We all experience rough stretches in our life— times when we feel gloomy, defeated or fearful. How can we cope with difficult times? I’ve realized that no matter what our circumstance, there are things we can do. Read on to learn some of my tried-and-true ways to deal with life’s difficulties.
Name Your Fears
In the post What Do You Fear? a family faces the news of a loved one’s imminent death. A pastor guides them to name their fears, which has a steadying effect on panic. The fear doesn’t go away, but we can “tame” it if we name it. Are your fears paralyzing you? Perhaps saying your fear aloud with a friend (or to God, who always listens) will help you in times of crisis.
Remember God’s Presence
Worry, like fear, can paralyze us. When my friend Pat was struggling with cancer, she found her worries overtaking her day. One day, I helped her by posting her favorite Bible verses throughout her home. Looking at reassuring verses or quotations can help break the cycle of worry by reminding us: God is always with us.
Break It Down into a Formula
It’s helpful to remember that we have coped with difficult times in the past. And we can do so again. In Formula for Tough Times, Ron Buford offers a devotional that distills Psalm 126 into three specific actions the reader can take to remind themselves of how to cope.
Work It Out Through Walking
We all know that exercise helps reduce stress. But sometimes we feel too “down” to take positive action. That’s where a friend can really help you. Reach out to a friend, walk and talk together and your mood will lift. Dr. Paul Dudley White who is known as a pioneer of preventive cardiology, once said, “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”
Boost Your Mood by Helping Others
God’s mandate for us is to help our suffering neighbor. And there’s a wonderful side benefit to volunteering: helping others helps you too. Helping someone else gets our mind off our troubles, and it feels so good to help others! Something as simple as sending a text or calling a person who’s lonely can really push the “pause” button on gloomy thoughts.
When I get discouraged or anxious, I try one of these ideas to help myself cope with difficult times. May you find one or more of them to be useful as well.