Life gets tough for all of us at some point in our lives.
Coping with the pandemic, illness, relationships, work stressors, or the economy, life brings us challenges, disappointments, loss and a whole array of situations to cope with on a regular basis.
We have no choice but to keep adjusting to life as it is now as compared to how we’d prefer it to be. Here are 5 ways to cope with life when things get tough.
- Embrace your thoughts and feelings.
Chances are you’re having difficult feelings or thinking incessantly about the situation on how to resolve it. Take time to fully listen to yourself. What are you thinking and feeling? What hot buttons are getting pushed? What are you really upset about? You are the only person who can fully listen to you (unless of course, you hire a coach that’s been trained at the Life Purpose Institute!). Give yourself time to process and feel or think through the situation.
Here is an example: My favorite cousin and her husband came to visit. I took off a week from work to visit and see fun sites in San Diego. Whenever we went somewhere or did an activity though, my cousin only had energy to do something for a couple hours and then wanted to go back to her hotel as she was not feeling well. The person once vital, alive, and full of energy had become weak and fragile after her major surgery.
I had a lot of feelings that emerged. I was so sad that she didn’t feel well and had no energy. I was shocked that the person I once knew was permanently altered. The person I knew was not coming back. I was afraid for her that her life would be limited from this point forth. I also was upset for myself because I rarely take time off and had to wait around to see what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it and for how long. I was stressed out from it and felt my precious time off was getting eaten up.
What difficult feelings and thoughts are you having?
- Acknowledge feelings of grief, a loss of a person or loss of what we thought should be.
Grief comes up more often than most people think. Most people are familiar with grief from the loss of a loved one. A common form of grief is life not out-picturing the way we thought it would. Someone in relationship does not act the way we think they should act. Life is more difficult at times then we think it should be. Bad things happen that shouldn’t have happened.
Grieving and acknowledging what is and how life didn’t meet our hopes or expectations is a necessary step in coping with life’s challenges.
When we resist these feelings, they hurt us inside. We hold on and are angry at someone or something. Studies show that anger and disappointments we hold onto are very damaging to the physical body and put us in a stress mode that is more susceptible to illness and disease.
Grieving our loss of what we thought should be is important. We need to let go and let ourselves move on.
With the example of my cousin, I grieved her loss of health. I grieved she was not the person I once knew with the vitality she once had. I was grieving not having the fun with her I thought we would have. I was grieving that my vacation time was not the enjoyable time I thought I would have.
- Give yourself some joy.
When life gets tough you need to do something to bring you joy. Find three things that bring you joy and really focus on those. Give yourself more time to do those things. Is it spending time with certain loved ones, going on a walk somewhere beautiful, having a long bath or shower, having your favorite cup of coffee or tea? What brings you some enjoyment? Really savour those things.
- Be around fun people or watch some funny shows.
Laughter is really good for the soul and alters our physiology. Laughter allows us to get outside of our current situation and get back to it with a new perspective.
Finding fun things, funny people and amusing shows may take conscious effort but it’s well worth it.
- Let go and move on.
Now that you’ve acknowledged how you feel and think. grieved your loss and what should have been, let go, spend time doing some enjoyable things and laughing, when possible, move on.
Life is constantly changing. We are constantly having to adapt to new situations. What would moving on look like to you? What would taking great care of yourself right now look like? You can’t control people or situations outside of yourself, but you can control you and alter your reaction and behaviors. What would it look like for you to cope in a healthy manner? How can you care for yourself from this point forward?
In my instance with my cousin visiting. I did the steps for-mentioned. I moved on and still had a good vacation. I spent time with other loved ones. I went to the beach several times, got a massage, ate some great meals, and spent time with fun people I knew. It is possible to turn things around at any point and at any time.
How will you turn around things for yourself? It can start this very moment if you make that choice for yourself.