For many years, my lunch has been eaten with my friends at work. We would gather in the breakroom, sometimes share food, laugh, make fun of the geese that gathered outside the windows and talk about manly subjects like how to repair motorcycles, cars, toilets, mowers, air conditioners and the list goes on and on. The conversation was interesting and since it was from the viewpoint of the men, I found it quite intriguing. Men really do think completely different than women.
During our conversations, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t teach them anything that they didn’t already know since all my friends have been married for a long time. Not only are they married, but they also have daughters, so estrogen is not a foreign subject.
Today, however, I didn’t eat lunch with the men because I am not employed with the company anymore due to the lay off. Instead, I ate my lunch alone while sitting by the fireplace at home. Bella yapped at the leaves blowing outside and Turtle basked in the glow of his sunshine lamp on the landing dock in his big tank.
Lunch today consisted of a big glass of water, turkey salad and potato chips. Yep, potato chips that are grain free. I was really happy to find them the other day while I was shopping at the grocery store. It is the first time I’ve had potato chips since being diagnosed with a grain allergy.
“It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?’… If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one’s time – the stuff of life.” ~ Carl Sandburg ~
While sitting alone, I thought about my life. Where have I been? What have I learned? Where am I headed? What am I hoping to accomplish during the coming year? Where do I want to be in five, ten and fifteen years? When and where will I find another job? Will I be able to make a salary that is commensurate with my skills and experience? The memories and questions were many while the answers were few.
Why are the answers always so hard to find? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know there are many things you can do to help get past the struggles of life like the one I am currently experiencing.
16 Things To Do When Life Gets Hard And Depressing
When life gets difficult, the first thing I want to do is crawl into a cave and hide. I think it is akin to putting my head under the covers when I was scared as a child. I just want the world to go away and the problem to disappear. Of course, that never happens. Just like you, I have to trudge through each experience no matter how much pain it causes.
There are quite a few things that you can do to minimize the pain, fear and negativity when times get hard and depressing. In no particular order, except for the first one, listed below are 16 things you can do to help yourself cope during the struggles of life.
- What’s the worst that can happen? – I always have to start each dilemma, hardship, struggle and unhappy experience with this question. Not only do I have to ask myself this question, but I must answer it fully. By answering it all the way to the very end, I always get to the same conclusion – death.
Since this is the most important thing I can do to get a handle on the situation and to wrap my mind around how to cope so that I can feel comforted, it is vital that I start the coping process with this step. Let me give you a hypothetical example. If the problem was that my car broke down and I didn’t have the money to fix it, the answer to “What’s the worst that can happen?” would go something like this:
If I didn’t have the money to fix the car, I would borrow the money. If I can’t find any way to borrow the money, I would have to wait until I saved the money and in the meantime get a ride with someone. If no one would give me a ride anywhere, I would run out of money and food. If I didn’t have money, I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills and I would be evicted. Or if I ran out of food and didn’t eat for long enough, I would die. If I was evicted and didn’t have anywhere to live and no way to get to a homeless shelter, I would die. If I die, I no longer would have to worry about fixing my car.
See my point? Obviously, one way or the other, the problem would be solved.
- Eat properly. – Staying physically healthy is vital and the easiest way to help your body is to eat nutritious meals and drink plenty of water. Also, a diet high in B vitamins will help reduce stress.
- Minimize caffeine intake. – Caffeine has a wonderful habit of revving the engines, but it will also make your body crash too low too fast. It is best to avoid caffeine or at least minimize it in order to keep the body on an even keel.
- Exercise. – Yeah, I just said that dirty word, but you know as well as I do that exercising will release endorphins and help you to focus better.
- Sleep and nap. – Sleep deprivation is not going to help you handle the pain, fear or depression that threatens you during life struggles. Make sure that you get plenty of rest even if you have to take numerous naps during the day. Sleeping revives the body, mind and soul.
- Laugh often. – Never under estimate the power of laughter. Seek out ways to lift your spirit through humor. Laughing is excellent for the mind and will lift your spirit.
- Slow down and think about each task/experience. – Live each moment fully with all senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch. You are only going to live this minute once, so don’t let it fly past you without soaking it all in now. While unhappiness is threatening to overwhelm you, slowing down and focusing on each sensory experience enables you to keep your fear, tension and stress in control.
- Spend time doing the things you enjoy. – Doing things you enjoy will help your mind to get off the thoughts of your unhappiness and struggles. This will also give your subconscious time to work on the problem too.
- Examine your situation to keep it in perspective. – Don’t blow the situation out of perspective. It is the difference between recognizing that you stubbed your toe and that you didn’t lose your leg.
- Don’t let doubt and fear control your thoughts. – If you let your mind take over, it will often dwell on doubt, fear and pain, so keep your thoughts in control. Counteract every negative thought with two positive thoughts. At first this may take quite a lot of thinking, but after practice, you will be able to whip your mind into shape.
- Listen to your self-talk. – Negativism begets negativism. Keep your self-talk positive and hopeful. Don’t let your mind fill your head with negative self-talk. Bombard your mind with positivism to counteract anything negative it may try to inflict upon you.
- Express gratitude and recognize the good in your life, past and present. – Write down the things you are grateful for and read the list often. Nurturing gratitude will improve your mental and physical well being.
- Recognize your good traits to build self-esteem. – Now is not the time to be shy. Speak to yourself boldly. List your good traits and feel proud of yourself. Pride when felt without arrogance is not a bad thing.
- Talk to friends. – Don’t be a loner. Friends will buoy your spirits and remind you of your self-worth.
- Seek out the help of a therapist/psychologist. – I totally believe in the power of good mental health professionals. These people go to school to learn how to help us, so let them!
- This too shall pass, so know that your suffering will end. – While you’re going through the hard and depressing struggles of life, it feels like you’ll never be happy again and that the pain won’t ever end. But it will end and you will feel happy again as long as you don’t give up now. Even if the worst happens, this struggle shall pass.
Are you surprised that I was able to list 16 things to do when life gets hard and depressing? I wouldn’t have been able to list that many if I hadn’t already experienced very hard and depressing bumps on my road of life. It has not been easy for me the last few years, however, I can hold my head up high and without shame. I’ve struggled, but I did the best that I could do. The best is all we can ever ask of anyone, so stop beating yourself up.