No life escapes them – struggles and challenges. Sometimes these situations can take us by surprise leaving us feeling powerless, frightened and defeated. However, there are concrete actions that you can take to not only survive – but thrive. Here’s how:
Take it day by day – moment by moment. While there are certainly real challenges that need to be tackled, life’s trials and tribulations can quickly turn into an untamed monster if our fears are allowed to take over. One powerful way to combat this is to practice Mindfulness – which is essentially placing our attentions on the now. Regrets live in the past and fears live in the future. By making a conscious effort to actively focus our attentions on the immediate task at hand, we disempower those negative influences on our psyches. Repeating an affirmation like “Right now, in this moment, I am fine” can not only decrease stress but also increase effectiveness in times of trouble.
Find your release valve. When we’re feeling life’s pressures, that negative energy has to go somewhere. Without knowledge of useful coping skills, many people fall prey to unhelpful tactics such as substance use, uncontrolled anger, and increased isolation. But there are healthier ways to bolster yourself in times of stress. Exercise (to exhaust nervous energy) distraction (to halt uncontrolled worry) and self-care (to increase your inner fortitude) can all serve as valuable sanity savers.
Keep forward momentum. Just. Keep. Moving. Goal setting is paramount in times of trouble to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Many problems can appear to be insurmountable at first glance but the key is to break your strategy down into realistic pieces. You may have heard the saying “How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time.” It’s true. A series of small baby steps equals huge leaps forward over time. What small first steps can you take to improve your situation? Taking empowered action will help you to feel a sense of control, which is something we all crave during hardships.
See the big picture. This can only take place after we’ve achieved some distance from previous problems, but it is truly a place of hidden treasure for those brave enough to revisit painful events after the storm has passed. For everything lost – innocence, blinders, naivety; Something is gained – clarity, strengths, compassion. Find the distanced vantage point to acknowledge the ways those challenges have changed you for the better. The gifts come in the form of new strengths and increased wisdom.
And there is one more priceless reward for overcoming hardships:
Resilience is defined as the “ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” (Merriam-Webster).
Isn’t that really what we’re all after? By using these strategies, we’ll be able to better handle whatever may come our way in the future. We will continue to grow and evolve into stronger individuals – despite the challenges that life throws at us. Yet, surprisingly, were are not often taught these valuable lessons for healthy living. American poet Maya Angelou once said “when you know better, you do better.” So now you know. What will you do with it?