Getting through tough times
Currently I am in hospital and each day things swing up and down. I seem to improve in one aspect and then some new challenge will arise. Each day is a challenge and when life is tough, it’s extremely important to stay as mentally strong as possible. The moment we begin to feel defeated, the outcome can change.
There are things we can do to help us through tough times:
Accepting that what you are going through isn’t great but that you just need to get on with it can actually reduce stress. When we have thoughts that it shouldn’t be happening to us and we resist what is happening, this adds to anxiety and stress as we try to block out the negative emotions. When we deal with the reality and look for ways to improve or work with what we have, it allows us to feel more empowered and less out of control.
Talk about it
Once you have accepted that this is your lot for now, (mine is that I am in pain and stuck in hospital) it becomes easier to talk about it. Talking can be ahugely cathartic process and others will share their experiences or possibly tell you of similar experiences of someone they know. This has happened to me and has made me feel less alone in what I am going through. Other people have been where I am and have managed to get through it and get back to normal productive lives. That gives me hope. Talking about it has helped me hugely and it is amazing how kind and thoughtful people can be. It can bring you closer to others and social support can make tough times easier to deal with.
Look after yourself
This is the time to pay even more attention to your self care and show yourself compassion. Whether it’s illness, a break up or losing your job, it’s not helpful at all to be self critical or to compare yourself negatively to others. Instead, be kind to yourself and treat yourself as you would a best friend.
Ask for help
Many of us feel we need to cope alone and if you are anything like me, you find it hard to ask others for help. It’s a strength to be able to ask for support when you need it. Don’t hold back. More than likely, you would do the same for them of the situation was reversed.
We all do it. We think about the worst possible scenario and freak ourselves out. Don’t do it. Often when we catastrophise we are predicting the future. Ask yourself, “where is the evidence?” At one stage, I had thoughts about how I would have cancer everywhere and that there would be no hope and got myself into a real state. I knew though that I was listening to thoughts and thoughts aren’t fact What you think doesn’t automatically happen. I made myself look for alternative ways of looking at the situation – I don’t know what the outcome will be. It might all be fine. Stop overthinking this. Then I would bring myself back to the present moment and stop living in my head, in the future.
What would you say to a friend?
This is a good question to ask yourself if you need to gain some perspective. If a friend of mine was going through something similar to me, I certainly wouldn’t tell them they would die imminently and to get their will in order. I would tell them to take it one day at a time and to not catastrophise.
There is a term called “post-traumatic growth” and it refers to the skills we learn from facing hardship. It can actually help us to feel braver and more confident when we face our fears and realise that we do get through it. See tough times as a way to flex your ‘psychological muscles’, to prove that you are stronger than you think. Sure, sometimes the worst does happen but the strength of the human spirit is amazing. The anticipation is often far worse than the actual event and when we are going through tough times, we deal with it as it comes and afterwards often realise that we made it, even thought it really was awful.
Tough times are a part of life. They’re not fun but they all add to who you are and who you become. Each experiience, even the awful ones can teach us valuable lessons.