Self-help articles on the internet really fucking suck.

Sometimes I have a problem, and sometimes I turn to good ol’ Google for possible solutions to that problem.

In particular, health-related problems, usually of the mental variety thanks to my lengthy career in food service and retail management. There’s a reason I go by the handle “Angry_Jerk”, you know.

It’s not that I don’t know how to deal with these problems (alcohol works wonders), it’s that sometimes it can be therapeutic to know that others have dealt with the same shit you have, contrary to what some “web psychologists” think. It makes me feel better knowing that I’m not the only asshole putting himself through hell and dealing with the psychological effects of burnout so the government can use my tax dollars to support welfare leeches or import more ISIS operativ- I mean, Syrian refugees.

If you can brave sifting through the copious amounts of numbered list-style articles from Buzzfeed clones, you will find that there are a plethora of regular articles on how to manage things like depression, anxiety, anger, sleeplessness, and stress, most of which are just as worthless as the numbered lists. In the end, it seems like everyone has basically plagiarized each other, taking the same exact key points for everything and rewording them just enough to avoid actual plagiarism (which is disappointing because I’d love nothing more than for all these content aggregators to sue each other out of existence) but not enough to make you not feel like you’re just reading the same bullshit over and over. It seems that almost every mental and physical ailment can be managed in the same exact ways.

The most common suggestion I see for pretty much everything and anything is this shit about Omega 3 and Omega 6, two “essential acids” commonly found in fish and nuts. If the internet is anything to go by, the human race can achieve immortality by increasing our levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6, and fish oil caplets cure everything except cancer, which it turns out they can actually cause (because fucking everything can cause cancer, just kill yourself now before the cancer does). Yes, there are many health benefits to Omega 3 and 6. Unfortunately, most of them are benefits you will never really notice. Fortunately for the marketing teams of companies like Nature’s Bounty and Sundown, the average person doesn’t realize this. If you’re a normal healthy adult, taking fish oil caplets is comparable to taking your normal, perfectly-functioning car in every few months for a tune-up. You don’t really need to do it, but it doesn’t hurt, and will help slightly decrease the odds of something going wrong later. If you’re facing any significant health issue, taking fish oil is comparable to replacing the parts in your busted-ass ’88 Honda Civic as they break. Yes, it technically helps, but not enough for it to matter, since you’ll just keep having problems until you tackle the source of the problem, which in the car’s case is the fact that you’re driving an old ass fucking car that you bought from some shady street-corner dealership. Just like it’s more efficient and effective to work towards getting a better car that doesn’t need frequent repairs, it’s better to not waste time or money on fish oil. Take it from the guy who spent years and probably thousands on the stuff, fish oil is snake oil.

Another frequent suggestion is to cut out caffeine, sugar, and alcohol from your diet. Because apparently these are all recent inventions, and the human race hasn’t already been indulging in these for thousands of years. No matter what the problem is, one of the suggestions is always “Avoid caffeine, sugar, and alcohol”. That’s right, your coffee and beer are to blame for everything, including erectile dysfunction, ISIS, Donald Trump’s presidency, and global warming. Obviously overindulging in any of these can lead to serious problems, but to suggest that they’re the cause of pretty much anything wrong with you is fucking retarded. If caffeine, sugar, and alcohol were really responsible for things like depression and anxiety, the human race would have never even made it to the middle ages, because we’d have killed ourselves. Billions of normal everyday people around the world drink coffee, soda, and booze every day. The average person is pretty stupid, but I wouldn’t say they all have serious mental health problems. While it doesn’t hurt to eat and drink a little better, completely avoiding caffeine, sugar, and alcohol isn’t going to help, it’s just going to add another stressor to the mix because now you have one less way to enjoy yourself.

The third-most common suggestion, and probably the most frustrating of them all, is meditation. I have never been able to do this, and I suspect the average person can’t either. I have no problem with meditation in general, if you can do it it’s a very beneficial practice as far as mental health goes. What I do have a problem with are all these assholes that act like anyone can always just drop into a state of meditation at will, no matter where they are or what their circumstances are. Over the years I’ve read many work-related self-help guides (all of which seem to be written for office workers for some reason), and this is always a suggestion when it comes to dealing with workplace stress. I’ve never worked in a place that allowed employees to just stop whatever they’re doing and go meditate, and I suspect the writers of these articles have never actually held a real job. I guess it’s easy to stop and meditate when you’re a “professional blogger” who works at home. Sadly, I work in the real world, where we have to settle disputes with our coworkers and bosses the old-fashioned way: By calling each other jerk-offs and making empty threats until the other person backs down. Then we go home, down a few beers, and rant to our friends about how we hate our jobs. As far as meditating at home goes, I live in the middle of Philadelphia, next to a fairly busy street. If my neighbors aren’t blasting Daddy Yankee at 1 in the morning, some retarded thug is driving around the neighborhood blasting shitty rap from some mushed-mouth mumble rapper with the bass dialed up to 100. And in the rare event that’s not going on, I’m forced to listen to the police helicopter circling the area looking for the latest asshole who just shot someone during a stick-up. The idea that someone already feeling stressed out in an urban environment could achieve meditation is fucking insane.

Exercise is another good one. I honestly should have mentioned this second instead of the caffeine/sugar/alcohol thing, but this isn’t a numbered list, so if you want a shitty half-assed list article go read Cracked or Buzzfeed. We’re constantly having the benefits of exercise being crammed down our fucking throats at every corner we turn. Most of these benefits are true, and unlike with fish oil, they aren’t negligible or unnoticeable. If you stick to an exercise regimen (and eat properly according to your regimen’s needs; this is the part most people aren’t doing when they say that they aren’t seeing gains at the gym or losing weight, but that’s another article for another time), you WILL see results. Unfortunately, this is being touted as a fail-proof catch-all cure-all for pretty much anything wrong, and that’s where the problem lies. I spent an entire year doing serious lifting. I also spent another entire year focusing on cardio. Physically, my body felt great. I could run 2.5 miles in 20 minutes, I was deadlifting 145 lbs (this did wonders for my lower back pain, as it strengthened the muscles), I hit similar weights on the squat rack and the bench press. But as far as my stress levels were concerned, the benefit was negligible. If anything, I was becoming slightly more stressed out, because now I had to factor a workout regimen into my already busy schedule. And on top of that, my diet and my drinking were restricted (alcohol inhibits muscle growth). After working 9 hours, 6 days a week on your feet, you really don’t want to come home and exert yourself for another hour, you want to kick back and relax. I have nothing against the people that can actually do this, it just isn’t for me. To sum this up, in the end exercise makes you feel better physically, but as far as mental health goes, it really doesn’t do shit.

So what does work as far as managing stress and other similar mental health problems?

It’s actually really simple. Find a fucking hobby. Do something that you enjoy doing, distract yourself with it. No matter what it is, as long as it takes your mind off the bullshit, that’s all that matters. Don’t waste your life worrying too much about what you’re eating or drinking, but don’t be a retard who constantly overindulges. If your job is getting to you that bad, it might be time to look into moving on. It’s not always easy to leave a shitty job though, so until you can leave focus on having fun when you’re not there.

There are a lot of shitty things in life that you can’t change. Change what you can, and distract yourself from the things you can’t. Know what I do after a long shitty day at work? I come home and play video games. Very few problems can hold up to mindlessly slaying bandits in Skyrim for a few hours, or ambling around in Minecraft hunting for diamonds and building up your pimp pad. If video games aren’t your thing, I recommend a dart board. In the rare instances I don’t want to play video games, I crank the music up, pour a drink, and throw some darts for an hour or two.

But whatever you do, don’t rely on some generic self-help article for a solution.