Life isn’t easy. No matter how privileged we are and how much luck we’re blessed with, we’re always going to come up against situations that challenge us sooner or later.
That’s just the way it is.
We’re all going to experience heartache, grief, frustration, and despair, to greater and lesser degrees, at some stage in our lives.
When you’re in a tough spot, sometimes a good old-fashioned inspirational quote really can make you feel better. However, sometimes anything airy-fairy can just be incredibly annoying.
Sometimes, what you really need are some tips for overcoming adversity that are entirely practical. Tips that you can put into practice and, however gradually, notice a change.
If you’re reading this, chances are things aren’t going too smoothly for you at the moment. Or, perhaps you know only too well what it’s like to be down on your luck or to receive some bad news, and you want to be better prepared for the next time life takes an unexpected downward turn.
Whatever your current situation, these tips will stand you in good stead for dealing with the tough times.
They aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution, as we each have different ways of responding to situations and getting through hard times. But just one of these might be the key to protecting your mental and physical well-being whilst facing life’s many challenges.
1. Give Yourself Time To Process Events
If you’ve been hit hard by bad news, don’t expect to bounce back immediately. Don’t suppress your feelings, but, instead, take some time out and try to face them head-on. If you can, and you feel you need to, don’t hesitate to take some time off from work or studying.
2. Reach Out For The Support You Need
Whether it’s close friends or family that you reach out to, or you turn to professional help, make sure you do reach out to someone. No human is an island and we shouldn’t try to get through tough times on our own. It’s easy to see asking for help as a sign of weakness, but it actually requires huge amounts of strength.
3. Try Not To Dwell
As I’ve said above, it’s very important to speak to trusted friends or close family members in times of adversity. Getting things off your chest can help you to process how you feel, as we often experience moments of clarity when we verbalize our thoughts.
Throw yourself into those discussions when the time is right and you’re speaking to someone who cares about you, but do your best to make sure it doesn’t become your sole topic of conversation.
Ask people about their lives, too, and you’ll find it a wonderful distraction.
If you find your thoughts continually drifting back to the situation you’re facing, make sure you’ve got plenty of other things to think about. Podcasts are a great way to keep your brain busy.
4. Identify Any Lessons Learned
I know that the old adage about clouds and silver linings is a bit overused, but that’s because it’s true.
Much as it can be incredibly frustrating to be told to look for the positives when you’re going through a rough patch, there is something to be learned in the vast majority of situations.
It’s during the tough times that we become stronger and generally become better people. Try to identify the precise skill or life lesson that this experience has taught you and think about how you could use your new found knowledge the next time the waters get a little choppy.
5. Make A List
This is a wonderful exercise to do when you’re feeling down. Try writing out a pros list. I’m sure your cons one could go on forever, but that’s not what we’re focusing on here.
Write a list of all the things that are going well in your life. Seeing these written down on paper will hopefully remind you just how lucky you are in so many ways.
Focus on the details, like the precise reasons why you’re grateful to have a particular person in your life, or what you love about your job, or the beauty you see around you.
Let all the positives come flowing out of you. If you really want to capitalize on this, write a note to someone you value telling them all the reasons why they’re wonderful.
When we’re feeling low, it can be incredibly tempting to just curl up into a ball and do precisely nothing. Try to avoid that trap.
Whilst you should definitely prioritize resting and eating well, you should keep yourself at a nice level of busyness, with plans a couple of nights a week, teamed with enough downtime.
Have a look at the list you made above. Make plans to see some of the people you’re grateful to have in your life and do some of the activities you love.
You don’t have to break the bank if you’re struggling financially, but think of ways to have fun for free, or nearly free.
Even if your main problem is that you’re actually incredibly busy and stressed, consciously taking the time to do things you enjoy in a leisurely manner could be what breathes life back into you.
7. Declutter And Organize
You know that phrase ‘tidy home, tidy mind’? We often don’t realize just how big of an impact our surroundings can have on our state of mind.
When you’re feeling low, finally tackling your overflowing wardrobe and getting rid of all the clothes you don’t wear can make you feel like you can take on anything.
When life gets busy, cleaning is often one of the first things to fall by the wayside, and a grubby home is never conducive to a calm mind.
If you can possibly afford one, a cleaner is worth every penny. It’s one very big thing that you don’t have to worry about and it hopefully means that you’re supporting a local business, so you can feel good about yourself, free up huge amounts of time, and enjoy a more restful home environment.
8. Set Daily Goals
This is a wonderful way to gain a sense of achievement every single day. I don’t know about you, but my to-do lists used to be made up of very big, abstract goals that I almost never had the satisfaction of actually ticking off.
Breaking everything down into smaller goals and putting everyday tasks such as doing the dishes on your list means you really feel like you’re getting somewhere.
Try to set one thing to accomplish for your professional development, one thing for others, one practical thing, and one thing that nourishes your soul every day.
That might take the shape of finally sending that email, meeting a friend who’s going through a tough time too, doing the laundry, and reading a chapter of a book.
If those four things don’t sound quite right for you, adapt them to your specific needs. If you can tick off four things every day, then, whatever you’re going through, life will seem to have more direction and purpose.
9. Take One Day At A Time
The beauty of setting daily goals is that it focuses your mind on today and today only. When you’re going through a tough time, you really should try to just take one day at a time.
By breaking your time down into manageable segments, you’ll feel more capable of getting through each one. You won’t feel so swamped and overwhelmed by everything life has thrown at you and your resilience in the face of challenging circumstances will grow.
I’m sure this tip is nothing new to you, but people say it so much because it’s so incredibly important.
Exercise is important at the best of times, and even more so when you’re going through any kind of challenging time in your life.
Whether you simply walk, do some basic yoga, go for a morning run, take an exercise class or hit the gym, nothing seems quite as bad when your heart is pumping and your dopamine and serotonin flowing.
Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.