Things to do when life feels hard

Kuan Yin the Buddhist Goddess of compassion; her name means “Perceiving the Cries of the World.”

I was visiting with a dear friend this past weekend who shared she’s battling depression. “It comes and it goes. But when it returns, I often freeze and forget what helps me most; all my great self-care practices fly right out the window,” she said. I could relate. Last week I had a bomb dropped on me at work that sent me reeling into a vortex of anger and betrayal. And while I teach, practice and evangelize about the practice of self-care, for the first 24 hours after this incident, I was paralyzed. Everything I knew about taking sweet care of myself was off sunning on a remote island.

Can you relate? I think we all know what helps us “feel good fast” (both the healthy and unhealthy habits) but when our body and brain get triggered by big, bold, old emotions, we revert to a primal state.

But, good news. There are several simple, nurturing self-care practices that can bring us back to our innate well-being quite quickly.

Here are six things to do when life feels hard:

Get grateful. Voicing what we’re grateful for heightens our mood, floods our body with endorphins, shifts and broadens how we see the world and supports us in remembering what really matters. It’s a gift that can be accessed anytime, anywhere and it’s free.

Go outside.  Time in nature is often referred to as the ultimate antidepressant because it affects us physically, mentally and emotionally. A date with Mother Nature reduces stress, enhances our mood/overall mental health, helps us to “reset,” promotes cognitive abilities, fosters problem solving and creativity, supports work/life balance, stimulates social interactions and enhances family connection and intimacy. Read Nature: The Ultimate Anti-depressant.

Move your body …breathe. Ever heard the phrase, “the issues are in the tissues” …? Most of us need all the help we can get to move out of our heads and into our bodies. Go to a yoga, Nia or qi gong class, take a hike, walk around the block or in your parking lot at work-just move and breathe! One of my favorite breathing exercises is equal parts breathing (so detoxifying and calming for our systems!). Breathe in for three-hold for three-exhale for three. Try this yoga-style, through your nose, with your mouth closed.

Ask for help. People who are comfortable asking for and receiving help—whether it’s from a coach, therapist, mentor, professional organization, business partner, neighbor, friend or colleague—experience greater success and feel more connected and confident in all areas of their lives. Learning to ask for and receive help can be one of the most important skills you can cultivate AND it can open you up to all kinds of new perspectives. Having a support system can make all the difference in how you experience the journey. Read more.

Do less. We’re entering a whole new frontier that requires us to find more space to breathe, think, dream, and digest. We’re craving more time to just be — so we can actually integrate into our hearts and souls what’s happening moment to moment. The more choices and decision we have, the less happy we are. Over-doing keeps us from experiencing life in the moment and is taxing to our well-being. Read Do less …and experience more.

Feel to heal. The more we’re able to just be with what we’re feeling, the more we’re able to heal from old wounds. When we “feel our feelings,” we become more open and accessible to our loved ones, we’re more connected to our passions and desires, we become comfortable voicing our needs and drawing clear boundaries, we begin to harvest the gifts that come from living with the light and the dark and contrary to what we might think—we actually begin to feel more alive and less fearful. Read Feeling=Healing: 4 Ways to Begin.

Be kind. Always be kind. You don’t know what battles your brothers and your sisters in the grocery store lines, on the playground and in the cube next to you, are waging. This is a time to move a little slower, lighten our loads and not be so ambitious. People first, things second. Let me know how I can support you.

TAKE ACTION: Many of my friends/clients/family are really struggling right now; I’d love to support you.  Join me for a FREE “mini retreat” via phone this Wed., March 9th from 12-12:50 p.m. CST on Self-Care Practices for Uncertain Times. Call 712-432-0075; code: 898817.  No need to rsvp; you are welcome to participate or just listen in (everyone will be muted). We’ll post the recording on Facebook Live Inside Out the next day. Alternatively, if you’re wanting personal, immediate support from me for the whole month, check out my Life Balance Teleclasses which are self-paced and available 24/7.

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering life balance workshops/retreats, training, books/telecourses and individual career coaching Renee’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal group based on her award-winning curriculum.  She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 13 year-old son. More on her background here.

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