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Self-Care Strategies For When You Feel Mentally Out of Control

Updated: Apr 13, 2019


Photo: StockSnap

If you’re feeling desperate, alone, and helpless, it’s easy to get trapped in those emotions and believe there is no way out. But, you’re not alone. According to, each year nearly 10 million people in the United States have thoughts about self-harm. Many people who have having such thoughts struggle to see an end to their problems. However, problems -- even those that feel insurmountable -- are often temporary and the low point before a wonderful new era.

Here are some things you can do to take care of yourself when life feels out of your control:

Talk it Out

If you are having thoughts about hurting yourself, talk to someone about it. If you don’t feel you can talk to a friend or family member, there are many other people who want you to get better and want to listen to you -- people you’ve never met, but can reach out to. Look up numbers of crisis hotlines in your area -- help is available to you almost instantly, any time of day. If you prefer, you can go to your doctor and tell them how you have been feeling. In many cases, these negative thoughts are triggered by an underlying medical condition and when this is treated - maybe through therapy or medication - the thoughts go away.

Create a Healthy Home Environment

As Taking Charge, the well-being program at the University of Minnesota, points out, you can make your home a healing environment that reduces stress in a few simple ways. For example, if you declutter and tidy up your living spaces, it can make your home feel more spacious and relaxing. If you really don’t feel like cleaning, just work on one area at a time for 15 minutes a day. It will soon add up.

Natural light has been shown to improve mood, reduce eyestrain and increase energy, so keep curtains and blinds open. Although it might seem like a simple step, bringing nature into your house through plants, flowers, or even a fish tank, can also have a calming effect. While these changes aren’t going to solve all your problems, they might make you think about them more clearly.

Practice Meditation

Another thing you can do in your home is to set up a meditation area. In meditation, you sit down in a comfortable position, and focus your attention on the sensations cause by your breathing. At some point you’ll notice your mind has wandered -- that’s normal, just bring the attention back to your breath, and continue. It’s easy to get wrapped up in an emotion like sadness or anxiety, but mindfulness creates a space between the emotion and your reaction to it. This helps you to see that emotions arise because of thoughts you’re having, and by moving your attention away from these thoughts, the emotion passes away.


Try to exercise one to three times a week -- even if you don’t like the idea of it. Physical exercise is good for the mind -- it can lift your mood, improve your immune system and help you sleep better at night. If you suffer from mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse disorders, exercise can be especially good at promoting healing. Start with something easy like brisk walking, ideally in a natural environment like a park or green space. However, for the best results, and to make sure you’re exercising as safely as possible, visit a physical therapist who will be able to advise you further and build a program for you.

When to Get Help

If you have had any thoughts of taking drastic actions due to feelings of desperation, this is a sign you should get help. Even if you haven’t had thoughts like this, if you feel helpless, alienated, or trapped, that’s a sign that something is wrong and you should get help now.

The methods above can help improve your emotional well-being and keep yourself safe. However, if you feel that you have no alternative, stop for just a moment. Understand that you don’t have to face this struggle alone. Reach out to someone, whether that’s a friend, your doctor, or a crisis hotline. The best coping resource is another person.

Written by Guest Blogger: Melissa Howard

Melissa Howard believes that every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, she felt compelled to create St🚫p Suicide. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information.

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