4 Steps to Maintain your Sanity when Life is Hard
Updated: Sep 5
We are living in the craziest of times. It seems that the world we once knew has been turned on its head and nothing makes sense. Our lives are in turmoil and many of us are experiencing unparalleled hardships. Some have friends and family members who are getting sick and dying and many people have financial hardships that seemingly came out of nowhere. Illness has become political and politics have cruelly turned neighbors into adversaries. More than ever, being connected causes so much disconnect.
In order to keep our sanity and blood pressure in check, it is critical that we take care of ourselves. The younger generation is bewildered and looks to us to shine a light through the confusion and set an example. But if we don’t take care of ourselves, if our own light is dim, how will we be a beacon for them? If we are stressed out, they will be stressed out as well. If we don’t take care of ourselves, mentally, physically and spiritually, we risk compromising our immunity.
In that light, here are four suggestions to take of yourself when times are hard:
1. Nurture yourself
Pretend you have a friend or loved one that is really struggling and to help them feel better, you plan an indulgent evening to spoil them and take their mind off their troubles. It doesn’t have to be expensive but it must be things that you know will make them feel really good: maybe food they like, a bubble bath, the beach, funny movies, soothing music, yoga, or a massage. What would you do to create the perfect evening?
Now go and do it for yourself.
When we are up to our neck in troubles, it is OK to make ourselves feel good. If we are sad about something, it is OK to stop being sad and feel good. The best way out of the dark is to shine a light. The best way out of feeling bad is by feeling good.
2. Reach out
Find someone to talk to that will listen and understand. We are all in this together and need each other to lean on, to share with and feel that we are not alone. It is OK to admit you are not OK. It is OK to ask for help. It is OK to accept help. Put your pride aside, realize you are human and every human goes through good times and bad times and everything in between. We all need help sometimes from a friend, a family member, a partner, a therapist, a religious figure, a co-worker, a helpline. You don’t have to go it alone.
3. Shift your focus
Stop focusing on what is wrong all the time. Make a list of everything in your life that is good and when you are feeling down, read your list. Start finding things throughout your day that make you happy and hone in on them. Add them to your list. Usually it is the small things that we totally forget about and miss like a cool breeze on a hot day ( or air conditioning), a hug, fresh clean sheets, the smell of a flower or something delicious in the oven, going to your happy place, being in nature, a song you love, your pets – you get the picture.
4. Try to find out what life is trying to teach you
Life is about learning and growing and the really hard times are the very best teachers. Adversity makes us strong and resilient and teaches us things that the cushy times never will. Life has a funny way of testing us again and again until we learn what we need to learn to pass the test. To move on (graduate), we first need to figure out what the lesson is. Why am I in this predicament and what is life trying to teach me? This is much easier if we see ourselves as badass warriors rather than victims of our circumstances.
Sometimes we will never know why life is throwing us curve balls and as much as we search, the reasons elude us. Sometimes God’s plan is unavailable to the mortal man (Thanks Paul Simon). Nevertheless, as opposed to a complacent attitude about our life and our situation, we can take responsibility and take our power back. Through the process of careful and compassionate examination of our lives, we learn, we grow and we improve.