There is only one way to eat an elephant, a bit at a time”
Life can be tough sometimes. Whether it’s health issues, personal or professional set-backs or financial problems, from time to time we all suffer. And we all have our own coping mechanisms to get us through the difficult times.
But sometimes coping doesn’t work. It’s just not that easy to carry on. In my experience it’s when when too many bad things happen all at once; in my darkest times, I just felt overwhelmed. The best way I can describe it was that my head felt was like a jug being filled with water. I was ok, until the water reached the brim. But once it got too full and started overflowing I went into meltdown, and couldn’t properly function.
For me at least this was when my usual “go to” strategies fell apart. Keeping going without changing the way I dealt with the world was no longer an option. Looking back, there is one thing though that has become very clear. Things don’t get better all at once; it’s a marathon not a sprint. The best way to dig out of the black hole is to accept that, deal with the issues one by one and be realistic.
Look for the easier problems to solve and ask for help
If there are some “quick wins” for you then tackle those. If you have finance problems speak to your bank and service providers. Be honest with family, friends and work about what is going on in your life and ask for their help in managing the situation. Go see your doctor if you are depressed. Just work out ways, one by one, to set you on a better track.
Asking for help is not weak – it is brave and a vital step to getting better. And if people offer to help (and they do) accept that help. They wouldn’t offer if they didn’t mean it.
Self care is vital
When we feel low we tend to adopt bad habits which only make the problems worse. So, think about self care, and make a few changes (one by one and slowly!). It might be improving your diet, getting a bit of exercise, getting to bed slightly earlier, less screen time, cutting a few people from your life temporarily (the ones who tend to make life more difficult – we all have them). It really doesn’t matter what you do – it’s all about starting somewhere.
Don’t beat yourself up if you fail at one thing – change something else instead, something that might be a little easier. Ánd make sure you find time to do nice things for you- see a movie, meet up with an old friend, just things that used to make you happy; they will do again.
Only tackle the big stuff when you feel ready
You need to be strong enough to deal with the really tough stuff, so don’t rush it. If other people are trying to force you to make decisions or take action and you don’t feel up to it then resist; don’t be bullied. Equally importantly, don’t bully yourself. Instead be kind to yourself and listen to your inner voice. Don’t try to solve the things you are not ready to face right now, a bit of time and space will help you get the perpective you need.
Remember the serenity statement
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference”
Focus on the things that are within your control. Wishing things you can’t control would go away is natural, but the more you can resist those thoughts the more energy you will have left for the stuff you can do something about. There is an alternative version of the serenity statement which I think is even more important to keep in mind when going through stresful times:
“Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the people I can and wisdom to know that is me”
All in all, just take it slow, deal with things one at a time, accept it might be a long haul, and take the best care of you along the way. Oh, and as someone who is trying to cut down on their meat consumption, I hope you will forgive the elephant analogy. However, “there’s only one way to eat texturized vegetable protein in the shape of a large pachyderm” didn’t quite have the same ring to it…