Most people experience times when they feel crap or down. This can mean different things for different people.
There can be lots of understandable reasons for feeling crap every now and then. It doesn’t have to mean that you have depression.
Why you feel low
Sometimes it’s difficult to work out why you are feeling the way you are. Identifying what’s contributing to the feeling might help to work out how to deal with it. Remember, it’s just a feeling and is likely to pass.
Some reasons you might be feeling crap:
- You have experienced one or several big or small stressful events or tough times
- People around you are experiencing tough times – it’s not uncommon for other people’s tough times to influence how you’re feeling. This may be because you care about them and it’s hard to see them unhappy. Or it may be because the way they’re coping means that they are difficult to be around
Not being able to identify the reason for how you are feeling is not uncommon either.
Factors that may be making you feel low:
- Stress or anxiety – stress can come from many different sources, eg. exams, parents, teachers, or your own expectations, pressures at school, work or home
- Grief or loss – the death of a loved one, or the end of a relationship or friendship
- Depression – or other mental health problems.
- Family problems – parents getting a divorce or fighting, step-family issues
- Problems at school, college or work – bullying, dealing with expectations/pressures
- Relationship or friendship problems – breaking up with someone or fighting
- Moving into a new house
- Starting at a new school or job
- Being a carer or living with someone with a mental health problem or a physical illness
- Feeling bored, for instance during the school holidays.
Physical or biological factors might also influence your feelings and reactions, and how you think about things and yourself.
These might include:
- Not eating well
- Not getting enough exercise
- Not getting enough sleep
- Drugs or alcohol
- Illness – being sick, or fighting off illness, can make you feel run down and unwell
- Chronic illness or other medical conditions
- Hormonal changes in women during your menstrual cycle can make you feel crap. This may happen a few days before you get your period and you may not make the connection immediately.
What to do when you’re feeling sad
When you feel crap, you might feel the urge to lash out at someone, even if they had nothing to do with how you’re feeling. Here are some ideas to stop you from this kind of reaction and get to a happier place.
Talk to someone – talking to someone you feel comfortable with, such as a friend, parent or counsellor, can be a great way of expressing your feelings. These people are also well placed to help you identify why you’re feeling crap and help you work out strategies for dealing with it. Check out the benefits of talking to someone.
Get some head space – sometimes getting some head space and a change of scenery can be helpful. Go for a walk, listen to your favourite music, read a book, or go to the movies – whatever works for you.
Express your feelings – writing down your feelings, or keeping a journal, can be a great way of understanding feelings about a particular situation. It can also help to think about alternative solutions to problems.
There are other ways you may consider expressing your feelings that won’t cause bodily damage to yourself or another person. Try yelling or crying into a pillow, dancing around the room to loud music or punching a pillow.
Look after yourself
Feeling crap may be your body telling you it needs to take time out, and pushing yourself might just make things worse. Take time out to spoil yourself by doing something that you usually enjoy. Even though you might not feel like it, exercising and eating well can help. Getting plenty of sleep can also help.
Exercise – this helps stimulate hormones, such as endorphins, which help you feel better about yourself and your life.
If you haven’t done a lot of exercise before, it’s a good idea to start doing something small a couple of times each week, such as a 15 minute walk or two or three laps of a pool. Visit your GP for a general check-up to make sure there isn’t any physical problem.
Be creative – find things to distract yourself from feeling crap and that help you to try to start thinking creatively.
Avoid drugs and alcohol – try not to use alcohol or other drugs (including lots of caffeine or other energy boosting drinks), to make yourself feel better. The feeling they give you is usually temporary and the after-effects often make you feel worse.
If you’re finding the feeling isn’t going away and it’s interrupting your daily life, it might be a good idea to talk to your GP. Have a look at face-to-face help for different ways of getting support.