Sometimes, life can be really damn hard.
This year has already had a lot of tough moments for me, and I know that a lot of people around me have been facing some really difficult, heavy things this year too. So when I came across this list, which I posted on my old blog years ago, I thought it was worth a re-share. (And even more so as August is Grief Awareness month.)
If you’re struggling, feeling stressed, stuck in the sticky vortex of grief, in pain, or looking for ways to help heal, here are some things I’ve found that can make a world of difference. Little things that make you feel lighter and make life a little brighter.
Give one or two of them a go. And be kind to yourself.
Downloaded a guided meditation app and take some time out. Meditation helps to promote calmness, peace of mind and fulfilment; it can also decrease stress and worrying. By focussing on the present moment, meditation can help quell anxiety and shutdown ‘what if’ worrying, as well as teaching you strategies for resilience, self-care and peace.
Write down all of the things you are grateful for. Start small if it’s hard – a tissue to wipe your tears with, the bed you slept in, hot showers. Build your way up to the bigger things, and even go as far as listing all the people in your life you know would be there for you if you asked. Practising gratitude can increase levels of energy, optimism, and empathy, and create greater feelings of satisfaction with life.
Write it out
If you have trouble talking about your problems, write about them instead. Get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper and get some clarity.
Do something for someone else
It’s a guaranteed way to give you a break from your own life and make a difference to someone else’s. You’ll be appreciated and know you’ve achieved something, and that’s an invaluable way to feel.
Move your body
Walk, run, jump, dance, cycle, swim, stretch – do whatever you feel up to. Don’t beat yourself up for not going fast enough or far enough, because every little bit counts and just getting started is enough. It might even get you out of the house and interacting with other people.
In your home, where no one can see. Start small, then get lost in the music. Jump around. Wave your arms. Bust out your best moves. The physical exhaustion and the endorphins will make you feel lighter, even if just for a few minutes.
Listen to music
Listen to the saddest songs you can find, and wail along as you bawl your eyes out – the catharsis will be amazing. Then listen to something more upbeat. Something that makes you feel strong. Something that says ‘this did not break me’. Bonus tip: listen to the music you loved when you were young and relive the feeling of excitement that came from seeing you favourite band on TV.
Rest and recover
Sleep can be one of the first things to run out the window during times of stress. Try meditating, listening to relaxing music or taking a hot bath to help you drift off – but if you find it’s been a week and you’ve only had a couple of hours sleep each night, don’t be afraid to see your doctor or pharmacist for help. Often all it takes is a couple of nights to get back into a good sleep routine.
Watch something funny on Netflix
It’ll feel good to laugh.
Change things up
When you’re going through a major life change, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed; but if you are able to look at the stressful situation as just one change in a hurricane of many, it may be easier to deal with. Dye your hair. Buy a new couch. Hang some artwork. Get a new wardrobe. Take a different route to work. Eat at a new restaurant. Surround yourself with new things and experiences, and start creating new memories that are separate to the source of your problems.
De-clutter your life
Throw out useless things you’ve held onto, donate items you no longer use, and create some space for yourself. De-cluttering your space is great for your mind, and is another way to create an all-important sense of achievement.
Remind yourself: you’ve got this
There is nothing life has thrown at you that you have’n’t been able to cope with. You’ve already survived some pretty difficult times over the years. Things you thought were hard or even impossible – you’ve dealt with it all, you’ve found a way through. You can cope with this as well.
Rally the troops
It could be a night on the town with your girlfriends, a coffee with your bestie or training for a marathon with your gym buddy – whatever works for you, get out there and do it. It may not fill you with the same level of joy as usual, but give it a chance and it will creep up on you. If all else fails, fake it until you make it.
Did you know that the anticipation of a holiday can bring you as much joy as the actual holiday itself? Escaping from daily life to research dream destinations, and then making solid plans as and when you can afford them, gives you a boost of happiness as you look forward to the good times ahead. Planning smaller things, like a fancy meal or get together, can be just as rewarding. Write it in your diary and allow yourself to look forward to something.
It can be really hard to take care of yourself when you feel down, but physical help is so linked to mental wellbeing that it can’t be ignored. Treat yourself to a delicious healthy meal at a vegetarian café, snag a bag of organic soup from the deli section of your local supermarket, or whizz up a tasty smoothie with loads of added healthy goodies. Your body will thank you.
Celebrate the small wins
You might be heartbroken, but at least you made it out of bed and into work today. You might not have a job, but you did go for a walk today. You might not know what you want to do with your life, but you did make your home feel more beautiful today. And if you did any of the things on this list – that’s a massive win!
If you have a friend you think could benefit from this article, please share it with them. Or better yet, help them achieve any of the things on this list. Rock up at their house with a delicious meal and a funny movie and give them a break from worrying about life – living room dance party optional.