Everyone gets into stressful situations. All of them are valuable in some way, even if they don’t feel like it at that moment. No matter what life throws your way, with these five strategies you should be able to endure any life challenge and come out of it happier, healthier, and in a better position to find less difficulty down the road.
1. Stay positive and look for the silver lining
While the myth that humans beings are naturally optimistic has been busted, the benefits of staying positive are still there. Whenever you are confronted with a difficult situation, whether it’s new or reoccurring, it’s important to take a deep breath, calm your negative thoughts, and then refocus on the positive.
In most cases, this is easier said than done. However, the more you practice looking for the benefits of what could be a bad situation, the better you get at it. That core of positivity, over time, will lead to better choices overall and a healthier life no matter what happens. More than one study has lead to that conclusion.
Staying positive makes you stronger. It significantly reduces the risk of premature death in those diagnosed with an aggressive or chronic illness. It can improve your chances of having a better quality of life after a personal or natural disaster. This has been the case in most reports.
On the other hand, staying positive means finding the hidden benefits of any situation. It doesn’t mean deluding yourself to the point that you don’t see the situation anymore. Positivity isn’t expected to be a form of escapism. It is intended to be a way to cope with your current situation and rise above it.
2. Control what you can, let go of what you can’t
You don’t have to take responsibility for everything and not every situation in your life is your fault. It’s important to remember both of these things because if you start to lose perspective things can get completely out of proportion.
If an unfortunate situation has come up and you aren’t directly involved, realise you don’t have to be. If someone else is hurt or in trouble and you feel responsible, take the time to figure out why that is. Meditation can help you separate your personal feelings from a situation and examine it objectively. If you don’t think you have time, try meditating in the shower. Writing or journaling can help, too.
Once you’ve realised where you truly stand, you can decide whether to get involved or not. Once you have a concrete plan, it’s a lot easier to stay focused on what you can control rather than getting bogged down in what you can’t.
3. Get in touch with a support network
Support networks are everywhere, even if you haven’t found the right one yet. If you are in a specific, relatable situation, then there may also be an organization devoted to setting up support groups for people in the same place as you. If your problems are more personal, you still have options.
If you don’t have a support network yet, it’s not too late to join one. A support network doesn’t have to be geared towards fixing your situation directly to be useful. If you’re going through a tough time at work or adapting to the responsibilities of being a new parent, rely on your support network of family and friends. If academic stress is getting to you, join a club.
A social support network can come from any situation where you’re connecting with people positively. Over time you can trade favours and support each other. Remember, helping someone else can benefit you too. In both cases, you reap long-term health benefits and your quality of life will increase, even if you might not feel it yet. Without good friends and family, a problematic situation has the potential to be something worse.
4. Take a step back and adjust your perspective
How you frame a situation can make all the difference. In fact, you might not even realise how your own assumptions might be causing a situation to become worse. Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something because of how you imagined it would turn out no matter how unlikely those bad things were?
That’s how perspective works. On occasion, letting your imagination run wild can be a bad thing. Some of those thoughts you’ve had, true or not, can make an everyday situation into something insurmountable.
To examine those thoughts, you need to know what they are. So write them down. Then ask yourself why you think them. Once you have a good idea about why, decide what to replace them with. It will take practice, but improving a situation can be as simple as changing your perspective.
5. Realise that each difficulty makes you stronger
Just about every situation in life comes with a lesson. Some are, of course, more valuable than others. No matter what has happened or is happening in your life, it’s important to be kind to yourself. A situation won’t become less stressful or intense if you’re hard on yourself. More than likely, habits like that will just make you less resilient in the long term.
How do you stay focused and still nurture your human side? Treat yourself well. Take a long bath, try a new restaurant or take a class you’ve always wanted to try. Drink a cup of tea for more than just the health benefits of tea. Indulge in a little retail therapy.
No matter what your tactic, don’t let any situation make you love yourself less. Things can get hard, you can make a mistake, but that happens to everyone. Be better for it, endure and conquer, and you’ll come out on top.
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Author: Amy Boyington
Amy has been a dedicated blogger for over 17 years. She is a proud Mother and loves to write about health, wellness and working from home as a parent. You can find her on her blog, theworkathome-mom.com.