Sometimes I want to take a shower and scrub. I want to exfoliate and clean myself on the inside. I want the heat to burn and take off the layers of hurt that have built up upon me. I want to soap out my mouth. Sluff off my skin. I want out of these uncomfortable shoes.
Have you felt like this in life? Where it did not turn out as you expected? Maybe you got a divorce and your ex-husband married, and it appears they have the perfect life when you are home barely making it. Maybe you are in a job you hate and it’s bringing out the worst in you. Maybe you lost a parent or sibling or child, and you just want the days to end.
Most can relate to this feeling—that there are moments you want to scrub away the hurt. But you can’t. You just end up with waterlogged fingers by being in the bath too long. The water turns cold. That alcohol-infused sleep just turns into a hangover. So, how do you cope with the hard things in life? Here are seven suggestions on how to face life’s hard experiences—and survive!
1. Realize that Life is Full of Hard Things and See This is a Universal Truth
One of the most difficult things to do is let go of expectations. “This is not how I thought it would be!” you say to yourself at night. You’re right. It’s not. And yet it’s the way it is. Accepting this is the first step toward healing.
2. Learn to Laugh (Even When it Seems There is Nothing to Laugh About)
When you want to throw your life out of a plate-glass window, there is nothing more cathartic than being with friends and laughing. Whether it’s going to listen to comedy, being with people that are funny, or seeking ways to make fun of the tragic comedy of your own life, laughter can heal. Slowly, methodically, infuse this medicine into your daily routine.
3. Seek Therapy
Talking about your problems make them more tangible, and you can develop coping skills to manage them and find meaning in life despite these things. You can see how much progress you’re actually making. And if you find a therapist that’s not helpful, or you leave more frustrated than you came, find someone else. This is your life and your health and your wallet—find someone who can help you pass through this hard time to a better place. This isn’t your cousin you have to tolerate at Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t have to put up with them because they came recommended. You’re paying for the service, so make sure it’s a good fit.
4. Get Outside
The sun on your face, the light of the day, the clean and fresh feeling of having the wind in your hair—these things are therapeutic. And if it’s too windy, it starts to rain on your walk, a bug flies into your mouth, and you fall on the sidewalk and twist your ankle, that’s quite funny. Because really? See (2) above.
5. Feed Your Body Fuel, Not Crap
Think of food as a way to cleanse. The more sugar and carbs you put into your body, the more you’ll crash later. If you eat more protein, more sustaining foods that give you energy and power, you won’t fall even deeper into a pit of depression. Also adding in positive supplements—a powerful B12, some Vitamin D, St John’s wort—can work to boost your spirit. If you start to eat a little healthier and eat better, you can say “well sure I lost my job and my dog has cancer BUT NOW I FIT INTO MY SKINNY JEANS AND I CHOSE KALE.” I mean, it’s something. Give yourself that.
I think one of the hardest lessons in life is to actually feel the pain you’re in. There are so many ways to “escape” from whatever hard reality you’re facing. But sometimes the only way to get past it is straight through. Have a long cry. Look at the pictures. Mourn the loss of your expectations. Talk about how hard it is and give yourself the freedom to feel it. Afterward, you have purged something inside of you. And you can start to work on things to fill that space. Things that are life-giving and positive.
7. Let Go
Let go of expectations. Let go of trying to control the world around you. Let go of other people, since you can’t control them. Let go of the remote control and bag of Doritos, because you’ve watched too many Netflix originals and you need a shower. Let go and let the water, air, and love wash over you. It will indeed get better.
Amanda Hill finished her first novel and an adapted screenplay and is currently working out her stress with satire. For more real-life funny from Amanda follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.