Life isn’t always fair. Accidents happen, marriages end, businesses fail and loved ones pass on. When your world crumbles, it's difficult to keep yourself intact. Believe me: I’ve been there.
After the financial betrayal of my ex-husband, I lost my award-winning business, went bankrupt and had to accept that my marriage was a lie. I very nearly came undone. But I still had two children to educate and provide for. I had no choice but to carry on.
Keeping it together when you want to fall apart isn’t easy. But it is possible. And in the end, it’s worth it. Here are seven tips to help you do just that.
1. Narrow your focus.
Emotional turmoil complicates even the simple things. Combat scatterbrain by focusing on the present. Look at your day objectively and prioritize your tasks. What must get done today, and what can wait?
If you find yourself worrying about an issue, consider whether you have the power to change it. Take action where you can, and stop obsessing over that which lies out of your hands.
Your energy levels are likely depleted; use what remains to address the things you can control.
2. Talk it out.
Burying your emotions can make you feel overwhelmed, isolated and cause a rapid decline in well-being. Take the weight off your shoulders by speaking to a trusted friend, family member or counselor about your feelings.
By sharing your thoughts, you will release the pressure buildup, and give yourself the opportunity to view the situation from a new perspective. Even if the person you speak to is unable to offer a solution, simply voicing your concerns will allow you to experience human connection and remind yourself that you aren’t alone.
Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.
3. Take your own advice.
Many of us are our own harshest critics and hold ourselves to unrealistic standards.
Rather than trying to persist through a difficult period, think about what you would tell a friend in the same situation. Then follow that advice yourself.
Delegate your responsibilities, give yourself down time and ask for the help that you desperately need and deserve.
Cut yourself some slack and accept that it’s OK to admit your humanity.
4. Find cathartic release.
Life’s curveballs can make you feel disempowered and voiceless. You may need to suppress your feelings in a professional environment or put on a brave face around other parents when you walk your child to class.
Breathe deeply in these situations and keep your mind on the task at hand. But don’t be afraid to feel the full weight of your emotions when you are in a private, safe place to do so.
Kick and scream into your pillow, write in a journal or channel Beyoncé in a living room dance spectacular. Do whatever it takes to release the negativity from your system.
Sometimes pain is better let out than locked in.
5. Take stock of your gratitude levels.
When you are on the brink, it can be easy to focus on the negativity in your life. Shift your thought pattern and remember everything for which you are grateful.
Think about your family. Your friends. Your health. Your sense of humor. Even access to basics like running water and a warm bed.
Reminding yourself of the simple things will help you to keep perspective and realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel
6. Keep functioning.
It’s OK to slow your pace for a while. It’s all right to be contemplative. But there is a fine line between healing introspection and total isolation. Without basic structure, you can fall out of step with reality and become your own greatest enemy in bouncing back.
Get dressed when you wake up, eat regular meals and set yourself a goal for each day, no matter how small it is. Reaching a target will give you a sense of purpose, productivity and accomplishment when the sun goes down.
It will also keep your sights set on the future, rather than on the past.
7. Use your experience for growth.
Every experience is an opportunity to learn and evolve. Use this moment of instability to rethink your boundaries and priorities.
Could this situation have been avoided? Is there a conversation you need to have? Are there people in your life you need to appreciate more? Are you being taken advantage of?
Finding meaning in your story will turn a negative experience into a productive one.
Keeping it together isn’t always possible. Sometimes, you need crumble a little before you can rebuild.
Whatever happens, be patient and surround yourself with a strong support network.
In time, this too shall pass.