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When Life Gets Hard, Do These 5 Things

Tough times aren’t something foreign to humanity. We all deal with tough situations on a daily basis. Everyone does. Literally, every human is going through something. That’s why it’s so important to be kind, because we simply don’t know how much the people who surround us are hurting. Everyone is hurting a little. I’ll let that sink in. Your noisy neighbors are hurting. The barista that just messed up your order is hurting. Your boss, whom you are convinced dislikes you, is hurting. Your family is hurting and you may not even realize it.

Hard times affect us on many different levels, and though we have every right to feel negativity and allow ourselves to express that in whichever way we choose to, there does come a moment when you are faced with having to make a tough decision. You can either continue to be angry, sad, hurt, upset and every other negative adjective you can think of, or you can take control of that negativity and turn into something good. It’s easier said than done, I won’t lie to you, but it’s possible. Here’s a list. Now go and deal with this bad day as best you can, dear. It’s going to be okay.

1. Don’t overreact.

When something irritating happens, take a deep breath. As you breathe, analyze if this roadblock is worth losing your patience over. Yes, someone cutting you off on the freeway is annoying. Yes, getting an email from a coworker asking you to clarify something for the 100th time is exasperating. Let’s not get started on how displeasing it is when your partner does that thing you absolutely hate. I get it, but should this one bothersome thing set the mood for the rest of your day?

2. Look for opportunity in your challenges.

It’s natural to lose sight of the good things that could result when things get exceptionally hard. For example, what if in the midst of unemployment, we were able to finally take some time for ourselves and explore doing something we’re truly passionate about? What if in the midst of a disease, we were able to teach ourselves more about it and start a support group in our community for people going through the same thing? What if heartbreak helped us reset our priorities in life and helped us learn to love ourselves first? There is always an opportunity when a challenge presents itself, but you have to look past the dark to see it.

3. Look at the upside.

Not everything stinks. If you have a place to live in, a plate of food, people who love you, knowledge and breath in your lungs, you’re doing a lot better than you think. Things could be a lot worse, so work on being grateful for the things that are okay.

4. Focus on solving the problem.

Rarely does complaining get us anywhere. It’s good to do it once in a while to release the negative emotions—we don’t want that negativity to fester inside you. You’re in a pickle? Let out the negativity, but don’t just stay there. Work on finding a solution. Be aggressively active in looking for a way out. The sweet taste of triumph will be so worth it.

5. Find ways to take your mind off the situation.

Forgetting is a good thing sometimes. We don’t want to forget permanently, because hard days won’t disappear unless we work on getting them to go away. However, momentarily focusing your mind on something fun could help you put your thoughts in order. Go out with friends and have fun! Reach out to those who you know can listen to you and offer help or advice. Go for a walk. Eat something delicious. Listen to your favorite song. Buy new shoes. Do something that you know will make you feel good and will give you that little extra boost of energy to better your situation.

Fernanda is a native New Yorker who loves tea, fuzzy socks and stories

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