We’ve all got our stories, our hurts, our stresses and our niggles. Sometimes, they are just daily irritations that bring us down. But, sometimes, everything seems to happen all at once. We’re left gasping, reeling and totally unsure of the next step; terrified that it may take us deeper into the hole we’re already grappling to get out of.
I wanted to share a few do’s and don’ts that helped me, and some that I’ve picked up as lessons after the fact:
- Lean on friends and family that want to be there for you. Let them cook a meal for you, spend the night at their place. I have treasured friends that let me lodge with them for months and months and I think about them every day; I know I could never repay their kindness (or their husband’s patience as I sniveled non-stop and traipsed around their house in my pajamas).
- Don’t be overly disappointed when certain friends and family are not there for you. There’s nothing like drama to show you who is really invested in you. It’s a gift in disguise, even if it takes you a while to work through it.
- Eat healthily. For the love of your long-term well-being, eat healthily. You may wretch at the thought of food. Or, you may be gorging on comforting treats. You’re only going to be left with long-term consequences for a short-term problem (even if it feels like it’s never-ending).
- Move forward from today. Reliving the heartbreak, thinking about “what ifs” and regretting things you’ve said and done in the past is only going to erode your emotions and your will to recover. Stop it. Move forward.
- Apologise when it is needed, as soon as possible. This doesn’t mean that the situation will change, but you’re not living with the added guilt of knowing you need to say that you’re sorry to weigh you down even more. It’s hard, but it’s necessary. And, it’ll go better than you expect.
- Learn from what is happening. Look at how the experience is going to benefit you, build you, or help you to help others.
- Appreciate the small things. If the only thing you can do today is have a bath before crawling back under the covers, then light candles and add some bubbles. Allow the details to add some value to your day.
- Create an environment that encourages happiness. This may mean hiring corny comedies, hanging out with that one friend that can make you guffaw, or Googling bad Idols auditions (my personal favourite). Identify what it is that makes you smile, and do lots of it.
- Helping others may feel impossible when you feel like you have nothing to give. So, start small. Send a nice message to someone else that is feeling down, compliment someone at the till, give a tip to the petrol attendant, smile at strangers, and so on. Being part of making someone else feel better will show you that you have it in you to make yourself feel better too.
- Do something mindless that keeps your hands busy; like crocheting, colouring in, knitting. I even went through a stage where I tore paper into tiny pieces, just to keep my hands occupied. And the tearing sound was curiously satisfying.
- I find that, when I have felt that I was losing control and things were spiralling down, taking a logical approach worked best. Ask yourself:
- Is there anything I can do to change this situation?
- If there is, am I doing it?
- What is the worst thing that will happen to me? How likely is this to happen?
- If a friend was in this situation, what would I tell them?
- Is this going to matter in a year?
- Find a way to express yourself. For me, this was just talking. And talking and talking. Remember those lovely friends I mentioned? Gosh, thank you, guys. For others, it’s writing, or drawing, or exercise (damn, why couldn’t mine have been exercise?!) Find your thing and do it. It will be painful at times, but the poison is inside and has to get out. You have the choice of making it a quicker process, or letting it seep out over years.
- Don’t allow the death or end of a relationship with someone to cause you to put that person on an unnecessary pedestal. This is a sure-fire way to long for them, forget the difficulties, and obsess over what’s been lost. If you do think about a relationship, try and stay reasonable and factual; not giving in to fantastical views of that person.
And then, a few encouraging things that I would swirl around my brain on a very regular basis:
- Nothing lasts forever, whether good or very bad.
- Giving makes you happier than receiving.
- Happiness is a choice that depends on your attitude, not on events in your life.