10 Things To Help You Get Through Difficult Times

Life is not always easy. It was never meant to be. Challenges stimulate growth and increase resilience.  But sometimes our lives can feel like one struggle after another with no breaks in between or no end in sight. These times challenge our resilience rather than building it, deplete our resources, and can even leave us feeling hopeless. During these difficult times, it’s important to be pro-active and purposeful in how you manage your mindset.
These tips can help your brain and body move through difficulty – pick a few or do all 10 – but realize you might not “feel” like doing any of them. Do it anyway.
1. Focus.
Focus on the end point – if there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, create one. Get your brain out of the mire that it’s stuck in with the present. Daydream about the end, what it will look like, how you will feel, how you will celebrate making it through. Imagine how you want to be an overcomer in this situation. Don’t get stuck in the moment.
2.  Distraction.
Shake up your routine. Give your brain other things to focus on – take a new route to work, pick up a new hobby, volunteer somewhere, begin a new workout program, nutrition focus, or self care routine. Look at how to incorporate positive things that are novel into your life during this time.
3. Novelty.
Learn something new. The brain loves to learn new things from a beginner – it creates neurogenesis in the brain to create new neural connections. Where depression shrinks the hippocampus in the brain, learning something new sparks growth. A new language, a new skill, – art, dance, cooking, the stock market – whatever it is – pick something you know next to nothing about and start learning about it. Particularly in a class or group setting but even on your own.
4. Connection.
Don’t allow yourself to isolate. You might want to become a hermit, hiding until the storm is over. This won’t help you necessarily navigate the storm. Lack of connection can increase the risk of depression and hopelessness. Force yourself to make coffee dates, go to a yoga class, or initiate other activities that get you out and connected with others especially when you don’t want to.
5. Exercise.
Increase your activity. If you don’t exercise regularly, start now. If you do exercise, do it more. Start a new program or challenge or increase what you’re already doing. Especially when you don’t feel like it. The benefits of exercise for stress management, sleep, optimism, immunity, and mood stability are well researched and irrefutable at this point – all the areas that will be compromised by stress can be mitigated in part by daily activity.
6. Rest.
Radical self care, additional rest. Nurture yourself as you would a child. Go to bed an hour earlier after establishing a bedtime routine. Put your feet up with a cup of Holy Basil or Chamomile tea instead of scrubbing the toilet. Take brain breaks, move around at least once an hour, check in with your body to see where you’re holding tension or your breath and where you feel relaxed. Have a nap!
7. Nature.
Get outside. Go hike, go sit by a stream, do mindful walking in the woods, stop and look at beautiful things in nature. Research confirms the health benefits of being in nature, breathing fresh air, optimizing vitamin D levels through sunshine. Just do it.
8. Allowing.
Acknowledge your emotions – all of them. Allow them to show up, give ’em a name, and let them move through. Don’t stifle, don’t brace up and push through – you’re doing that anyway, allow whatever emotions – sadness, fear, anger, shock, bitterness, etc. to appear without shame and let them go. When positive affect shows up like determination, hope, anticipation – let those linger longer.
9. Resilience.
Look at your history of victories. Look at the things in the bank of your experience where you’ve made it through tough times before. What helped you through? Take stock of your own qualities that have helped you make it through difficulty in the past. Allow it to infuse you with confidence – you can do this – you’ve done it before. Resilience is experiencing both the highs and lows of life and being able to maneuver through and come back to a baseline of calm, centered, groundedness – notice when you experience these states – when are you relaxed? Spend time there.
10. Help.
Ask for help where you need it. There’s no trophy for getting through difficulty alone and unsupported. Think about what it is you really need at any given moment – particularly when in despair. People that love you want to know how to help you and love to do it. Don’t let shame, fear, or pride get in the way of acts of humanity that can deepen your relationships and help you through this time.If you begin to notice that you are steeping longer in depressive or anxious states longer than is healthy – if you’re not able to come back to baseline and feel calm, or happy and optimistic anymore… if you’re noticing somatic symptoms of headaches, migraines, insomnia, chronic pain, digestive issues, etc., reach out to a professional for some weekly counselling appointments to help regulate your nervous system and give you some additional support during this time.
You will get through this. Remind yourself of this. Know you will be stronger when you come out the other end of this difficult time and it’ll be one more victory to bank in your history.

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