When things get difficult, 10 strategies to cope
From life crisis to financial crisis, unemployment, break ups, depression or stress, we all face challenges in life. Having lived with an eating disorder for many years and having had to rebuild my life from scratch after moving to Norway, I have gathered some strategies that helped me cope when things got difficult. I’m sharing them with you, in the hope of helping those who need it.
1. Take care of your health and your personal hygiene. When we feel worthless or inadequate, it’s easy to think that we don’t deserve being taken care of and punish ourselves by eating junk, not sleeping enough or neglecting our personal hygiene. I have found out though, that taking good care of yourself is the first step to feeling worthy again. Try to eat healthy, work out, sleep enough, be clean and take care of your house, even if you don’t feel like it. Show yourself, through your own actions that you ARE worthy enough, no matter the circumstances. Maybe you won’t manage to do all of the above at once, but perfection is beside the point here.
2. In fact, cutting yourself some slack from trying to be perfect might be good for you. Indulge yourself to an amazing meal, a nice bath, a good book or anything you like. Give yourself treats, you deserve them. Just remember that overindulging might be a concealed way for you to punish or hurt yourself.
3. Allow yourself to forget about the problem for a while. When we are in distress, we tend to overthink what’s troubling us and that can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Pretending there’s no problem at all, is something different and it hardly ever works, but letting go for a while, will give you a precious break. It will allow you to clear your head. Go out and walk for a while, go to a new restaurant, watch a movie, catch up with friends. Be genuine and open in your interaction with them. They might not have the solution to your problem, but they might give you some good laughs and remind you that life’s good.
4. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling like you do. When you’re going through something difficult, people will often say “can’t you just put yourself together?” or “there’s people in this world with more serious problems, get over this!” The truth is, that there ARE people out there with more serious issues than yours and that it WOULD be awesome if you could just clap your hands and be all nifty and dandy. Thinking like that however, will not help you. You are who you are, you have your very own traits and path in life and your emotions are there to teach you your next life lesson. Acknowledge them, accept them and understand, that not everyone around you has the capacity to deal with them at all times. It might be possible, that those closest to you, get tired trying to help you out, so cut them some slack too.
5. Instead of talking about what’s troubling you with someone you love, hug someone you love! Sometimes we try too hard to talk things out, we try too hard to find solutions, we overuse our brains and words when all we need is love. So hug the people you love and stay in that hug for a while. Let the feeling sink in, it’s love in its purest form…
“You are who you are, you have your very own traits and path in life and your emotions are there to teach you your next life lesson”
6. A persistent problem is an indication that you need to change something in your life. What is your problem telling you? As much as you would love to just have a better boss or be able to eat endless chocolate without putting on a single pound, this world will not change. The one who can change is you, so maybe it’s time for a new job or it’s time to cut down a bit on those lovely chocolate waffles- yes they are lovely! Your problem is an opportunity for you to change so don’t resist it, be brave, you’re only going to become better and stronger. If you perceive something as a problem, it means you have the power to change it.
7. Dare to dream. Somehow, problems deprive us of our sense of self and even our dreams, but is that really ok with you? Dare to dream again, make plans, think of who you want to be and how you want to live your life. A helpful tip I once read about, is to create a “self wall” –I am not referring to your Facebook wall. On the Eleni wall for example, I used to hang up pictures of places I wanted to visit, or interesting texts and articles, or anything else I liked, like interior decoration ideas, recipes etc. Allow yourself to rediscover or redefine yourself, you’re not only your stagnated self.
“If you perceive something as a problem, it means you have the power to change it”
8. Put your issue into perspective. No I’m not going to tell you to think of people who are worse off than you, we’ve covered this. Just ask yourself how much space and how much power you will allow your problem to have over your life. Please, give yourself a second and actually ask yourself this question. You were given one life. Cherish it, live it wholeheartedly and don’t let anyone or anything take over it and make you feel worthless!
9. Do the crazy chicken dance! I will not elaborate on this one, just do it!
10. Smile! Yes, that’s what you get through the crazy chicken dance strategy so you might as well do anything that will make you smile.