Facing a tough situation, feeling bad or insufficient, not liking your job or being just plain overwhelmed by life can be tough and duct tape may not always be the answer so here a collection of thoughts on coping!
- Everything can be made to be fun
I don’t care if you’re talking about writing a long paper, cleaning the bathroom, folding clothes or working out, ANYthing can be made to be fun if you just try hard enough. Think about what would make the weight of the task ahead of you less painful. Perhaps some ridiculous 80’s music blasting? How about watching a funny movie at the same time? Or perhaps you just need to go put on some clothes or makeup that makes you feel good to work up to that chore you’ve been dreading all this time.
For me, one of the major challenges is working out, which I do daily but actually despise significantly. Or at least I did. And still do sometimes. But my mission is to have fun with working out until I end up having fun with it. Sometimes that means putting on the “Brazilian Butt Lift” DVD which is pretty much a parody of itself and dancing around the gym looking like a total idiot. Other times that means blasting music before the workout to work up some energy. And every once in a while that just means doing 30 minutes of stretching instead of sweating up a storm but the end result is doing something I didn’t really want to do, in a way that was fun. Try it!
Bonus points on this one for being silly, which usually leads to having fun!
Double bonus points for realizing how contagious “fun” is. Not only will it make your day easier but other people (and kids) will want to be around you!
- Pay attention
If you think about the amount of information we deal with on a daily basis, and then compare that to what was considered “normal” just 30 years ago, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Newspapers, smart phones, TV, subway schedules, Facebook and email all bombard us with information at an insane rate. That’s a lot of stuff to deal with but somehow, while learning to cope with vast amounts of information instead of drowning in it, we have lost our ability to read between the lines, to catch the small details that tell you how someone really feels, things that aren’t said at all. This focus on processing fast, mass-produced information has robbed us sometimes of the ability to attention to detail. Pay attention to someone’s name pronunciation. Watch your kids body language as they describe a situation that happened at school. Look at those unusual colours of the sky. Ask questions, be curious, share! Truly listen to not only what someone is saying, but how they are saying it and you’ll be surprised at how valuable the “in between” stuff actually is.
Bonus points for recognizing that all the information you consume is YOUR choice and that the “unsubscribe” or “power off” buttons are there for you to use anytime you wish.
Double bonus points for recognizing that people notice mostly what they’re looking for, which is why only love songs play on the radio after you’ve broken up with someone.
So if you look for the beauty that is all around you instead of the ugly and broken, you naturally will see more beauty but you have to pay attention.
- Convince yourself – “Fake it til you make it”
What I’m talking about here is part number 1. “Everything can be made to be fun” and part ancient art of the jedi mind trick, where you can actually talk yourself into anything, given enough time and persistence.
This works both positive and negative and I’m drop dead serious, you WILL start believing anything you say to yourself given enough time.
This may mean stopping to look in the mirror and saying to yourself “you look awful/fat/ugly”, and stopping to actively looking for the negative and instead, find something positive to focus on. “I like the curve my hips make in this dress” or “this shirt makes my shoulders look muscular” or whatever you can come up with.
There were times in my life where I felt bad about myself and while putting yourself down is easy, it accomplishes nothing. So 1. do something about what bothers you and 2. start looking for things that you do like. This at times meant standing in front of the mirror for some time until I could see one thing I liked (past the 50 things I didn’t like).
This principal works not only with body issues but also with work challenges, life events, moving to a remote Caribbean island which may or may not turn out to be far more difficult than anticipated. Analyze whatever situation you’re dealing with, do something to change what bothers you, but then actively look for the POSITIVE things you like about the situation. Think about what you’re learning because of the situation you’re in and before you know it, you’ll actually and truly want to be in whatever situation you’re in.
I promise you will start seeing physical and mental changes in your life if you manage to shift your focus like this!
Bonus points for keeping a gratitude journal, especially on days when you’re feeling particularly bad/down/trapped/out of control.
- Break it up
If something seems too daunting of a task, simply break it up and ignore the enormity of the entire thing. I had to do this when I was going through that absolutely miserable pregnancy with my ginormous twins. When you’re diabetic, pregnant and on strict bedrest with two young kids to take care of while you can barely breathe, thinking about “I can do this for another few months” is entirely impossible.
So negotiate with yourself, what CAN you imagine making it until? Then make that your goal. For me, I couldn’t imagine not being able to breathe/walk/eat for even as much as a week so most of the time my goal was to make it til the next day. I knew I could do 24 hours, but probably not more, so I committed to that, while ignoring the larger, overwhelming situation. And of course, after 24 hours, I’d renegotiate and commit to another 24 hours.
This works with a huge pile of dishes too or a huge daunting paper, the dream vacation you always wanted or a 30 point to do list, btw. How many CAN you do right now without being overwhelmed? 6 glasses? Done, make that your goal and then walk away and come back later to do 6 more of something else.
Bonus points: Combine item 1. “Everything can be made to be fun” and/or item number 3. “Fake it til you make it” for extra bonus points to do whatever makes it less of a pain to get the job done!
- Give yourself a break!
Sometimes, one way to figure out what you want is to do the opposite of what you think you want and then seeing how that feels. Different perspective always makes it obvious what you can’t live without and what you don’t actually miss at all. I personally like to travel to clear my mind, interact with strangers, walk through foreign places but whatever you chose to do to get a break doesn’t have to be that complicated or expensive. Go for a walk by yourself in a part of town/island/country you’ve never been to before. Ride your bike down a path you don’t know yet. Cook something you’ve never made before. Go to the airport just to watch people. Write a letter, call someone to say thank you for something benign, anything that’s out of your routine and you will find that your brain welcomes the change and the perspective and very often, crystallizing thoughts or desires is much easier when you’re in an “open” state like this. I can’t promise you’ll always get the answers you’re looking for, sometimes you may figure out that you in fact do not miss that person, but I can promise you that your brain and your heart will welcome the change and the chance to just be.
Bonus points for doing this along with item number 2. “Pay Attention”