15 Tips to Get Through Difficult Times
At some point in our lives, most people will go through a period of difficulty. Maybe a loved one dies, you get diagnosed with an illness, lose your job or home, or a relationship ends in divorce.
When sudden and unexpected change happens, most people will feel anxious and stressed as our natural tendency is to resist change because we naturally fear the unknown.
However, change can also be a tremendous opportunity for growth. It can be a time of re-evaluating your needs and priorities, what serves you and what no longer serves you, and most importantly, who you want to become.
To help you navigate and get through difficult times more easily, I have put together a list of 15 tips. Number 10 is my favorite!
When we are stressed, we usually breathe in a shallow fashion from the top of our lungs. It’s like constantly holding your breath, which causes stress itself. Taking deep, long breaths into your abdomen is helpful in inducing the relaxation response as it activates your parasympathetic nervous system.
Do this for at least 5 minutes (the longer the better). After a few minutes you will be more relaxed and you might start to feel tingling in your body, which is a good sign that you are bringing more oxygen into your body.
2. Move Your Body
When you move your body, you are helping the body burn off excessive cortisol that is running through your system and makes you anxious and stressed. Any type of movement will help, such as taking walks, doing yoga, or going to the gym. What I have found to be really beneficial is to dance to my favorite music.
You might have to lock your room to feel safe to just let your body move in a way that it wants to, knowing that you will not be disturbed or seen. It’s really freeing and fun to dance “like no one is watching,” and it will help you to quickly feel better.
3.Take it One Day at a Time
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you think about all the different things you must do in order to get your life back into balance, like searching for a new job, moving, starting a new life, or dealing with the death of a loved one.
In such times, it is best to just focus on what needs to be done today and not focus on all the tasks that lie ahead of you. You have the resources and the capacity to deal with what is happening right now, so keep focusing on the present and take it one day at a time.
4.Visualize a Better Future
If you are good with visualization and imagination, try this tip. First, make a list of all the good things, experiences and people that you want to bring into your future. Try to be as specific as possible and resist the urge of your mind trying to figure out the “how,” or telling you that it is not possible.
Once you have written down how your wonderful future could look like, take a few minutes and close your eyes. Try to see the future in as much detail as possible. Most importantly, try to get into the feeling of how you will feel like once this new future has materialized.
Since your body doesn’t know the difference between something you are solely imagining and what you are actually experiencing, your body will quickly respond by feeling calmer, centered, and even more hopeful. This exercise alone can make a big difference in feeling better quickly.
5.Ask Your Angels for Help
Many people I work with tell me they believe in having a guardian angel that protects them and guides them through life. Maybe you don’t necessarily believe in angels, but you believe in something higher than yourself like the Universe, God or even Nature.
If so, you can connect with what you believe in and ask for help. Often, we simply forget to ask for help, and doing so can help you to not feel so alone and feel supported no matter your circumstances.
6.Talk to Yourself
Whenever you feel stressed, chances are that your mind is running amok and will go into the worst possible scenarios for your future, to protect you from further hurt. That’s when “talking to yourself” in a soothing way can help you to calm down.
Of course, you don’t need to literally speak to yourself, but deliberately thinking and reminding yourself that you are safe, loved and protected will help your nervous system to relax.
7.Give Your Inner Child Love
In each of us lives a little child, that psychologists refer to as the “inner child.” It is the part of you that has not grown up and that can connect you to feelings like joy, playfulness, innocence, wonder and awe. However, it also holds unresolved feelings from childhood like past hurts, traumas, fears and angers. (1)
Basically, it is the often unconscious and repressed aspect of your psyche that gets activated and triggered when you find yourself in difficult and scary situations. If the present-day circumstances remind you (unconsciously) of what you have experienced as a child and which you have not yet healed, then your inner child becomes activated. You then experience fears and worry that defy logic but still feel very real to you. You might not be able to make logical sense of why you feel such intense emotions but nevertheless you do.
That’s when turning to the hidden aspects of yourself, your “inner child”, is extremely beneficial and helpful.
Here is how to do it:
When you are faced with a difficult situation and you experience upsetting emotions, you can ask yourself: How old am I in this moment when I feel these emotions? Take some time to answer this question.
You might want to close your eyes and simply feel into your body. Wait until you get an intuitive answer. You might see an image, or see yourself as a little child or simply know the correct answer.
Most of the time you will realize that you are actually acting and feeling from a wounded place that originated in childhood. When this is the case, you can give yourself the love, attention and care you have never experienced as a child and that triggers these upsetting feelings.
In order to do this, visualize yourself as a child. Imagine holding your “inner child” and comforting her as the adult you are right now. Try to feel emotions like love or care for yourself. To make this exercise even more powerful, you can visualize love flowing out of your (adult) self, into your inner child. Do this until your inner child feels safer, loved and protected.
Even though this healing technique might sound a bit strange at first, when you do it you will quickly notice a big shift, away from fear and worry to feeling more stable and grounded. This is an extremely powerful emotional healing technique because you are addressing the problem at the root cause.
8. Reach out to Your Friends
We often think we are strong enough to handle everything on our own. We don’t want to burden our friends with our problems as we might fear being judged, or that we are pushing people away by sharing our fears and worries with them.
However, most of the time, the opposite is true. By reaching out to your friends and asking for help, your friends might feel more connected to you since you are sharing with them openly and from your heart. When you are vulnerable, you are opening yourself up and are showing that you trust them. Doing so will help them feel more open towards you and since most people love to help, often times they will offer support.
Reaching out to someone else in times of great distress and change can not only make you feel more connected to others, it will also help you navigate difficult times much better. We humans are inherently social creatures and are not meant to handle everything on our own.
Of course, sometimes it will be necessary to also enlist professional help from a therapist. There is no shame in asking for help. It is actually a wise thing to do as you will be able to bounce back much quicker than trying to figure it out all on your own.
9. Distract Yourself
When everything gets too much and your mind thinks about your problems all day long, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and thinking that you can no longer cope. If this is the case, one of the best things you can do is to simply distract yourself. You can’t figure out everything today, so simply letting things be for a while will recharge your batteries.
It can be a healthy step to take a time-out and to do something good for yourself. Distract yourself with a funny movie, go see a friend, read a good book, or treat yourself to a massage.
Giving yourself a break from the drama will allow your body to calm down and help you sleep better so that you can tackle your problems with more energy the next day.
Thousands of studies have proven the benefits of meditation on your mind, nervous system and body. However, when you are in fear mode and your mind is racing, you might be wondering how you can still your mind and get quiet.
If you are really stressed out and overthinking things, I suggest you do a certain meditation where you not necessarily are trying to “not think.” Instead, you are using your imagination and your emotions to quickly bring your body back into a state of calm and rest.
Here is how it works:
First, bring your attention to your heart area.
Pretend like you are breathing in and out “through” the heart.
Do this for a few minutes.
Once you have established a connection with your heart, recall a time in your life when you felt happy, safe or joyful.
Try to get into the memory as much as you can while keeping focused on your heart area. Allow your body to remember the positive feelings and emotions.
Don’t push it but simply allow them to arise. I am writing “allow” intentionally here because you can’t force yourself to feel something, but you can make an invitation to your body to re-experience these wonderful emotions. When you do so, you can relax into the feelings. Don’t worry if you can only feel the emotion slightly. Over time and with some practice, you will be able to feel them stronger. While you focus on the positive emotion, always keep your attention on the heart area.
This meditation has been scientifically proven to induce the relaxation response as it harmonizes the electromagnetic energy field of your heart and brain. When both fields are in coherence, or harmonious, you will start to relax very quickly and you are also giving your immune system a boost. (2)
Once you are relaxed, things will start to look less threatening. Your mind will be clearer and you will be able to see your situation in a more positive light.
11. Remind Yourself of Everything that is Good in Your Life
When your life seems to fall apart, it is often hard to see all that is good in your life. However, it doesn’t matter how dark and hopeless your current situation looks, there are people and things in your life that are already good. When you lose sight of the bigger picture and you focus on what isn’t working for you, it can be very helpful to sit down and make a list of all the small things you appreciate in your life.
By focusing on what you can appreciate and what you are grateful for in life, you are shifting attention away from fear and worry to appreciation. Since energy flows where attention goes, your body will respond and your mind will feel more calm and clear.
When you write the list, don’t forget the little things that often can be overlooked like a friendly coworker who has recently done you a favor, the nice furniture you are surrounded by, or simply the good meal you had last night.
12. Hug a Tree
This might sound funny to you, but hugging a tree has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and can boost your immunity. The Japanese have coined the term “forest bathing” for stress relief and studies have been done on the benefits of simply being in the presence of trees. (3)
You can get even more benefits when you physically connect with a tree and give it a hug. When you do this, imagine all the worry, fear and anxiety leaving your body, going into the bark of the tree and down into the Earth where it is dispersed.
Doing so will help you quickly feel better as spending time in nature is an excellent way to recharge your batteries.
13. You Are Not Alone
There are millions of people in the world who have gone through similar challenges like you are facing right now and these people have made it through, and so will you.
Remembering that you are not alone on this journey and that this is just a difficult phase in your life might help you get a more positive outlook on life. Nothing ever stays the same and life is always changing. In this sense, remind yourself that this shall pass too!
14. See Your Challenge as an Opportunity for Growth
Growth often comes through difficult times because it forces us to change. What has worked in the past does not work for you anymore. This is often a time of re-evaluating who you have become, what you need in your life and to develop a deeper trust in the flow of life.
When you are in the midst of it, it is often hard to realize that you are growing and learning as you are in survival mode. However, once the dust settles and you have gone through this difficult time, you will realize how much you have grown and will marvel at the person you have become.
Remind yourself that change and challenging times are often a type of initiation, or rite of passage that one must go through in order to become the person you are meant to be.
15. Remember Who You Truly Are
No matter what your current situation, remind yourself that at the core of your Being you are already whole and complete, safe, loved and protected.
You are a soul on this planet having a human experience that is often intense and difficult, but what you truly are can never be wounded and hurt, as you are love itself.
How have you managed difficult times in your life?
Let me know in the comments below.