“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the cycle of life, there will be good times and tough times. There will be tough times in between good times and good times in between tough times.
There will be times that you can feel a little overwhelmed and have no idea how to weather the storm.
But tough times happen to everyone. It is an inevitable part of life that you can not just will it away.
All you can do is find some ways to cope with it until it passes. Here are 13 strategies to help you navigate through tough times.
Sometimes things don’t go your way. Especially during tough times. And you can easily get sucked into worrying about things that you have absolutely no control over.
When you focus on things outside your control, your life will be mired by disappointment, fear and anxiety. Start by letting go of that which you cannot control. It might be helpful to make a list of what these things might be.
Then focus on what you can control – your attitude, your actions and your thoughts. When it comes to thoughts and feelings, this could be something tricky and as straightforward as it seems. Have you ever tried to block out unwanted thoughts and feelings but find your efforts futile?
Having ever felt disappointment when you fail to change things you have no control over? Well, the sooner you accept the fact that some things are beyond your power to change, the happier your life will be.
Here are some things you cannot change:
Unless you have a time machine and travel back in time like Marty Mcfly in Back To The Future, you can’t change the past. Just cherish the good memories of the past. And move on.
Your friends, spouse, partner, co-worker, parents or boss – you have got to accept them as who they are. If you try to make somebody change, you will be grossly disappointed.
Because you can’t. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. Focus on things you can change and accept what you can’t change.
Yes, it is easier said than done, especially if your mind is so preoccupied with handling the crisis in your life. Well, whether at work or play, you still need to take a break.
The same goes for life challenges – you need to take a break from them.
So, when you take a break from everything, just sit or lie down calmly and just breathe in for 5 counts. And all you need to do is just focus on your breathing and you will be surprised at how easy it is to feel calm and relaxed.
When you are focusing on your breathing, just imagine that with every breath, your problems get smaller and smaller…
You can also imagine that you are in a very relaxing place like a beach, on a mountain top where you can see a myriad of scenery or at a beautiful park.
Every day, just take a few moments to break away from everything and allow yourself to breath, relax and feel calm.
Happiness comes from within you. In your moments of relaxation, allow that feeling of happiness to emerge and you will be assured that your life will become more positive and empowering.
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
So how much do you know yourself? When the going gets tough, it might be a good idea to reflectively look inward and examine your own thoughts and feelings.
It is so easy to look outward and lament about how challenging things are at present.
Instead, why not tap into the power of introspection? You may attain better balance in your life, release tension, and reduce stress by connecting with your inner self.
Find some time alone free from distractions (and your electronic gadgets) where you can focus internally.
You will find this process not only brings about a sense of calm and serenity, it will also give you more strength and confidence to face the challenges ahead.
When tough times come along and you are barely making it through the day, probably the last thing on your mind is improving yourself. Yet, this is a good time to focus your energy on personal growth.
As the saying goes:
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Tough times won’t last. If you have invested time in self-improvement, you will emerge a better person when the challenging period ends. Take this opportunity to keep reinventing yourself so that you can adapt to changing circumstances.
Your attempts at personal development do not have to be a drastic one. You can adopt the Kaizen approach. This is the Japanese method of taking little incremental steps every day to establish small-scale improvements.
Instead of aiming for far-reaching changes overnight, go for modest improvements. Initially, the changes seem inconsequential but do have some patience.
Because over a period of time, you will experience overpowering positive improvement. A steady increment of 1%, when compounded daily, will double every 72 days.
When you aim for a steady 1% improvement every day, you will be twice as good in 72 days’ time!
Everyone has baggage. Many people find it difficult to let it go. That is why they go through life dragging along with them their anger, anxiety and depression.
Someone who is burdened by emotional baggage may find it difficult to form meaningful relationships, advance in their careers, and make healthy lifestyle adjustments.
As you progress through life, you pick up unresolved emotional issues which become an emotional baggage. When you are faced with challenging situations and tough times, your baggage tends to rear its ugly head.
If you intend not to let your past baggage affect your future, perhaps this is a good time to leave it behind.
In trying times, when life seems bleak, it is very easy to lose yourself and spiral down a rabbit hole. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of your difficult situation, consider what you may be grateful for.
By expressing thanks for all that is wonderful in your life, it will help you feel more pleasant emotions, enjoy improved health, and deal with hardship.
One good way of adopting an attitude of gratitude is to write down everything you are grateful for. You may even start a gratitude journal and the first thing in the morning, give gratitude to anything you see that gives you a pleasant feeling.
It could even be gratitude for the morning sun, birds singing in unison or the sight of leaves fluttering in the wind.
I got to admit the fact that this is inspired by the Art Garfunkel song of the same name. Just meditate on the lyrics:
Always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the bright side of life
Some things in life are bad, they can really make you mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle
This will help things turn out for the best.
Always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the right side of life
If life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten.
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you’re feeling in the dumps, don’t be silly, chumps.
Just purse your lips and whistle, that’s the thing
Life can be tough on you sometimes and it is not perfect. But life is an extraordinary gift and should be appreciated. There is a bright side to it, if you look hard enough.
Learn to focus your attention on your moment by moment experience. Many of us focus on what has happened, which could lead to feelings of regret or remorse. Some focus on what will happen in the future, which could bring up feelings of uncertainties or fear.
Instead, direct your attention to the present like a child who is always immersed in the moment with awe, curiosity and wonder. Whether you are having good moments or bad, stay present. Whatever emotions you are experiencing at the moment, stay with them and feel them.
For example, if you have just lost a loved one to a fatal disease, instead of dwelling on the whys and what-ifs, just allow yourself to experience the feelings of grief with a mindful awareness.
You will find that by being present with whatever you are feeling, the bad sensations will quickly lose their hold on you.
Most people are in a state of constant craving – bigger houses, higher income, more cars, etc. When these cravings are not unfulfilled, it leads to feelings of dissatisfaction, bitterness and stress.
When you overlook what you already have and what you are blessed with, it is very easy to get lost in the negativity of what you lack in your life.
When you learn to appreciate what you have, you can feel its effects almost immediately. Appreciation triggers positive feelings because it is acknowledging and giving worth to what you have.
Your appreciation will give you an overall feeling that you are more in control of your life, elevates your self-esteem and helps you cope better during tough times.
I resonate with Oprah Winfrey when she said “Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. “
So, in tough times, appreciate your haves rather than focus on your have-nots.
What brings you joy? One of the best ways to survive tough times is by immersing yourself in something that makes you happy.
If you have done something that makes you happy in a while, now is a good time to reconnect with that part of your life.
A good way to get started is by making a list with a pen and paper. Write down everything you can think of that brings you joy. It could be something as simple as taking walks in the park or listening to your favorite music.
I can tell you with certainty that this small change in your routine can create a big shift in your life.
When times get tough, your ability to pull away from the chaos and engage yourself in a meaningful pursuit that brings you joy will do wonders for your life.
When life gets tough, it is easy to be overwhelmed by fear. As the Japanese saying goes:
“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.”
If you allow fear to creep into your mind, it might consume you.
Start by recognizing that fear is a mental emotion that is triggered by real or imagined threats. If the threat is real, then fear exists to protect you from harm. For example, you are afraid to go near the swamp because crocodiles will attack you.
Then, there are perceived fears when you imagine that your boss will chop you to pieces because you asked for a raise. Fear can stop you dead in your tracks and prevent you from achieving what you want in life.
Most fears within us work to sabotage our efforts for a fulfilling and successful life.
The only way for you to diminish fear is by acknowledging your fears and confronting them directly.
Exercise increases your endorphin level and naturally lifts your mood. Besides its health benefits of improving overall physical health, exercise also gives you a sense of well-being and accomplishment.
Exercise helps to relieve stress, tension and anxiety through the release of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ neurochemical. When starting out, pick an exercise you enjoy.
For your routine to stick and become habitual, avoid exercises that you would easily get bored with or routines that feel like a chore after a while.
You can go for a mix of activities to keep you motivated. Solitary exercises like walking, swimming or cycling can be blended in with group sports like beach volleyball, basketball or group hikes.
In closing, just be assured to know that tough times are just a bad cycle that will never last. But your resilience and toughness will.
Just mix and match these 13 proven ways to help you navigate through this tough period in your life.