‘‘When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.’’
Whether you are an adult or a kid, experiencing difficult times is not something anyone looks forward to. It could be anything from a bad day at work, a fight with your friend, financial problems, going through a breakup, or just having an upside-down day.
Here is how you can regain your strength and smile during the toughest storms:
Prioritize self-care. Before you say ‘I don’t have time’, this will only take 30 seconds. Close your eyes, take notice of your entire body and fix your posture; make sure you are comfortable, and then, take small breaths and only focus on your inhales and exhales for as long as 30 seconds. Repeat as needed. Some of you might notice how shallow your breathing is and might want to take deep long breaths instead. You can also try one-moment meditation.
Do not entertain negative What ifs. When things are murky, our mind can jump into negative assumptions, making us feel worse. Cut that out immediately! Do not let assumptions take root in your mind and heart! Shut down those negative thoughts and kick them out; focus on something more positive. You might find it difficult to let go of a chain of thoughts or a heavy emotion you are experiencing. My invitation to you is to start with anything that feels lighter. You might want to focus on what is still going right in your world, or a memory that makes you happy. No matter what, do not entertain negative What ifs.
Lean on someone you trust for support. Share how you are feeling, let it out, and brainstorm ideas together. You will find at least one person who is willing to listen to you for at least 10 minutes. The mere fact that you are sharing your load with someone you trust is healing in itself. Try to open up to someone who lifts you up and does not make you feel worse. If you cannot think of someone that positive, design with a person you trust what you want from them during this time. You can ask them to offer their support by letting you do all the talking or saying something funny after your rant. Remember, we are not mindreaders; people can be more helpful to you if they know what you want!
Do what makes you feel good. Ask yourself, what feels good to me now? That could be a nap, a walk, or a warm drink. No matter what it is, give yourself permission to have what you want. This gives you a sense of control and you would also be practicing self-care.
Take time out from the ‘problem’. Sometimes, if you give yourself permission to not think about the situation, you can experience relief, get energized, and be creative. Some of us believe that we have to sit and think of our problems 24/7 because if we don’t either our problems won’t be solved or it would appear like we don’t care enough about the situation. FALSE! Taking your attention away from the problem is far more productive than sulking and dwelling on the issue. Take time off!! Do it!
Delegate. Delegate not just to people at the office or at home, but also to the Universe. Yes, whether you and I like it or not, sometimes the load is too heavy for us to carry and you got to have some faith and know that you are supported. Trust doesn’t come easy and we live in a world where we question everything. While that is essential, at times it is unnecessary, and we take it too far. Trust in anything—life, God, Universe, circumstances—whatever you want to call it. Keep repeating this to yourself even if you don’t believe it is true: “Things always work out for me. I am supported.” Also, give thanks as if the issue has been sorted for you. Here is a song to inspire you.
Unleash appreciation. Yes, appreciate the food on your plate, the roof over your head, the people in your life, and so on; but what if you appreciated the darkness as much as the light in your world? What if you chose to appreciate this tough situation and lean into appreciating what you are learning from this situation? What if you did not need to change anything about what happened, or rectify the situation, or change anything about the person that is bothering you? What if you accepted it and not resisted it? Just throwing that in there…
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”
Do something you love. Read Pollyanna, or any book that inspires you, watch funny movies, or listen to your favorite songs. I sometimes look up themed playlists such as happy playlists or songs about overcoming difficult times; I believe in the power of music.
“… there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
Eleanor H. Porter, Pollyanna
Write it out, if you love journaling. Write down how you are feeling and whatever comes to your mind. This was my tool for many years.
Help someone. Sometimes, the best remedy is to remove the focus from ourselves and be of service to people who could use our help. It could be listening to a friend or a family member that needs our support, smiling at a person in the elevator, being nice to the barista, assisting your colleague at work, buying someone a cup of coffee, giving a child in your life your FULL ATTENTION, and so on.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
Connect to any element of nature you can find. Our separation from nature is far more profound than we think. In the city where I live, nature is scarce, and hence, I find comfort in visiting a nearby garden shop or sitting by the beach, or even taking care of my home plant. Any element of nature is better than none!
“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.” Rainer Maria Rilke
Finally, if you reach a point where you can’t manage anymore, and things are getting worse, seek the help of a professional. Contrary to the belief, counseling, therapy, and coaching are not only for severe cases. You can seek help before reaching a meltdown. Having a professional is not only comforting but at times is also necessary.
Please know, even the darkest times come to an end!