When times get hard, often negative emotions come to the surface like fear, anxiety, depression, anger, and worry to name a few and occupy way too much of your time. This is what I blog about: how to be happy even when times are hard. If you have never experienced prolonged hardship then you might not be trained in going through tough times. There are just things that you should NOT do when life is hard. If you are experiencing depression you will also find help in my post titled “Dealing with Depression – 43 Tips to Help You Stave off Depression, or if you feel stuck you might need a stopgap measure to help you get turned around, which I offer in a blog titled “Disaster Relief: How to Flip the Switch on Your Emotions and Feel Better Now. A stopgap measure or technique will help you in the short term. The long term solution is learning how to powerfully cope with life and to develop the habits and practices that will see you through challenging times.
Even without a pandemic, life is often very, very hard or challenging. My blog is devoted to helping you get through life and find happiness and joy or at the very least peace when life gets hard. There are practices, habits, attitudes and coping strategies that can help you be very functional when life goes south. Another post that might help you is “How to be Happy When You Are Suffering or Life is Bad”. Obviously, pandemics and lockdowns are extremely hard. There is no dispute about that. And there is the fact that life offers many situations that are so painful during normal times.
If you are suicidal please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately or your state or local suicide hotline. Tell someone. Talk about it. For my normal disclosure and waiver, I am not a therapist of any kind or a medical professional. You should always get your medical advice from a licensed medical professional. What I know is that you do matter to people and more than you know. Please take action if you are feeling any thoughts about harming yourself or committing suicide.
Examples of When Life Gets Hard
Death of a loved one or friend
Loss of a job
Financial problems and bankruptcy
Abusive or toxic relationships
Lack of the basics: food, housing, security
Being a caregiver of any kind
Losing people to suicide (an added impact to just death)
Having your money stolen
Being exploited or betrayed
Traumatic accidents of any kind
Loss of a pet
Dealing with a special needs child or adult (and the special challenges that brings)
Never getting married if you desired that
Never having children if you wanted that
Other broken dreams or unfulfilled desires that can be crushing
Dealing with someone who is addicted to drugs or is an alcoholic
I just happen to be someone who is highly skilled in dealing with hardship and life’s challenges. To tell the truth, I am actually a trauma expert who knows what it takes to have happiness even when life is excruciatingly difficult or challenging. Says someone who is starting over in life at age 58 with basically nothing. Yes, I am well aware of how hard life can be. At the same token I know how to be happy regardless of the circumstances, which you can find out more about in this post titled “How to Generate Your Own Happiness & Why It’s the Skill to Learn This Year”. I have compiled my top Do’s and Don’ts from years of experience. I know, I am so lucky! Haha. Not kidding though. Like everything else, this is my opinion based on lots of practice.
DosANDDonts of Challenging Times PDFThe Do’s and Don’ts of Handling Challenging Times List
1. Watch or listen to anything inspirational, entertaining or uplifting – books, videos, movies
Turn off the news of any kind! If something happens, trust me someone will let you know. It doesn’t serve your emotional state or wellbeing to watch the news.
2. Take a shower or hot bath – every day.
Don’t skip bathing as tempting as it might be. You will feel better, smell better, and have an improved mood by taking a shower or bath.
3. Get dressed up or put on your outside clothing on.
Just say no to PJ’s all day or slopping sweats and old t-shirts. You will absolutely feel better when you put on your outside clothes.
4. Pull yourself together by doing your normal grooming – hair, makeup, shaving, jewelry – whatever you normally do.
Skipping your normal grooming routine is not going to help you feel better. Even if you are not going to see anyone it will help you feel better and help you with motivation.
5. Limit your TV/Netflix to X hours in the day or evening. You can even use your TV/Netflix as a reward for doing chores or other projects on your list.
Binging on TV or Netflix all day or night is not going to leave you feeling empowered. It is not going to forward your life. Putting a limit on it or use it as a reward will go a long way to productivity and feeling good.
6. Minimize contact and interactions with negative people or situations that will bring you down.
Spending time with negative people or in negative situations can be very draining. Just say no. Do what you have to do to avoid anything negative.
7. Limit alcohol or just say no. Same thing for other addictions.
Day drinking should be reserved for tailgates, parties and special events. You will feel better by skipping or reducing your addictions.
8. Increase your nutrition in any way that you can.
Eating junk food all day long will not help your health or help you feel better. Trust me any improvements you make in your diet will yield big results.
9. Limit your feeling sorry for yourself or pity parties to a specified and short period of time like maybe 10 minutes a day or something reasonable.
Prolonged pity parties that go on all day or for days on end are not going to help you. Grieve the loss/losses you are experiencing and then start moving forward with positive things.
10. Work on building your emotional intelligence and empowering attitudes.
Skip the negative or defeatist emotions and attitudes. If you have a tendency towards being a pessimist, I would suggest “The Power of Positive Thinking” a decades old book that has helped so many people get out of dark places.
11. Learn to look on the bright side or find the silver lining of situations. It can be done.
It is time to stop catastrophizing and thinking and believing the worst of things. It is simply not an empowering way to live life. You can learn to change the way you think.
12. Focus on building and creating your life to be what you want it to be. By doing that you will be focused on things that bring you happiness and joy.
Worrying is not a good use of time and energy. It is draining to spend time worrying. You can learn to do productive things with your life and to stop worrying.
13. DO SOMETHING – walk, clean, organize anything. You will have a better sense of wellbeing by being productive.
No one feels great about wasting time and lazing around. To truly feel better get busy and do something you will not only feel better but you will get something done!
14. Spend time doing a hobby or start a new one if you need to.
Being bored is not empowering. Boredom doesn’t have a positive feeling associated with it. Get busy doing a hobby to feel better.
15. Pray or Meditate to improve your emotional state.
Feeling anxious, fearful or afraid does not contribute to wellness or wellbeing. There are several things you can do to reduce feelings of anxiety, worry and fear covered in my blog beyond prayer and meditation.
16. Make a plan for your life and your future.
To reduce or end feelings of helplessness and feeling out-of-control, make a plan for your life and start to execute your plan.
17. Deal with any anger or feelings of resentment because that is important to your wellbeing both emotionally and physically.
If you don’t deal with your feelings of anger or resentment, it is likely that you will either turn those feelings inward on yourself or outward towards others.
18. Get your head in the game and skip the blame game because that is not helpful.
Whatever happened is water under the dam. Get over it. Move on. Focus on the future and creating the life you love.
19. No one is ever happy in the divisive, bad-mouthing, corrupt world of politics. Let other people deal with that. Learn what you need to in order to be able to vote, but it’s not going to help you to get involved in political fighting.
Stay out of political discussions and fighting. Focus on things that empower your life and move you towards your future – the future you are creating.
20. Design your life. Create your future. Live the life you have always wanted.
Don’t stay stuck. Get in action to pull yourself forward into a future of your design. You can do it!
21. Deal with your problems instead of being in denial about them. What problems do you have and how can you solve them? Ask for help if needed!
Being in denial can be helpful at times. Yet what is even better is dealing with your problems head on. What needs to be done to take care of your problems.
22. Make a list of what you could be doing instead of complaining or whining. List goals or projects – anything! Just make a list and get to it!
Complaining or whining is not going to get you anywhere. Limit the time you spend complaining and whining if you want to feel better sooner than later.
Now the question, do I really do the things listed in the table above? You bet your bottom dollar I most certainly do. Why? Because this really works. Of course I do because I practice what I preach. I have been doing the things that I blog about since college or you could say for a very long time as in decades. From the above table of 22 Do’s and Don’ts, I will give you my top 10 habits to start working on if you don’t already have them in your arsenal of daily habits.
Unless you have mobility issues walking is a low-impact, easy, free activity that will benefit you emotionally, psychologically and physically. Even if you simply shoot for 10-15 minutes a day. Make this a habit.
Deal with your emotions. Here is the really, really great news – dealing with your emotions is a skill set that will provide a lifetime of benefits. It’s never too late to learn how to deal with, process and manage your emotions. You can find some help for this in the post titled “Top 17 Benefits of High Emotional Intelligence and the 29 Traits of People Who Have It”.
Start directing your life. You will feel ten or twenty times better on a daily basis when you are directing your life. It’s one of the things that most people just don’t do. I talk about directing your own life in most of my blog posts and the place I would start is early on in the post titled “Road Map for Creating a Life that YOU LOVE”.
Improve your nutrition. Any little thing that you can do to improve your nutrition is going to help your emotional, psychological and physical health. Simple little things like substituting one healthy food for one junk food, or drinking more water, or reducing your sugar intake. There are so many things you can do here or there. You will find out what I have to say about nutrition in this post titled “The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Nutrition, Why It Matters and How It Could Save or Change Your Life”.
Do things that make you happy. I am well aware that most people that I have coached over the years do not have a list of things that make them happy. And that is one of the things that clients end up making in the coaching process. How are you ever going to be happy if you don’t even know what makes you happy. Once you understand what makes you happy you can then sprinkle your day and life with those things.
Use a Reward System to Motivate Yourself. It’s frequently hard to establish new habits especially if they are habits that are foreign to you. Using a personally designed reward system that you design for yourself will absolutely help you get and stay motivated. I have been doing this for decades because it not only works but it is FUN! You can learn more on how to set up your own personal reward system.
Pray or Meditate. I personally pray daily because I find it calming, it lines up with my religious and spiritual beliefs, and it is grounding for me. If praying doesn’t light you up maybe meditation would be of value. This falls under the heading of being mindful. Clearing your mind and getting centered, grounded, or whatever you want to call it.
Ask for help. While asking for help is never on anyone’s list of “oh yeah, I want to do that” kind of thing, asking for help is sometimes the thing that is called for. There are people who WOULD help you if they knew that you needed help. There are people who would be extremely happy to help because it would give them JOY and Happiness to contribute to you. I am actually terrible at this, and yet I do it when I have to. I am not saying that you have to like it. Just be open to asking for help as the situation calls for.
Pick an affirmation that is healing or appropriate for you. If are struggling in life, prone to negative thinking, have feelings of anxiety, depression, etc. then affirmations are a great way to start to change the wiring of your brain. It can be a very simple affirmation or statement. Here are a few examples: I am absolutely good enough. Happiness is a choice and I choose to be happy. I don’t have to be perfect. God loves me. One of my new 2020 favorites is actually a refrain from the “I Surrender Novena” which is: “Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.” An affirmation, simple statement or short prayer can help you in several ways.
Call to Action
More people in the world are struggling now than ever before. If you found some value in this blog post please help others by sharing it on social media. What are the specific areas that you are struggling with? How can I help you? Please leave me a comment with what I can do to support you to thrive and flourish in challenging times. Or contact me about my life coaching and motivational speaking. I feel a deep sense of urgency to help people. How can I do that for you?