Only 3 months into 2012, and it has already been a doozy of a year for myself and many of my family and friends. Break-ups, job losses, health issues-you name it my circle has dealt with it all in a very short period of time. Some people have developed good coping skills and come out on top, while others ignore the issues or never get over them. As a naturopath, I would love to say that I have great coping skills and know exactly what to do when I experience hard times, since I help people in my practice deal with emotional issues to reach complete wellness. The reality is that I still struggle with the best ways to deal and grow from difficult situations. But there are some things that I always do, which inevitably see me through the rain.
Journal, journal, journal. It sounds clichéd–every health guru, or therapist say we should journal to express & unload our hurt, disappointment, anger, resentment etc, but barely anyone actually does it. Writing in a journal creates focus and realism in our thoughts and helps us to be positive. Journalling a very negative affirmation, or emotion wakes us up to the damage that negativity can cause. Writing “I don’t deserve to be happy” (a common negative affirmation twirling through our minds) in a journal can be the catalyst to creating positive affirmations “No, I do deserve to be happy”. Journalling allows you to be completely honest, raw, vulnerable and exposed and there is no one judging you.
Read. I love to read, but when I am busy or upset, it is the first thing to get the boot from my life. Reading is especially cathartic when I am going through difficult times, because whether its fiction or non, it creates perspective, knowing that I am not the only one to go through hard times, and brings me joy since it’s a passion of mine.
My calendar fills up! Not with distractions, but with dates with friends and family aka my social support. Studies show that individuals with a close circle of quality relationships fare better when dealing with disease, death, divorce etc. Each person in my social network provides something different that helps me overcome hard times. One person is a realist, one is the enduring optimist, the other always makes me laugh. Whatever their “social role” may be in my life, whats the same amongst them all is that they care about me and want me to be happy and that in itself boosts my mood!
These are the major things that I do to overcome, learn and grow through hard times. However, there are two themes that connect these activities: 1) Talking about what is going on, whether in a journal, or to friends & family. Our minds can go to very dark places when left on their own. 2) Taking time to care for yourself. Don’t rush to overcome the pain or hurt by distracting yourself with work or busy activities. Allow yourself the time to feel the emotions and make taking care of your
self your number #1 priority