10 Encouraging Ways to Cope and Live Well Through a Difficult Time

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It’s a crazy time and some days might feel scary and paralyzing all at once. We’ve all been through tough times before, but this situation feels so much more, doesn’t it? 

Whether you’re going through changes at work or job loss, worry about the health of your kids and family, or even the state of the world, you are not alone. 

Here are positive and helpful ways to cope during this difficult time.

How to get through tough times when you feel stuck

Woman sad and overwhelmed

I want to acknowledge that this whole situation is incredibly difficult. Each one of us is impacted in our very own life and our community, and I pray for everyone’s good health.

How life has changed in just a few short weeks. We’re now mastering social distancing and hand washing like nobody’s business!

Some of us are home schooling while others are working in essential services, to the benefit of all. Those on the front lines are true heroes.

As a society, we’re being asked to adapt as gracefully as possible, and we are. 

From my own experience as a Mom and wife, as small business owner, travel blogger, and educator, I know we need to give ourselves some grace as we navigate this unknown.

I think of the song “I will survive” and it makes me smile.

We WILL get through this. We are all in this together.

1. Allow yourself to feel some grief

I’m a pretty positive person, so it doesn’t feel totally natural for me to allow myself to feel bad. I actually have a tendency to want to suppress negative emotions.

However, I realized that allowing ourselves to these feel these unpleasant emotions is healthy. Feelings of anxiety, sadness, fear and loss – we are having a stress reaction to the sudden changes in our lives.

Our life has changed both suddenly, and a little more each day. Our jobs have changed and we may not be working right now. Our kids are home from daycare, school and college. Our travel plans have been canceled or postponed. Our income may be impacted.

In my own home we never celebrated my husband’s milestone birthday. Others have had their anniversary cruises cancelled. Children who are graduating school aren’t sure that they’ll have a grad party or prom.

I’ll admit, I’m an avid cruiser, and each time I read about someone’s long awaited vacation that’s cancelled, which was often a milestone celebration, it makes me feel sad. Life has suddenly changed.

It’s totally normal to feel a sense of grief and loss as this is happening in our lives right now.

Give yourself periods of time to wallow and even have a cry. Then try and move on to another step, even if you must return to this feeling again.

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2. Find the positive – start a journal or do daily affirmations

How can we even begin to “think positive” when a lot of things just aren’t good?

Even with the genuinely difficult things about this situation, we just can’t function well if we allow feeling badly to consume us all the time. So, we need to look for the positive and highlight it so that it becomes more evident to us.

My good friend who is a front line nurse messaged me early on with a photo, when I asked how she was doing.

She was drinking a coffee from a mug we had given her years before that said “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

Remember when this was just a trendy meme?

She meant it though. Each day she goes to work and the days are tough. She comes home and still cares for her family, and she keeps carrying on. She also texts some jokes because we need to find the joy through this.

Working at ways to find the positive during this time will help. In reality, we probably all have positive things that are happening despite this situation.

Emotional self-care tips

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1. Start a gratitude journal, or simply jot down something every day that went well, and that you’re happy about.

If you pray or talk to the universe in some way, ask for what you want and hope for – including for everyone’s health, for freedom to go to the park once again, for dinners with close friends, and for prosperity in your business during tough times.

2. Say some positive daily affirmations. Give yourself a pat on the back for the good things you do and the person you are.

This might sound a bit out there, but you know how getting positive feedback or a compliment from someone you respect feels really good and uplifting? You can do this for yourself and it works just as well. Do this often and your mind and body will feel it.

3. Take on a project you’ve been putting off

This isn’t about being efficient or productive. Rather, taking on even a small project gives you focus on something you can control. It also distracts you from the day to day grind we’re going through.

For those of us that don’t have many hobbies, this might be hard. However, it can be as simple as cleaning our and organizing the kitchen or master bathroom.

My husband and I decided last Saturday that we were going to step away from our computers and phones, and do a big clean up and organization of our master bedroom and spare bedroom. It had been lingering for weeks, and we always felt to busy to tackle it. 

Our minds literally forgot all on the outside as we put some things in bags for charity, moved some furniture, and cleaned and dusted. At the end of it and throughout the next day, we physically felt better.

There’s probably a case for decluttering, but that’s a story for another day 😉

4. Call people more often

This social distancing can take it’s toll. While we can’t be physically close together right now, text a friend and ask to talk for 15 minutes. It’s amazing how talking connects us.

Have a virtual get together with friends or even chat on Zoom with colleagues or online friends. We need our human connectionsnow  more than ever. It’s interesting I’ve found, that during all of this, we find that we really are all in this together.

Italy, Spain, Singapore, the United States, Israel, France, the UK, Canada… and more. We are all going through many of the same things, and we can help each other by sharing our experiences.

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5. Cook or bake

Many of us our home more now and there’s an opportunity to cook and prepare more homemade meals and snacks.

Cooking and baking at home can help to bring warm feelings and help us to remember that in many ways we have all we need. We can even recreate some dishes from our travels, which always evoke positive thoughts and memories.

If you are living with a little less income right now, it’s also a good way to spend less money. Keep your home stocked with chicken breasts and other favorite meats or fish, cans of tomatoes, frozen vegetables, rice, pasta, eggs and cook some old and new recipes.

When shopping at Costco a couple of weeks ago, I actually picked up some cooked rotisserie chickens as they are such a great value. I froze some of the chicken, knowing that I could use the bones to make chicken soup, which my family loves. As well, I made small baggies to freeze of about 2 cups of chicken pieces for stir-fries, chicken salad and other recipes.

If you’re trying to go out less during this time, you may enjoy this article about shopping only once a month.

6. Take a break from social media

If you’re feeling mentally a bit heavy, you may need a social media break, even if for a few hours or a day or two.

I often feel like as a society, we talk about the negatives of social media. However for many, Facebook and Instagram are a way to connect with others who are like minded, as well as keep “entertained” as we scroll, laugh at memes or view articles.

This isn’t a bad thing, especially when we are socially distancing (or at least physically distancing) from people in daily life.

However, hours can pass as we stay on Facebook, and maybe you get anxious as you read about the world. This is when you need to get away from it and take a mental vacation from social media.

I’m a travel blogger, and being honest, I love connecting with others online. However, I’m making a conscious effort to put my phone away both while I am working and writing, like now, and when I am feeling like I need a total break from the digital world.

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7. Allow yourself 3 trusted news sources (local, national, world)

In regular times, I personally don’t watch or listen to the news. My husband and I have a little joke – I tell him that he’s responsible for telling me the big stuff.

The reason I block out a lot of news on a regular basis, is so I can think and focus my mental energy where I want it to go. Usually, this serves me quite well and actually gives me more control. But these aren’t usual circumstances.

In this time, I feel like I need to hear the news to be informed, to assess risk, and to keep positive. It might seem strange that the news we are getting can help me or you to stay positive, but I have a little formula and a bit of a life hack.

I allow myself 3 news sources.

  1. I follow my local government’s updates daily. In our community we have a Facebook page, and someone provides a cliff note version of the provincial updates every day (like a State). It’s amazing. 5 minutes and I’ve got the news as well as an assessment as to how we are doing locally
  2. Follow the National news. This might be tougher for all of us, but it’s a good way to understand what’s going on in neighboring states and communities. I would urge you at this time not to allow rhetoric and political commentary to seep in. It’s hard, but at the beginning and end of every day, we are really all in this together.
  3. Finally, the world news lets us know how different countries are dealing with the situation, and it can give us hope. We can learn of areas that are seeing progress and this is hopeful. We can learn of new studies and medicines and treatments. We can learn of measures taken elsewhere that could be helpful for us.

8. Embrace your kid’s boredom (which will turn to creativity)

Mom and kids working from home 6 x 4

This is where my educator voice comes out. Being bored is great! It allows creativity like nothing else.

When my kids were young and they told me they were bored, I actually responded in a happy tone “That’s amazing! Now you have so many choices of what to do. Lucky you!”.

I would make some small suggestions, but truly not much. If you don’t already, set up a space with paper and glue and scissors. Add in things you have around the house like yarn, and recyclable items. Toilet paper rolls actually make good bracelets, noisemakers and totem polls.

We have internet and there are amazing websites where kids can learn about animals like National Geographic, and even different things on YouTube. If they’re interested in something, grab a notebook and encourage the to write a project or even a book about it.

Is there an extra mobile phone in the house? Encourage them to lipsync and put on a show, or create their own play and act it out and film it.

There’s no rulebook for this time, so put less stress on both you and your kids and explore the possibilities.

9. Find good shows on Netflix and embrace un-productivity

It’s ok not to be productive if you’re not feeling it. It’s ok to escape and just sit down and binge watch a series with your husband or kids.

Find funny or inspirational movies or documentaries to escape , be inspired and enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with some healthy distractions at this time.

Apparently we’re due to watch Tiger King soon. I’m not sure that it’s my thing, but a distraction it is! Plus, my husband and son want to watch it, so I’ll sacrifice ;-).

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10. Picture the world being a better place

Close your eyes and imagine what you want things to look like in a few months from now. Imagine the happiness as you get together with friends and watch your kids play team sports again. Imagine how you’ll feel when you’re back at the beach on your next vacation, heading to get ice cream.

Picture you and your family being healthy, and your business feeling prosperous again.

We will get through this, but since we have never lived it before, it can be hard to have faith when there is unknown. Not knowing fully the path and potential twists and turns can leave us feeling confused and anxious.

However, we can look to history to know with a high degree of certainty, that although this is difficult, we are more than capable of surviving this. We may even come our better.

These positive thoughts will bring this day to us sooner. We can call it manifesting or praying, but studies show that having a positive mindset helps us to find solutions, and the world needs this now.

Final thoughts: 10 Encouraging Ways to Cope and Live Well Through Challenging Times

There’s no question that we’re all going through tough times right now. One thing we do know, is that people are resilient, and we can make it through the challenges that we’re facing.

How have you been able to keep positive in this difficult situation or even during hard times you’ve faced in the past? What tips are you using to cope during this time?

Ilana xoxo

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