Interventions Reduce Psychological Distress in Working Adults: a Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies. Mindfulness 6, 326–337 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-013-0264-0.

[2] Eriksson Terese, Germundsjö Linnea, Åström Elisabeth, Rönnlund Michael. Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention. Frontiers in Psychology 9, 2340 (2018). doi=10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340. 

[3] Gregory N. BratmanJ. Paul HamiltonKevin S. HahnGretchen C. DailyJames J. Gross, Nature reduces rumination and sgPFC activation. 

 

find a therapist

Related Posts

    Desktop - CTA Journalist Tablet - CTA Journalist Mobile - CTA Journalist

    close icon

    ASK US A QUESTION

    Dr. Sheri Jacobson

    ARE YOU A JOURNALIST WRITING ABOUT THIS TOPIC?

    If you are a journalist writing about this subject, do get in touch - we may be able to comment or provide a pull quote from a professional therapist.





    Yes, I am a journalist Click here to confirm you are a journalist

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *