Often when people are going through a difficult time, they feel out of control of their situation and within a short period of time, out of control of their entire life.
They aren’t eating well. They aren’t sleeping well. They’re just feeling horrible.
So how do you stay in control when things seem out of control?
Control what you can.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned, whether it was when I was going through an illness, fighting to keep a roof over my head or even when I heard the dreaded “You have a brain tumor,” it is that you may not always be able to control what is happening around you, but you can ALWAYS control you.
And controlling you means going back to basics. It means strengthening your foundation, so you can better deal with whatever challenge you are facing.
So although the following eight tips may seem simple, they can go a long way in helping you maintain control when everything feels out of control.
1. Start your day empowered
When going through a difficult time, it is easy to forget how strong we are. That’s why you need to start each day in the right frame of mind. Before starting each day, remind yourself that you are strong enough to deal with whatever challenges life brings you that day.
2. Protect your mental space
Protect your mental space like Fort Knox! No newspapers. No evening news. No dramatic movies. No friends calling you telling you about all that is wrong in their lives. Those things will only make you feel more anxious, sad and pessimistic about life.
3. Be willing to accept help
We all like to think of ourselves as independent, but when you are going through a difficult time, you have to be willing to let people help you whenever possible. This is not the time to prove how strong you are. If someone offers to lessen your burden during a challenging time, graciously accept.
4. Watch what you eat
When you are going through a stressful time, it is normal to want to eat comfort food (cookies, cake and refined sugar). But sugar and “comfort” foods feed stress, allowing stress to have a greater negative impact on your body. So it is important when gong through a difficult time to be conscious of your food choices. Don’t look at comfort food and say, “I deserve this because I’m going through a difficult time.” Instead say, “I am going through a difficult time and I don’t want to do anything that will make it worse. So I’m not going to eat anything unhealthy.”
The last thing you probably want to do when going through a difficult time is exercise, but just like food, exercise has a significant impact on your body’s ability to endure a challenging time. For when you exercise, your body releases endorphins (aka the body’s natural “happy” medicine); as a result, exercise helps you both physically and mentally. And it doesn’t have to be anything extreme. Walking just 20 minutes a day can have a significant impact.
Your body needs time to recover from the stress of the day, so proper rest is important. But this isn’t about sleeping all day (that actually has the opposite affect. So no matter how horrible you feel, ALWAYS get out of bed). This is about getting proper rest at night, instead of staying up worrying. Do what you can about your situation during the day. But at night, let it go, give it to God (or whatever Higher Power you believe in) and go to bed!
7. Do something kind for someone else
Every day while you are going through this challenging time, try to do something kind for someone else. Yes, you still have your problem, but trust me, doing something kind for someone else will make you feel better. It might be something as simple as dropping a card in the mail to a friend or sending someone an uplifting text.
8. Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself and remember you are doing the best that you can!
Of course, doing these things isn’t going to make your problem go away. But, I promise, they will definitely reduce the negative impact a difficult time has on your body, your mind, and your spirit.