Because debt, break-ups, redundancy, bullies and sickness don’t deserve to beat us.
We all have bad days. Sometimes those bad days breed and become bad weeks, months and even long, dark spells when it feels like life is handing out hurdle after curse after obstacle. It’s all too easy to let the weight of the world weigh heavy on our shoulders, drag our feet and feel everything is hopeless. I know, because I’ve been there. I’m not making light of feeling down in the slightest – it’s hard and it hurts. But when you feel out of control and life is blowing up all around you, it’s important to take a deep breath and remember that life isn’t always about glitter and giddiness.
There are plenty of challenges, but rather than letting them hold us under water until we drown, there are ways we can try to keep swimming. When life hands us lemons, we can teach ourselves to remain optimistic and cling firmly to the life raft of a can-do attitude…
1. Remain calm
When the whirlwind of emotion hits us in the stomach after bad news, our natural reaction is often to fly into a panic. No matter how much your mind is racing and your palms are sweating, force yourself to a take a few deep breaths and remain calm before reflecting and coming up with a plan. You’ll thank yourself later.
2. Know that this too shall pass
This is one the very best phrases to repeat over and over again to yourself in the face of adversity. Sometimes our emotions can feel so overwhelming that it feels like things will never get better. I’m here to tell you they will.
3. Go for a walk
When anything bad happens in my life, ‘I have to go for a walk’ are the first words to come out of my mouth. Studies have proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that being outdoors can help with mental health (yep, it even has a positive impact on depression!). A Glasgow University study showed that people who walked, ran or cycled had a lower risk of poor mental health. So visit your local park, walk around the block or take a beachside stroll.
4. Clear your schedule
There are times when you give your time to others, do favours for friends, sit on hold trying to get banking or personal chores sorted. Those times don’t have to be now. If you’re struggling to cope, cut yourself some slack and look after numero uno. After your walk, curl up in front of the TV, because sometimes doing nothing makes everything feel better.
5. Accept it
Psychological studies have shown that acceptance is crucial for us to be able to handle things. By accepting the bad elements in our lives, we make them less powerful and less stressful than we think they are. Even when (gulp!) we lose someone, we have to accept they are gone before the healing can begin.
6. Focus on the positives
Yes, it’s always annoying when people say ‘look for the positives’, but when you find yourself feeling really trampled on by life, it does actually help to grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down three things you’re grateful for. It will change your thought pattern and lift your spirits.
7. Believe Superman
Christopher Reeve once said: “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Choose hope.
8. Switch your mindset
Ah, the power of positive thinking. Getting your mind on the right track is essential before you begin to tackle whatever problem sits stubbornly in front of you – but first you must believe you can do it, so stop saying ‘I can’t’!
9. Confide in a friend
We all try to be Wonder Woman, flying around as though we are untouchable, invincible and can achieve anything. But sometimes you need to pick up the phone and tell a friend ‘I’m actually not okay’. You don’t have to post it on Facebook or send out an e-newsletter – just telling the right person will take a load off your shoulders.
10. Plant an orchard
I’ve only recently become a fan of inspirational quotes; I used to avoid them as though I were allergic to them. This quote from author Anthon St Maarten reminds us to turn something bad into something good: “When life gives you lemons, you don’t make lemonade. You use the seeds to plant a whole orchard – an entire franchise!”
At some of the darkest times in my life, I have only just mustered up the energy to switch on my laptop and watch my favourite stand-up comedians. It is hard to stay down when funny one-liners invade your ears, climb inside your brain and lift your spirits, even if it’s just for a little while.
12. Tell someone you love them
No, not a stranger in the street; send a message or pick up the phone to tell a friend you love them. Hearing them say they love you too is often the best medicine to combat feeling down, lonely or overwhelmed.
13. Make a list
I dread to think where my life would be without lists! Whether I’m busy or blue, I make a list of things I can do to tackle what lays ahead. Often when things aren’t going your way in life, making a short and achievable list of things you can do to move slowly forward will help you feel like you’re regaining control.
14. Keep on keeping on
We often get down and consider struggle a bad thing. It’s at this time that you need to try to remember the famous words of social reformer Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” If you’re struggling, you are challenging yourself, and that comes right before you move forward.
Images via giphy.com and tumblr.com.
Comment: What life advice do you live by?