Whoa nelly, am I deep in the whirling vortex that is self-criticism and self-doubt right now. I’m not sure when or how it started creeping back in (it does every so often) but the force is strong this time. That awful little voice inside has been telling me that I can’t do anything right, that nothing is perfect so why bother trying, that I have so much to do and take care of and cross off my list before I can even begin to play and have fun with my dreams, and I haven’t done nearly enough and can’t seem to focus on accomplishing even tiny tasks that need completing, so best to throw up my hands in surrender and do nothing.

Even writing this at this very moment, I am overcome with the realization of how terribly hard I am on myself. It’s so difficult to muster up the strength to fight that unkind voice sometimes. There are times, like today, when it feels like the only real thing I could, and should, do is to crawl back under the covers and force-feed my brain endless TV episodes so I can quiet all those harsh thoughts. The thing is, I know they aren’t coming from the real me, the soul. They are coming from this fearful part that exists alongside me that hasn’t learned to listen, only to yell out its pain until it drowns out everything else.

Heavy stuff, I know. The thing is, I’m pretty sure most of us deal with these sorts of thoughts and feelings every so often, maybe even on a regular or daily basis. When these dark internal clouds pass by, we have to work a little harder to take care of ourselves during these times. These are some of the things I try to do:

  • Talk to my therapist for some objective, professional help and insight

  • Reach out to trusted friends who will hold space for me to feel these feelings and offer up words of comfort and prayers

  • Move my body: a slow walk, a calming yoga video, or a few deep breaths and stretches

  • Turn away from the digital world, which for me means taking an Instagram detox (deleting app from my phone) and reading a book instead of zoning out with TV

  • Prepare a meal in my kitchen, sometimes healthy and filling and comforting

  • Clean — wash dishes, tidy up, or rearrange things, all of which help me to feel a bit more calm

There’s not really one “fix” for when this period of doubt and fear and sadness strikes, but I know I can always turn to one or all of the above methods to help me slow down, breathe deeply, and wait for the storms to pass. The biggest thing for me is writing or speaking these feelings to get them out into the light, to remind myself that they aren’t as scary, or as isolating, as they might seem. Asking for help, asking for what I need, and giving myself time is often the best medicine.