Sometimes, and hopefully more often than not, life can be effortless, harmonious and beautiful. But unfortunately, it’s not always smiles and charcuterie platters. And that’s okay. Life is never meant to be. We can never truly appreciate the good times without the bad. What that does mean is that we have to deal with the bad, be it a lost job/promotion, death of a loved one, or a monumental breakup (small breakups don’t count, get over it) when it rears it’s ugly, stupid, unshaven face. If you happen to be going through a rough time in your life, here are a few things that can help get you through.
Talk it out
I am a huge advocate of talking things through. So much so that I’ve caught myself talking with...myself on a number of tough occasions. Not in a D.I.D. way, but more of a “self-affirming” kind of way. It’s easy to get scattered and aimless with your thoughts when they’re free-floating around in your head. Talking them out gives you an opportunity to organize your feelings in a more linear way. And in the midst of a ramble, might come some clarity that you may not have considered before. Obviously, it would help tremendously if you were talking to someone you trusted, like a friend or family member. In particularly deep situations, seeing a therapist could definitely increase your chances of feeling better, as they are trained experts in these kinds of matters.
Make progress on goals
Many will read this to mean “fill your days up with distractions so you don’t think about it”. That’s not what this is. Instead, try to think of real goals that you wish to accomplish, of either a short or long term nature. It might be a personal goal, like smiling at at least one stranger today, or exercise at least 3 times this week (more on that below). Or it could be a work-related goal of selling at 10 products, or finishing up the presentation you’ve been working on. Focus on goals you can keep track of, and when possible, record your progress. You’ll be astonished how quickly you’ll forget whatever was getting you in the dumps.
Admittedly, I was a little late coming to this notion in my own life, but I have definitely felt the results on a first hand basis. Many studies have shown that regular exercise can have tremendous positive effects on mood and mental health. It doesn’t have to be Ahhnold-intense, but even the simple act of allotting a few days a week to general exercise allows you to bring a bit more structure to your routine, and thus, your mind. This can relate to the goals I mentioned earlier, by setting some workout related checkpoints, like adding extra bicep curls, or minutes on the elliptical.
When one suffers a borderline-traumatic experience, it’s a knee-jerk reaction for many of us to get recluse, and binge on junk food and alcohol. While that could provide some (very) fleeting relief, it’s more likely to get us into a deeper, longer rut. There has been a rising number of studies that suggest a correlation between eating high-calorie, processed foods and growing mental disorders. With that in mind, incorporate fresh fruits, and healthy snacks into your diet. Also, the act of prepping and cooking healthy meals will deter focus away from any issues you might be going though, and you would be rewarding your tastebuds in the process!
Get lots of rest
The stress of a bad situation will likely disrupt your sleeping habits. This seems a bit obvious, but a lack of proper sleep can be hugely detrimental to your state of mind, whatever the state you are currently in. It may seem impossible, but plan to sleep early, and plenty. The mind has the incredible ability to work through tough problems subconsciously during slumber, and often you wake up forgetting that there was anything wrong at all. If you have trouble getting that initial lay-down drift-off, meditation might be a helpful way to clear your thoughts to make room for rest.
Think positive thoughts
There’s a typical scene we can all imagine of someone standing if front of a mirror, staring themselves dead in the eye, and repeating words of affirmation like “You will get this job”, or “You can get over him/her”. As easy as it is to dismiss this as a weak story device in a bad movie, there is some wisdom to this idea. The power of positive thinking seems a bit hokey, silly, and useless, but I implore you to try it out. Telling yourself repeatedly that everything will be okay will start to trick your mind into believing it. After enough repetitions, be it circumstances, or just how you view things, things actually do start getting better. Nothing lasts forever, but the good news is, that includes the tough times. Any negative, stressful, or heartbreaking situation has a finite shelf-life, and though some may seem to last a lifetime, just remember, no matter how challenging it gets, it, and you, will be okay.