Tough times come to all of us. The nature of life includes random misfortunes and periods of deep stress and unease. While the solution to these life issues may be hard to find, there are methods to cope and float through them as they inevitably end (because they all end). Here is a collection of the tips I am currently using to deal with another phase of unease and stress, I hope some of them are relevant and meaningful for you too:
1 Use Good Moments To Help Your Bad
No matter how bad the glum you feel, there will be glimpses of light and energy. There will be a day in the middle of weeks of stress where you wake up feeling OK. Try and recognize these times and use them to help yourself out when you fall down again.
Today I woke up with energy and joy (what a surprise!), I used it to reorganize my room so that I could see my books – which reminds me of special words when I see them in my gloom. I set up a little sitting corner for my later moping moments, and organized my emails and papers so that they would not overwhelm me later.
So if you can plant some helpful seeds before or during your tough time, it will make it much easier! Here are some things you could do (or ask someone to help you with):
– Put up pictures or quotes that make you feel loved and happy where you will see them often
– Clean and organize anything that overwhelms you
– Book a counselling appointment or something that will relax you and help you grow and deal
– Let people know what you are going through
– Prepare meals for later, do the groceries, budgeting, paying bills etc
2 Spend Time On Your Hobbies
Hobbies are where your passion and skill overlap. Find something that you enjoy doing that you do well and spend your free time doing it. While it may seem like you need to be spending all of your time dealing with the current stress or dilemma, a hobby is especially helpful during times like this.
The creativity involved in hobbies will get your brain into a different mode, as well, the act of doing tasks for the sake of doing them will increase your feelings of mastery, skill and purpose. Hobbies help build confidence and remind us that we can do meaningful and useful things in this world.
3 Balance Your Advice Sources
Depending on your personality, you may draw nearer or further from people during your times of stress. Notice which you tend towards, and try to balance yourself out.
I find that I tell lots of people the issues that I am dealing with to try and get them to solve them for me. This may work, and I greatly appreciate the perspectives and patience of all the dear people in my life. But I also acknowledge that there is no way out of a stressful situation unless it is achieved and sustained within my own mind (as that is the source of stress), and that looking for too much outside advice can create confusion, noise and business.
If you completely retreat within, you may be missing out on something that you are unknowingly blind to. Try bringing your stresses to others and see what their thoughts are (being aware that the majority of it will be repeated, and may not be the solution). Either way, talking about what’s going on to other people helps you articulate what is stressing you out – articulation leads to awareness and awareness shrinks the beast.
4 Keep Your Health A Priority
This may be difficult. One of the first things that we do when we are going through bad times is let go of our physical health.
As I am dealing with my current stresses, I realize that I don’t necessarily taste food or have much of an appetite. I am using this to my advantage! Since I don’t have any sort of crazy cravings, I am filling my mouth full of vegetables and vitamins.
Exercising is easy for me because it feels so wonderful and always relieves my stress. But I can empathize with the difficulties towards exercise – when I did long distance running as my sole form of activity I dreaded every second. Jogging is mentally draining and always seems to produce those repetitive low-stress injuries (on my joints etc). So I gave that up and go to the gym for a short, intense workout. I sprint (for the childlike fun of it), and then I do 3 – 5 exercises total, one for each area of muscle. Then I spend a long enjoyable time in the sauna. What a joy it has become now!
5 Search Out Excitement
Bad times are often spent thinking of the past, and on all that went wrong or could have been different.
Every time you think of something you dread, try and meet it with something that you are also looking forward to! Shift your focus to the future, to goals and new experiences. Make short term plans for things that are fun, with people that you can’t wait to hangout with.
Actively plan for excitement, and keep those things that excite you close in mind.
6 Use The Right Social Media
Different social media accounts provide different emotional experiences. Find the one that is the most helpful for you and shift your internet time towards it. For me, instagram most often causes insecurity and jealousy. Facebook and twitter provide outrage, information, or numbness. Pinterest, I have realized is a great source of inspiration. Every time I am on it I want to sew something or build a birch branch bed frame. This is quite helpful for me to get out of glum or stuck moods, so whenever I reach for my phone to go on social media, I chose Pinterest to start. Find yours and make smart internet choices!
7 Change Your Environment
We are all receptive to outside cues. There may be something in your environment that is acting like a sliver in your mind. So shift some things around! Walk a different route to work, move around some furniture, try different toned lights or get some house plants.
Changes to your environment do not need to be drastic to significantly affect the way you are feeling.
8 Question Yourself
Doubting yourself destabilizes your core, but questioning yourself allows you to find the cement in the sand.
If you hear yourself saying you can’t do it, stop and ask if you can.
Can I get through this?
Will this ruin everything?
Is there something that I could be doing differently?
Am I trying my best?
Am I being too hard on myself?
The more questions you ask the more opportunities there are to hear what your mind has been saying. It can also be an incredibly useful time to recognize and change your beliefs about yourself and your situation. Here is a great 4 minute podcast about this kind of questioning.
I am with you in this, we will survive because we have proof from what we have already survived! May your coping get you through to the other side, soon enough it will be spring.