5 Things to Remember When You're Struggling to Cope
"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."—Franklin D. Roosevelt
When met with huge changes or challenges, losing perspective can be tempting. It's common to find yourself scrambling to make sense of an unexpected event such as a death or breakup, but this scrambling can lead you down a path of spiraling emotions that ultimately don't serve you or anyone else around you. Whether we admit it or not, when faced with emotional stress, most of us need help in the coping department. But like a muscle, coping skills need to be exercised in order to work for our wellbeing. Below are a few points to keep in mind when you're struggle to cope with your present situation.
1. Breathing is life (literally)
Most of us take breathing for granted, but when it comes to handling your emotions, concentrating on your breathing might be the difference between making a poor choice and an empowering one. Focusing on taking deep breaths is an effective way to induce relaxation and reduce stress at the biological level. Concentrate on relaxing your muscles while you inhale through your nose for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds out your mouth until you feel more like yourself.
2. It won’t always feel like this
It's easy to resort to beliefs of permenance when our previous reality is altered. Believing that life will always be as painful as it is right now only adds weight to an already heavy emotional load. Fortunately, these predictions of permenant distress are often wrong or exaggerated. Known as affective forcasting, psychological research has shown that more often than not, people aren't good at predicting their "emotional futures" and overextend the length of negative feelings. To help fight the damaging effects of affective forcasting, it's important to be mindful of your thoughts, the language you use (especially regarding yourself) as well as the media you ingest. To learn more about affective forcasting and other resilience-building practices, check out Option B by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and psychologist Adam Grant.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
As awkward or uncomfortable as it may feel, reaching out to family, friends and even professionals for help is not only beneficial, but crucial for moving forward. "Help" can mean anything from a heart-to-heart conversation to having someone be your silent gym or shopping buddy. Taking the time to understand what you may need from a loved one, as well as being receptive to help that's offered to you, could make a huge difference in how you cope with what's happening. Indulging in the love that surrounds you and practicing active gratitude for that love encourages healing that we may not be able to give ourselves.
4. Brainstorm positive ways to view the situation
Seeing a situation that brings about distressing emotions in a negative light is an inherently human habit. As a species, we're wired to look for problems and highlight the undesirable. But thanks to evolution, we have developed the ability to mold our thoughts as well as our perception of reality. This practice is vital for not only surviving tough moments, but also for facilitating prosperity and growth in the face of adversity. Take a mental note or jot down alternative ways to view your circumstances in a positive light; make sure to reexposure yourself to these viewpoints whenever pessemistic thoughts reappear.
5. Distance can be your best friend
When devestation over a life event becomes too much to handle, distance can be a great tool for promoting healing and mental clarity. For some people, this means a weekend away from familiar surroundings. For others, it can mean cutting off or limiting communication with a particular person. Remember, you can't always dictate the outcome of a hardship, but you can control how you respond to your circumstances. Creating distance between yourself and what's going on, in addition to using the power of response, can help to take back your life and usher you into a state of hope and recovery.