Life isn’t always easy. When times are challenging (when you’re healing from a betrayal, death of a loved one, financial hardship, etc.) it can be tough to see the bright side. Life is harder to enjoy and appreciate when everything feels like it’s going wrong. But you’ve weathered hard times before, and you can successfully do it again.
While nothing can make a hard situation easy, there are things you can do to make it easier.
Use these tips to overcome challenging times:
1. Focus on what you can control and pay less attention to what you can’t. There are some things you just can’t control. Other people’s actions, the weather, the stock market, and your height are a few examples. Fortunately, there are things you can control. It makes sense to put your attention here. Time spent worrying about things beyond your control is a waste of time and energy. Not only that, this type of stress ignites the stress response and sets the stage for symptoms, illness, conditions and disease. Your time is limited, so use it wisely.
2. Remember all the previous challenging times you’ve overcome.This isn’t the first challenge you’ve faced. You’ve overcome lots of things. Remind yourself of how capable and resilient you can be.Your current challenge will suddenly seem a little smaller.
3. Breathe. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, calm your nervous system by focusing on your breath. Feel the air moving in and out of your body. Spend a few minutes just breathing and notice how much better you feel. Your breath is always with you and focusing on it will bring your mind back to the present.
4. Take care of yourself. When times are hard, our natural tendency is to neglect ourselves. It’s easy to think that self-care isn’t important during hard times, but that’s not true. No matter what is going wrong, make an effort to continue taking good care of yourself. You still need healthy food, sufficient sleep, movement and support to be at your best.
5. Be willing to say, “No”. When times are tough, avoid taking on additional responsibilities. The best way to do this is to use the word “no” judiciously. When you say no to something that would bring you additional stress, you’re saying yes to more time to tend to what needs your attention.
6. Laugh. Laughter is magical. It feels good, it lightens your mood and it gives us hope when we’re facing hard times. What makes you laugh? It might be a funny movie, show or friend. Think about what makes you laugh and spend some time laughing each day.
7. Exercise. Exercise is good at burning up excess emotional energy. It’s also healthy for you. When you’re feeling stressed, a good workout can do wonders. Angry? Take it out on a punching bag. Stressed? The rhythmic movement of a long walk or yoga class can help. Choose the activity that feels like a good fit for your mood.
8. Practice gratitude. Hard times bring our focus to what’s not working. Gratitude encourages us to focus on what is working. What are you grateful for? Make a list of everything that’s good in your life. You’ll feel better and it’ll help put things into perspective.
9. Delegate and seek support. When we’re going through hard times, it’s worse when we struggle in silence and solitude. Ask for help to lighten your load and lean on loved ones for additional support during times you need it most.
Remember that your life hasn’t always been easy. Just as you were able to overcome challenges in the past, you can do it again.
Use your time and focus to turn things around. Rather than spending too much time focusing on the problem, focus on solutions along with the best ways to get through this challenging time. Also, remember that you’re not alone. Brighter days are ahead.
Dr. Debi Silber
Founder and CEO, The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute