I’m not feeling sorry for myself, and I know I’m not the only one on the planet who has had trials and tribulations, but the fact is I’ve been through some of the hardest, scariest times of my life over the past 12 years. The situations I’ve encountered brought about in me some of the most intense negative emotions I’ve ever experienced including fear, anger, resentment, sorrow, loneliness, depression, and hopelessness to name a small handful. In fact, I am still dealing with the aftershock of those feelings and have suffered from post traumatic stress and anxiety as a result.
I am sure there are many people whom can relate to having some or all of these feelings. In case anyone is out there looking for some kind of relief that doesn’t involve making a weekly visit to a shrink, I wanted to capture some of the things that helped me deal with these scary feelings as I was experiencing them and also afterwards as I’ve tried to heal my wounds.
1) Pray. It doesn’t matter what religion you practice or don’t practice. Pray to your God, pray to your higher power, pray to the universe, or pray to yourself. I think this is helpful for three reasons: First, it allows you to confess your feelings and to get them out of your body. Keeping negative feelings bottled up only makes them worse. Secondly, I’ve experienced an indescribable sense of peace when I pray. Perhaps God is really bringing me peace, or perhaps it brings about a sense that nothing is in my control and that it is useless to worry. Third, while people have mixed feelings about prayer, what if it actually works? If there’s a chance it does, why not go ahead and ask for the things you want?
2) Listen to music. There are many reasons why music is a great form of therapy. It can take you on a journey so to speak and provide a temporary escape from life’s problems. When I want to relax, I might light a few candles and listen to anything new age (Enya comes to mind) for an instant calm. When I am angry, alternative metal does a great job of allowing me to vent my rage (Linkin Park’s “Break” is a great one). Pop or Country instantly puts me in a better mood (how can you not smile when listening to Pocket Full of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield?). Sometimes when I need encouragement or want to feel comforted I listen to or even sing hymns.
3) Exercise. Six years ago I joined the local gym and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I try to get there at least 3 or more times per week and try to get in 30 minutes of cardio each time. Among its many benefits, cardiovascular activity is a great way to relieve the stress in your body and also the stress in your mind. I find that I mentally process all sorts of things when I am on the treadmill or elliptical machine. Since exercise makes you physically stronger, it can mentally make you feel more capable of dealing with life’s problems. While sometimes I feel unmotivated and too exhausted to exercise, I find that when I push through it I sleep better and have more energy the following day.
4) Pamper yourself. Go ahead, get a manicure or pedicure, you deserve it! One pampering ritual that I’ve come to really enjoy is taking a simple bath. I turn on some spa music, light some candles, fill up the tub as high as it will go with super warm water, and sprinkle in some fragrant bath salts. There is nothing like it. Being enveloped in the warm water is particularly soothing and comforting when you are alone and don’t have anyone to hold you. Those times when I longed to be in someone’s arms but had no one to comfort me were times I would draw myself a relaxing hot bath.
5) Remember who you are. When my daughter was a teenager and acting out, she loved to tell me I was a bad mother. Her behavior had become out of control and I blamed myself and felt like a failure. Our relationship had become so strained and the turmoil caused me to entertain the notion that perhaps she was right. One day as I was talking with a friend feeling sorry for myself I received a good scolding. She told me not to be ridiculous and proceeded to tell me all the reasons why I was a good mother. From that moment on, when I started to feel bad about myself, I would repeat what she told me in my head. I was indeed a good a mother. If you are stuck in a situation that is making you feel bad about yourself, I encourage you to do some introspection and remember who you really are.
6) Take one day at a time. Life is a journey and in order to get to our destination we have to take one step at a time. Sometimes they are painful steps, but the important thing is to keep moving. Try not to focus on the past because it can’t be changed. It is futile to worry about tomorrow because no one knows what the future holds. Focus on what you can do in the present to improve or change your situation. Sometimes that means simply surviving and making it through another day. Each day gets you one step closer to the light at the end of the tunnel, even if you can’t see it yet.
Whatever life has dealt you, remember that it will pass. There is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel and if you have not found comfort in any of the ideas I’ve shared, perhaps they will inspire you to find your own ways to comfort yourself during your storm. In the meantime, here is a hug.