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When you’re at your lowest ebb, it’s always good to know you’re not alone. This is when the saying, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough gets going’ comes in handy as a reminder, that any life crisis is just a phase, and that phase will pass just like all the others. Whether you’re a millionaire celebrity or a single mother coping on a meager wage, life has a way of stirring up challenges. You may have said to yourself ‘I’ve paid my dues. It’s time to put my feet up and enjoy little pleasures of life.’ But, oh no to your annoyance, you discover money doesn’t buy love, while those expensive gold jewelries don’t make you happy, while you’re tired slugging it out with your mother- in- law who thinks her son could have chosen better, and there are times you just want to tell her to shove it. Relentlessly, other problems keep coming at you.
Researches show that no stage of life is any happier than another. College days had its joys and tears, marriage, parenting and career had their ups and downs, while life doesn’t really begin at forty with its myriad of issues. The good news is that you can turn round a setback if you remain positive. Being positive makes you stronger and helps you discover new and exciting life on the other side of crisis. To help you get out of the ‘tough time’, experts suggest 15 ways to encourage you to pick up the pieces, get you back on your feet, and come out shining.
1. Open up. It’s unhealthy to bottle up frustration. You got to talk to somebody. Moan and cry out to your best friend. Let him or her know this isn’t about trying to solve your problem but to open up and get some reassurance in return. You can talk for as long as your friend is willing to listen; an hour maybe about your anger, but maximum two hours. Thereafter sit down and together make up a list of ten blessings to be thankful for.
2. Remain healthy. For you to stay on top of a crisis, it’s important to take care of yourself and be in top shape healthwise. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or resort to comfort eating these will make you feel worse when crisis strikes. Try to nourish your body with a healthy diet and of course get off that couch to do some exercise. Studies have shown that regular exercise helps to reduce stress levels. Having said this, it’s also crucial to make time to relax and chill out once in a while.
3. One day at a time. Take it one day at a time. Set yourself achievable goals so you don’t overload yourself, which can be counterproductive and put you under more pressure.
4. Coping with Loss. If you’re going through the death of a loved one, give yourself time to come to terms with what has happened. It’s normal to be angry, sad and bitter about the loss, so give yourself time to go through this emotional phase. Once you feel a bit better, plan things that will help you move on, such as going out with friends, joining a leisure group, learning a new hobby, or getting more involved in community activities.
5. Manage depression. To be able to manage depression is to live with it as you would a headache. Simply put, learn how to deal with the blues by identifying what triggers your depression and handling it. For instance, if you get depressed due to an insulting remark about your looks, or any other negative comments, ignore and desist from allowing them take central place in your heart. Of course, being able to ignore what people think about you comes with maturity, wisdom, and balance. With time what usually makes you upset soon becomes a passing concern.
6. Deal with debt. If you’re in the habit of piling up debt, it’s time to deal with it. Understandably, times are hard and there are situations when you need a bit of loan to tide things over. And yes, loan once in a while is alright. But if debt becomes a problem, then deal with it. Being ashamed of debt is not the issue, but taking control, and asking for help when you think you’re being sucked in by a growing debt, is a better option. Identify the reasons for getting into debt in the first place to avoid getting into the same trap again.
7. Be rational about rejection. Rejection comes in different ways: could be job rejection, spouse rejection, peer rejection, or boyfriend rejection. Whichever way it happens, rejection is awful. It suggests something is wrong with you, since you’re judging the circumstances by the other person’s ideals, which sometimes are not apt. For instance, if you’re turned down at a job interview, the chances are that it wasn’t right for you, not that you didn’t perform well. The right approach is to think about what you are capable of and tell yourself that the right job for you is there for the takes. Or perhaps if your boyfriend ditched you for a prettier face, the chances are that you thought you knew him well, but you got it wrong. Again tell yourself you are better without him, at least thank God you found out the real him before you tied the knots, then you have to live with his instability for the rest of your life.
8. Resist self-pity. We don’t like our lives turned upside down, but when it does resist self-pity and asking why me? Empower yourself with the learning from that upheaval and how this is going to make you stronger, and use it as a positive turning point in your life. For instance, I had a traumatic experience twenty years ago when six armed men stormed my house, beat everybody up and threatened to shoot my four-year-old son as well as my junior brother right in my presence. For weeks after the ordeal, I was angry, bitter and sad. I was advised to change house, but decided to stay and vowed no amount of violent intimidation will force me out of my house. I had two similar attacks again within a year. I still stayed. Looking back, I’m amazed at my courage, resilience, patience, as well as my determination to get on with life, no matter how ugly.
9. Put the Past Behind You – When it comes to putting the past behind you and moving on, I am an advocate of ‘life has to go on’, no matter the odds militating against it. When there is life, there is hope. If you don’t put the past behind you, how can you move on to new things? I have learned to put the past, particularly the negative, sad bits, firmly behind me. Just like anybody else I have had my ups and downs, my joys and tragedies, but learning to survive is the ultimate.
10. Concentrate on beautiful things. Rather than focus on the bad things in your life, it’s helpful to identify five areas of your life going well and do more of them. So if your happiest moment is with your partner, arrange more time together. If you love your gym workout, don’t miss it. If you enjoy reading and meditating, treat yourself every day. If you are keen to write, why not join a writers club or go for a weekend writer’s retreat.
11. Know yourself more. If for instance a love relationship ends with so much bitterness, don’t be in a haste to start a new one just to kill the pain you’re going through. Instead do a check on the ‘person’ that you are and come out with a list that helps you assess your strength and weaknesses, as well as things you’ll like to explore. You can join clubs or interest groups and socialise with your friends and family. Once in a while, give yourself treats and take time to relax until you feel better about life.
12. Go out and socialise more. I am not advocating hitting all the parties in town. This is about getting together with your friends for a get-away or a chat. Research shows that having a network of friends can reduce the risk of serious health problems. So while you shouldn’t neglect old friendships, be on the lookout for new ones. Friends are a great way to keep laughter and energy in our lives. I mean the friends you can call up at four o’clock in the morning, and are also free to call you back same time are the ones that matter.
13. Cope without your children. You know how it feels when all the children go back to boarding schools or colleges. The house becomes empty and boring. No one to shout at, the heavy buzz 24/7 is no longer there. The truth is that when the children leave home, you can find yourself at a bit of a loss. You sure miss their presence. For the time they’re home, your life revolves around them, which of course gives you a lot of fulfillment and self-worth. So rather than move around sluggishly around the house, it’s the perfect time to take up something new and exciting. Find yourself a new purpose, whether it is starting a new small part time business or studying.
14. Identify issues in your relationship. Ex-marital affairs are symptoms of a relationship that has gone sour, not causes. When a relationship breaks down, for instance, perhaps due to constant harassment by your spouse in the house, it provides an avenue to search for external stress relief. Therefore, it’s better to identify what triggers the breakdown in the first place: be it sexual issues, money problems, office problems, children problems and deal with those.
15. Bouncing back after a major illness. One of our prayer points is a request for good health, amongst other requests from God. But once in a while, something happens and our body reacts in a way we don’t want it to. It can be a challenging time coping with a major illness, particularly when it’s one that requires an admission for several weeks in a hospital, running tests here and there. But then you recover and feel so fortunate and grateful to be a survivor of an illness that some patients don’t survive. You see it as a gift, but most importantly it is an experience that makes you see the world in a more appreciative way.
Photo Credits: Creative Commons.