It's Okay to Not Be Okay
Theresa Polley
August 23, 2023
September 6, 2023
Year of Self Care

I know what it feels like to pretend everything is okay – when it clearly isn’t. It’s challenging to put on a happy face to the world, while inside we’re suffering. Whether it’s mental or emotional pain, the effort to keep up a facade of “everything is fine” is exhausting. And no way to live.

And while it’s okay to not be okay, it’s also okay to tell people what’s really going on with you. It’s okay to say, “I’m not okay, I’m struggling, and I’m having a hard time.”

Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are. ~ Brené Brown

Just like Brené says let go of not only who you think you're supposed to be, but what you think you're supposed to be feeling. With all that’s going on in the world, know that you're not alone. Many of us are struggling. We're not okay and there’s no need to pretend that we are. Pretending to be something we aren’t takes a tremendous amount of energy. And I don't know about you, but I don't have any extra energy right now.

Identify What You’re Feeling

Oftentimes, when I’m not okay I don’t actually know what I’m feeling until I give myself the time and space to reflect. 

  • Grief – If you’ve experienced a devastating loss, even if it seems like it’s been “long enough,” grief and the overwhelming sense of loss may be hard to shake. Even a series of smaller losses can have a similar effect. There is no timeline on how long is acceptable to feel grief. Allow yourself to feel grief as long as needed. From my experience with grief, it starts out hard and fast and then gradually fades over months and years.
  • Anxiety – Constant uncertainty, not knowing what’s next (climate change, the economy) can lead to crushing stress and anxiety. Many of us feel safe when we “know” what’s coming. No one likes surprises - especially bad ones.
  • Fear – Anxiety over what’s happening – will your job be affected by the economy, will your grocery bill go up, will you be able to afford your rent – can cause fear over the unknown and a downward spiral into more anxiety or even depression.
  • Anger – Anger at your circumstances can start you on a path of avoidance which can lead to self defeating behaviors, which for some of us can be the beginning of a downward spiral into addictive behavior.

Oftentimes, our culture and society don’t offer us room to be anything other than okay. It can feel like there’s a sense of urgency to “get over it already.” We may believe we need to get over what is bothering us and move on, and sometimes that feels easier, but I believe that healing only comes when we allow ourselves time to fully process what we are going through. While there are no time limits or a specific right and wrong way when it comes to struggling and processing, if you find yourself engaged in self destructive behavior of a sense of hopelessness, you may want to talk to a therapist.

Activities that are part of our everyday routine give us a sense of purpose and control over our lives. Losing those routines may bring on depression, anxiety or both. As much as you can, keep your daily routine, but take breaks when you need to. If possible don’t take on any new responsibilities and ask for help from your partner, friends or a family member if you’re struggling.

Give Yourself Grace

One of the most important things you can do when you’re not okay, is give yourself grace. Here are some suggestions:

  • Be kind to yourself – talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend.
  • Stop judging yourself – know you're doing the best you can, even if it doesn’t feel that way.
  • Allow yourself time to process – take an hour, a day or even better a week or long weekend. 
  • Let go of "shoulds" – don't let anyone tell you (and stop telling yourself) that you should do this or that.
  • Make peace with imperfection – allow yourself to stop trying to do things the “right” way or perfectly. 
  • Let go of opinions, judgements and expectations – from yourself and from others. 

I was able to make peace (after years of struggle) with not being okay. Over the last few years, I've suffered big and small losses. Somedays it feels like I've lost so much and nothing is okay. Even though I know deep down everything (good or bad) is temporary. In order to protect my peace, I accept everything is not okay, and I choose to be okay with not being okay. It's a choice I make every morning.

Give Yourself Time and Space to Not Be Okay at a Retreat

Allow yourself the time and the space to not be okay - whatever that looks like and as often as you need to. Make caring for yourself a priority. You deserve it.

Join us for a weekend women’s retreat at Retreat in the Pines. We are located outside of Dallas-Fort Worth, designed to cultivate community, connection, and mind-body healing – just for women – in a serene, inclusive sanctuary. 

Leave your worries at the gate, get comfy and enjoy: chef-prepared meals, gentle yoga, guided meditations and as much rest as you want. Find connection, clarity and exactly what you need. View All Our Retreats

Come Back For More

This collection is part of our Year of Self Care Guide. Each month, you'll find a new collection of simple practices that will help you honor, love, forgive and prioritize yourself, week by week.

This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

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Theresa Polley

Theresa believes ALL women have the right to live life on their own terms. In 2004, she created Retreat in the Pines to give women a safe space to be their authentic selves without apology while finding the healing and renewal they deserve.

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