GEM OF ZEN #39
10 THINGS THAT MAY HELP YOU DURING HARD TIMES
Life has thrown many curveballs at me in the last 12 months. I’m not going to lie – it’s been tough! However, I believe that everything we experience in life is an opportunity to learn and grow and these last 12 months have been no different. It’s made me very aware that I have been very lucky through my life. I’ve had a very long run with very few curveballs. Life has mostly gone along pretty swimmingly well for me and I’m so grateful for that. I’m also very aware that many others have much tougher curveballs thrown at them than me.
Lately, ever since Dad passed really, but more specifically in the last 12 months, there’s been one thing after another and that has made it very difficult at times to keep my head above water and to find the joys in life. Being a HSP and Empath has made this harder for me. I say that not as a “woe is me” but because knowledge is power and knowing this about myself helps me know better how to help myself. I can absorb the pain, sorrow and stresses of others and I’m now investigating ways to protect myself from this happening while still being the empathetic and caring person that I like to be. I saw this quote (below) posted recently which really resonated with me and actually inspired this post.
One thing about me that has improved over the years and which has come from all the research and writing I do here on the blog, and with the wisdom age brings with it, is that I listen much more to my body and I observe my mind now. I look within so that I can truly understand myself and what I need. I do what I need to do to find my calm, my peace, my safe place where I can recharge and restore. I reset to that place when I need to. With this self care practice, thankfully my light has not been consumed. We all need to find the tools that work for us to help us during challenging times and to care for ourselves every day.
Of course, everyone is different and everyone’s circumstances and curveballs are different. However, the principles of looking within and taking time to understand yourself and apply the self care you need still applies to us all regardless. Note that if the curveball thrown at you is a close personal grief, please understand that this grief may also overlap with trauma and you need to be so kind to yourself. It’s going to be a process and you will need to go with the flow and do what you can to nurture yourself through it. There’s no timeframe, no right way. Everyone just finds their own way. Please do reach out to others when you need to and seek professional help if you’re not coping.
I thought I’d share 10 of the things that have helped me through hard times. I hope some or all of them might be helpful to you.
1. Save your energy for what is important
My energy is valuable (like currency) and important to me so I no longer waste it on things that don’t serve me or are not all that important to me. No time for people pleasing!
2. Try and get some regular time outdoors in nature
I don’t know about you but nature always restores and uplifts me. My favourite quote which I’ve shared many times on the blog is one by John Burroughs – “I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order”. It doesn’t have to be a major expedition to go hiking in the mountains for example. It could be as simple as going outside and lying by my pool or going for local walk. I’m fortunate to live near water and love to go for a walk along the esplanade or even just sit on a seat and look out over the water, taking in the sounds of the lapping water, the birds sounds, the trees swaying in the breeze, etc. I do love a day trip or a couple of days away somewhere in nature too – so now and then I try to organise a trip to the mountains, the beach, or a walk in a rainforest!
3. Keep your body moving
I’m not a sporty person. I can’t run. I haven’t even been able to walk much lately because of a broken foot, but I have made Yoga and Pilates a part of my daily routine and it has been life changing for me. I roll out my mat every morning. I do MerryBody with the MerryMaker sisters. It’s yoga. It’s pilates. And it’s sometimes a fusion of the two – all on an App on my phone. I can take it with me wherever I go which has been very handy lately when I’ve been spending a lot of days over at Mum’s. (not sponsored – just love)
4. Keep check on your perspective
It’s easy to look ahead and see endless days of more of the same challenges and you can easily catastrophise. Breathe! One day at a time and remember, nothing ever stays the same. Instead, focus on the things you can control about your situation that helps you to manage and feel better (like some of things I’ve listed above & below). Remember to reach out to friends and loved ones for support when needed.
5. Plan something to look forward to
It’s always nice to have something on the horizon to look forward to. I recently had five nights away at Mount Tamborine which was wonderfully restorative and lovely to look forward to. More recently I had a lovely day out where I met up with a friend for lunch and then we saw the Mary Poppins musical. It’s well known that I love musicals and this one was fabulously uplifting! The Tennis Player and I are planning a trip to New Zealand next year so that will be something exciting to look forward to. Meanwhile I need to plan some more day trips and maybe a few nights away before then.
6. Listen to your body
If I’m under too much stress, my body lets me know. Aches and pains increase. I get overwhelmed. My anxiety increases. I can’t think straight. I can start feeling down. I get run down. I feel like I’m coming down with something. I get tired and lethargic. I can even get a low grade temperature. When this happens I know I need to rest. Time out time! If I don’t rest, I will end up getting very sick. If I do rest, I am usually soon restored. Listen to ‘your’ body and do what you need to do to keep it well.
7. Be mindful of your thoughts
Negative thinking can lead you to dark places and affect not only your mental health but your physical health too. I try and catch myself if I’m thinking negatively and do something to snap me out of it. It could be meeting up with a friend for coffee or lunch, maybe doing some art or going for a walk outside. My yoga and pilates every morning certainly helps. Sometimes it can be as simple as walking outside in bare feet and feeling the grass beneath my feet. Another thing I like to do is lie on the grass and look up at the clouds and birds and trees. Sometimes achieving something around the house is enough to help!
8. Rest your mind
Sometimes when I have too much going on, too much to think about or worry about or to do, I can become overwhelmed. When I become overwhelmed my mind goes into a spin and I can achieve nothing. Anxiety can creep in and panic too sometimes if I’m not managing the load and need to. The only thing to do is to give my mind a rest. I do this by:
- trying some meditation. I like guided meditations.
- roll out my mat and do some yoga – ‘yin yoga‘ is a favourite for when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed
- sometimes I just give myself some ‘veg out time’ watching something light on Netflix (nothing heavy)
- time out from social media and devices
- nature helps calm my mind so I might try some of the suggestions under No. 2 above (plus in summer I like to float and swim in my pool)
- make sure I’m drinking enough water (helps reduce headaches and supports clearer thinking)
9. Tidy up and declutter
Messy and cluttered surroundings make my mind feel the same way. Sometimes a day of pottering around tidying and decluttering can feel very satisfying and helps clear my mind which in turn helps me to feel more in control and … better.
10. Eat healthy and nutritious foods
I’m not at all suggesting you diet – just to be mindful of what foods you put into your mouth as what you eat (and how much you eat) can have a direct affect on your health and wellbeing. Think of food as fuel and choose fuel that will be of benefit to you and not have the opposite effect. Try and eat a healthy, balanced, nutritional diet. There’s so many delicious foods that are healthy and nutritious so it’s not too hard. None of us are perfect though so don’t be hard on yourself. Having the right intention and doing the best you can most of the time is a good start.
There’s more I could add to the list above, but those would be my top 10. What would you add to the list?
I really do hope you’re not experiencing hard times right now but if or when you do, I hope that the 10 things I’ve listed might help you and someone else who reads this.
Ciao for now,
Linking up with Denyse Whelan’s ‘Wednesday’s Words and Pics‘
Great tips. I’d also add, find waysa to help. I often find that while the situation may be overwhelming, just finding ways to help even one or two people makes me feel better about it. I was so overwhelmed looking at the flood reports yesterday that I started googling trying to find what donations they were after. I couldn’t find any but I know someone with family in Eugowra so I messaged her to let me know if they were asking for anything. We may not be able to fix the problem, but we can help some people stuck in it…Good post. #WWandP
Thanks Lydia – yes I agree that helping others can be a way to not only help them but help yourself feel better too. The floods have been so devastating this year. Over and over again for so many people! x
All good points, Min. For me, when I get overwhelmed I need to take a step back and look at what areas of my life are robbing me of joy. It can be hard to say ‘no’ and limit our boundaries but we need to. As someone who loves to help others or be there for others, I also need to know when my energies are draining and take time out to recharge. #WWanP
Thanks Sue. I’m the same – so setting boundaries has become essential for me especially during challenging times when I need to reserve my energy to manage the load. Hope you’re having a great week!
Sending lots of positive energy your way, Min. I hope things settle down for you soon. In the meantime, thank you for this list of things that have helped you through. They are all excellent suggestions and many of them are self-care items that I do my best to incorporate in my daily life, including the good times, but are especially important during the hard times.
Thanks so much for your positive energy Christie! Great to hear you apply a lot of the self care suggestions within my post in your daily life. It’s a good habit to get into to help us feel good day to day but also because as you mentioned these things can really help us during hard times.
Hi Min – this post gave me a flashback to the post I wrote last week about coping with the curveballs leading up to my surgery. I always find it interesting to see how others cope when their world is out of order. It fascinated me that you go ‘inwards’ whereas I tend to go ‘upwards’ and turn my churning thoughts and upsets over to God. I guess we all realize that there’s nothing we can do physically to control an out-of-control situation, but we can look to our souls and our hearts and rest secure there.
Hi Leanne – gosh I’d never even thought about my post being similar to yours last week. Both mention curveballs but quite different posts from memory. I’ll have to go back and read yours again! It equally fascinates me that you go upwards where I go inwards! lol I was raised a Catholic and though I’m not a particularly religious person I do talk to God now and then. I thank him for things a lot and I ask him for things (never material things – usually things like strength or courage etc). However, when it comes down to it, I expect no miracles and the only person who can help me during times I find challenging is myself. This is why I go within – because I need to soul search and understand the intracacies and weaknesses that make me ME so that I can know how to manage myself better to cope when under stress.
A very empowering and insightful post Min. You are taking responsibility for caring for yourself and I so admire this. I too have been ‘late to that notion’ and have suffered ill-health and resentment which became anger in me. However, a lot of that has changed. I was the one who HAD to get myself sorted during the awfully anxious ridden times in 2014 into 2017. Hard yards in which I would do as you do such as walking, art and being in nature.
I have learned more about my ability to manage myself since having cancer and now into my moving on from it.
I admire you so much for your learning about you, which in turn makes it ‘easier’ to know how to self care. Thank you for linking up for Wednesday’s Words and Pics on my blog. Always good to see and read one of your posts. Hope you return next Wednesday too. Denyse.
I admire you Denyse. I cannot imagine how scary your cancer diagnosis and treatment would’ve been and all the subsequent check-ups after etc. You’ve been incredibly courageous and inspiring. I’m not sure I could be the same. I’m hoping I’ll get a post done in time for this coming Wednesday. Haven’t yet but I have an idea which I hope I can do. If not, I’ll try for the following week. xo
This was full of wise words and helpful suggestions Min. I hope things settle for you soon and you can take care of yourself in the meantime. I tend to go for a walk if I can when things get hard and my mind gets cleared while I walk. Having something to look forward to helps as you say. Take care x
Thanks Debbie. It’s been lots of things. Lots of worry that is always with me. Lots of things help but my mind is never clear these days. Always the worry is there. xo
so many great tips there Min. I am certainly trying to be mindful these days as i get older. Every little bit helps!
Thank you Sherry! I always hope that what I write might be helpful to someone in some way!
Comment gone?! Just saying this is all very helpful Min and I am trying to be mindful every day!
I got both your comments – thanks Sherry! Sometimes they take a while to appear for some reason.