When you’re facing a tough time, it can feel impossible not to get discouraged. Challenges are called challenges for a reason. They push you in different ways to grow into a better version of yourself, even if that means breaking down before you can get back up.
No one gets through life without experiencing their own dark days. It’s normal, so don’t get upset with yourself for going through a tough time. There’s no set rules on how long these difficulties can go on for or how deeply they’ll make you hurt, but there are always tools you can use to get through it one day at a time.
One healing technique that people often use is recognizing and focusing on little wins. The little wins are the ones that are taken for granted. You experience them every day, but you may not always see them. Read on to learn about some of these little wins. They’ll inspire you even on your darkest days, so you can get back up and put another foot forward.
1. Praise Your Accomplishments
Over the course of your life, you’ve succeeded in accomplishing so many things. When you were a kid, you learned how to ride a bike, tie your shoes or go to school. As you got older, you navigated the world of friendships, relationships and building your career. Everything you learned took time and effort, which shouldn’t go unrewarded. Start lifting yourself up by giving yourself a pat on the back for your previous accomplishments. The smaller they are, the better.
2. Value Your Love
Even if you feel alone, no one is truly on their own in life. There will always be people who love you. They could be family or friends. Love can come from the librarian who sees you every Saturday, or the cashier at your grocery store who always talks with you about the newest food you’re trying. Whether or not you feel it right now, you are so loved. You will be loved when you feel alone and you’ll be loved when you get out of the darkness.
3. Recognize Your Efforts
Life is about persevering. You’re always trying to do your best every day, no matter how you feel. The more you try, the more it becomes a habit, but it’s still something you should recognize as an accomplishment. It takes guts to give your all every day, especially if you’re doing something you’re not totally passionate about. Your ability to try is a small win that should feel like a big one.
4. Rest When You Need To
Dark times can be brought on by burning yourself out. Whether it’s about work, school or your social life, you may have reached a point where you need to put everything on pause. You are always allowed to rest when you need it. Rest is a win in and of itself. Saying no to things is healing for your spirit, so you can come back ready to try even harder.
5. Practice Breathing Techniques
Another way to have a small win is to practice breathing techniques. Darkness can be brought on by anxiety, and you can defeat your anxiety just by how you breathe. Take a long, deep inhale through your nose and hold it for three seconds. Release slowly. Repeat until you feel better or more relaxed. You’ve now learned how to center yourself. Another small win!
6. Choose Not To
Once you get into your own routine, it’s so easy to get stuck in the motions of doing what you do every day. Even when the world seems dark, you may feel like you have to keep going. A personal win you can have today can just be choosing not to take part in what’s adding to your stress.
These activities can be a variety of things. It could be that you’re wearing your body down with rigorous daily gym workouts. You may bring your work home with you and stay up until very late hours just to get ahead of the game. You may be constantly planning the future, setting goals that you won’t be able to reach for a long time.
Figure out what choices and activities contribute to your darkness. Look back at what you’ve been doing and trace it to how you feel right now. Choose not to do those things, whether it’s temporary or permanent. Leave your work at work. Give yourself a rest day. Do something fun in your free time. Recognizing unhealthy habits may be considered a small win, but it could be a big one in setting your days back on track.
7. Eat Healthy Foods
Switching your eating lifestyle over from what you currently eat to something that’s completely healthy may be hard to do and even impossible to maintain. That’s why eating healthy foods can be a small win. You don’t have to throw out everything in your fridge or go on a big grocery run. Instead, choose the low-fat versions of your favorite chips or throw a side of broccoli in with your dinner later this week. Healthy foods will make you feel physically better, which will transform the head space you may find yourself stuck in.
8. Make a List
Sometimes the darkest days are debilitating. You may not be able to do anything but lie down in bed. That’s okay. Open a note on your phone or make a mental list of what you’re going to do when the darkness has passed. Set small goals for yourself. You’re going to shower and brush your teeth. You’re going to put gas in your car. You’re going to celebrate making it through your first day back by going out for ice cream.
Your list is going to be distinctly yours. Your goals and accomplishments shouldn’t be compared to anyone else’s. Celebrate the small win of making a list. You’ll have time later to do what needs to be done. For now, process your thoughts and emotions. Treat yourself kindly. Your list will be waiting for you when you get back to a better place.
During the darkest days, even the smallest light will make a big difference. Try recognizing these small wins in your own life, or find other ones that are similar. Celebrate what you can and be your own cheerleader. It’ll help you grow stronger every day, until you can look back at the dark clouds receding in the distance.