I’m sure I’m not the only one this happens to.
There’s no two ways about it: sometimes life sucks.
Your relationship’s dragging its heels, your new boss is a piece of work, you haven’t had a pay rise in what feels like forever, and your best friend is pestering you to go away on a girly weekend but you haven’t got the time, money or headspace. You look in the mirror and are sure you’ve put on weight, only to pull your fave pair of jeans out of your wardrobe and yank them on to confirm your worst fears.
Typically these are the days when your wi-fi goes down and you check your mailbox only to find bills, and end up wishing you hadn’t looked in the first place. It’s raining, your hair frizzes up into a huge ball, you miss your train and your heel breaks.
Sometimes absolutely everything turns to crap. What do you do? How do you stop from flinging yourself off the side of a cliff?
I used to make a beeline for a glass of wine and rely on my trusty friend Sir Pinot Grigio to block it all out. But after years of practise, I can confirm this only makes things worse. So I ditched the booze and decided to untangle life’s messes all on my own. The wonderfully reassuring thing about this is that without booze, you can’t make anything worse than it already is. You’re not going to say something you regret, call someone you’ll wish you hadn’t or spend loads of money in a pity spree that leaves you with a financial hangover to nurse alongside your physical one. Whatever has happened, it’s finished; you can now press pause and it will not escalate. In itself – before you think, do or say anything else – simply knowing this is calming.
Lists, fresh air and a plan to move forward are the magic trusty trio I rely on to cope. When my head is spinning so fast I’m convinced it will actually detach itself from my body, I grab a piece of paper and list everything that’s wrong. Then I go for a walk to mull and indulgently stew.
I allow myself to debate it all and go ’round in circles until I’ve bored myself. After a while, even imagining worst-case scenarios becomes boring. When I get home, I analyze the facts, having successfully exhausted the worrying, anxious, emotional side of me, and am then able to step up to the plate like a grown-up and examine the black and white of the situation. I have successfully taken control of the storm.
Walking outside is always better for me than going to the gym and furiously pounding away on a treadmill. I’ve been through gym phases and intense body blitzes, but they’re not my magic answer. Fresh air, deep breaths and remembering to look up is the very best medicine, and as an added bonus, it doesn’t involve shelling out for a membership or a prescription.
It’s surprising how quickly a storm can pass after you press pause and don’t allow it to get any worse. It’s also impressively reassuring how quickly you can take control of the reigns again and start steering your ship back on course when you’re calm and focused. It’s like being your own parent.
When everything turns to crap, I always try to remember that it always, always makes me stronger for having gone through it, and next time the storm might not even seem so bad. Relationships and friendships either fix themselves or you move on. Bad bosses teach us lessons, and being skinny isn’t the answer to happiness. So, upon reflection and counting my life’s blessings, I always come to the conclusion that life could be so much worse.
Images via tumblr.com.
If you ever feel life’s worries are too much to handle, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1 800 273 8255.
Comment: What’s your best tip for getting through tough times?