I've Read all the Self-Help Books – How Come I’m Not Doing Better?

Honestly, all the self-help blogs, friends, and even student health services have told me relatively the same things when it came to trying to battle out my anxiety and stress. Drink more water, they would say. Have a spa night, eat a salad, paint your nails. They pushed me to take a break when I felt like a break couldn’t be taken. Do what you used to love to do, maybe learn to knit. In a pessimistic summary, they all prompted me to live like a functional human being, even though I didn’t feel like one.

Now, my desks and shelves are littered with art supplies, face masks, and motivational quotes as if I am trying to mask myself with a happy, calm persona. There is a small “Don’t forget to smile today!” note written on my mirror, and a “Breathe” sticky note stuck to the keyboard of my laptop. I try to live my day through constant reminders that I shouldn’t be so stressed and so anxious all the time, yet I go to bed every night exhausted from trying to cope and I wake up every morning dreading the day to come.

It’s not like I didn’t find little joys throughout the day that I used to push myself through, like when I catch the bus right on time, or when a friend takes the time to deliver some coffee to me while studying. But often times the little things get drowned out by bigger things or at least things that are big to me. When a friend stops laughing at a joke, when I forget my laptop charger at home, when my sock rides down in my shoe. So many small, trivial things that mean nothing in the long run but at the moment, consumes my whole mind to the point that I can’t focus on other things.

A lot (and I mean a lot) of people and blogs have recommended for me to look at the big picture. To take a step back when I feel things start not going my way and remember how small the day is compared to the rest of my life. But trying to make it through every day is so exhausting, and knowing I will have to do the same the next day makes it even more tiring to think about.

However, the biggest change I’ve had in myself was that I started to believe in myself. I wouldn’t let trivial things trigger my anxiety or push me down too far. I fought back on myself when I was getting into negative headspaces, and gradually, I started to win. There are still exhausting days that I just couldn’t imagine being able to get over, but I still ended up making it to another day.

What I realized, really, was that the little advice that I was given to help cope, like to drink more water or to take more deep breaths, is like the bandaid. Used to cover a cut or scrape and prevent it from getting worse, but the bandaid isn’t what heals it. It is me, taking the time I need to scar and heal.


Sometimes all you really need is time. There aren’t life hacks and quick fixes to feeling better. You can only trust in the universe, trust in the process, and trust in yourself.


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