Learning to Simplify

How to stay sane when times are hard

Let’s be real, we all go through those low seasons. We can get pulled into stress, depression, anxiety or any other negative emotion by a number of events; whether a terrible event has happened to us or many exciting events are coming on all at the same time.

For myself, I went through a stage where I felt really stressed from my first years of teaching. I felt unprepared for the amount of work and challenges that I faced. In the midst of all that I got engaged and started planning a wedding. I decided that this was not enough challenge and so decided to do my Master’s Degree at the same time. Some might think “Aren’t those all great things?” Yes, but because of the amount of work and pressure that piled up on me from all of these life events, I felt out of control, stressed all the time, and started going down into depression.

Here are a 6 strategies that I have used to get me through those tough seasons:

1. Find Someone on Whom You Can Unload

Whether it’s a friend, family member, dog, or therapist, just talking about it will help you get both relief and clarity. This has been the number one help when I was stressed and anxious about something. A big thank you to my husband who listens to me now and my family who sat quietly while I ranted and cried.

2. Journal About It

Write down what is going on and then how you feel about it. Often I found as I was writing it all out that my situation was not that bad. Seeing it on paper and just going through the process of writing it out helps the mind to process the information and start figuring out solutions. The bonus of this strategy is that you can go back to those entries later and see how difficult it was and yet you are still standing today.

3. Work on the Mind

Oh, the power of this seemingly little thing! You can completely change how you experience and how much you are affected by a negative event in your life by directing your thoughts. I found that when I chose to focus on the positive things in my life (even if they are small compared to the negative thing), my mind starts to look for more joy. When I was stressed about wedding planning, I would stop, remind myself that I am so lucky to be marrying my best friend and that this whole event is about us. I would then start to get excited about wearing the dress, about how pretty the flowers are going to be, about celebrating with all of my family and friends.

4. Get your body moving

It is a well-known fact that when we are active our body releases endorphins and we feel happier, less stressed etc. In those difficult times when there was tons of work, I would take just a 10 minute break and do some squats, running on the spot, etc. If there is too much to do, just switch tasks from a sitting one to where you’re moving. My mom always told me to just take a break by washing the dishes or sweeping the floor. Although it won’t get your blood flowing as much as exercise would, it does help you get some movement in while still being on track with all your work.

5. Find a hobby that feeds your soul

Basically, anything that will get your attention off the current circumstances and provide some joy in the meantime. It is refreshing to get out of a gloomy situation even for an hour, and often when you come back you will have fresh energy and perspective to deal with the situation. For me, this was anything to do with music. I learned to play the piano as a child and carried that through with me. When I was extremely stressed or sad I would just plonk myself in front of the piano and improvise for hours. While planning my wedding, I took up Adult Beginner Ballet classes. It made me feel pretty and required 100% focus on the technique. Plus, as a bonus, it gave me some exercise which released those endorphins.

6. Support your body with supplements

My hubby is super skeptical of this, but I have found it to be extremely helpful. Sometimes when we are in a tough season or our bodies are working on overdrive, we need a little more support. I am not qualified to tell you what vitamins or supplements you need to help you, but I do recommend you seek out the help of a naturopath doctor who can assess your needs and give you guidance as to how you could, naturally support your body.

There you have it; 6 strategies to help you stay sane through those tough seasons.

What I want to leave you with is a message of hope. Remember these two timeless truths: the best is yet to come & what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

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