Going through tough times is an inevitable part of life. We all face challenges, setbacks, heartbreaks, and adversity. When you’re struggling, it’s easy to feel defeated, depressed, and hopeless. However, there are strategies you can implement to cope with difficulties in healthier and more productive ways. With the right mindset and perspective, you can emerge more robust, wiser, and resilient from tough times.
In this article, we’ll explore 11 key things to remember when you find yourself amid trials and tribulations. Implementing these tips can help reframe your perspective, rediscover meaning and gratitude, and set you on personal growth.
1. Stay Present and Take Things One Day at a Time
When times get tough, it’s easy to lose yourself in regrets about the past or worries about the future. This rumination can fuel anxiety and depression. Instead, practice staying grounded in the present moment. Focus on getting through one day at a time without judging yourself or catastrophizing. Celebrate small wins and moments of peace or beauty. Staying present can help center and calm you.
For example, you could start each morning by listing three things you are grateful for today. This simple practice redirects your mind to the blessings around you.
2. Look for Lessons and Opportunities for Growth
Every challenge you face holds valuable lessons if you shift your perspective. Rather than being a victim of circumstance, think about what this experience is trying to teach you. How can you emerge wiser, stronger, and more self-aware? Difficulties also present opportunities to develop resilience, persistence, mindfulness, and compassion skills. Look for ways to grow.
James was laid off from his corporate job, which was initially devastating and scary. However, it taught him the importance of building transferable skills and creating multiple income streams. He started his own business, which was more fulfilling and financially rewarding.
3. Focus on What You Can Control
It’s easy to fixate on external factors you can’t control, like other people or situations. This leads to chronic stress and hopelessness. Instead, redirect your focus inward on the things within your power – your perspective, habits, and actions. Internal locus of control reduces anxiety and empowers you. Manage your thoughts, attitudes, responses, and behaviors.
For instance, Sara’s husband walked out on their marriage unexpectedly. Instead of fixating on his actions or trying to control his choices, she focused on caring for herself, processing her emotions healthily, and building a solid support system.
4. Practice Regular Self-Care
In tumultuous times, self-care is crucial. Don’t allow challenges to consume your whole life. Make time for restorative activities like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, exercising, enjoying hobbies, and connecting with supportive loved ones. Prioritize your mental, emotional, and physical health, which fortifies your resilience when faced with hardship.
Carlos made sure to engage in self-care rituals like cooking healthy meals, reading fiction books, and playing basketball with friends to relieve stress after losing his job. This helped him stay balanced.
5. Adjust Your Expectations
When you’re struggling, it’s easy to put added pressure on yourself and get disappointed over what you can’t do or achieve right now. Adjust your expectations to be more reasonable and compassionate. Accept where you’re currently at, knowing it’s just a phase. Dramatically easing expectations can immediately reduce strain.
Jenna is usually highly productive and active, but a bad chronic illness flare-up forced her to adjust expectations. She focused on doing what she could and learned to be gentler with herself.
6. Actively Seek Out the Positive
Even in the darkest times, there are always things to appreciate: loved ones, nature, music, etc. Intentionally seek out these glimmers of light and savor the good. Keep a gratitude journal, share positive experiences, and look for beauty around you. This builds and reinforces neural pathways for hope, comfort, and joy.
When Cheryl’s son was undergoing cancer treatments, she actively looked for positive moments – like happy nurses, sunsets during drives home, and her son’s laughter. Focusing on these blessings healed her spirit.
7. Connect with Your Support Systems
Don’t isolate yourself in times of hardship. Reach out to supportive loved ones, friends, mentors, counselors, support groups, religious communities, and other resources. Getting support, guidance, and comfort from others is critical during trials. You don’t need to go through this alone.
Serena made sure to meet up with friends regularly, call her parents, and see a therapist to process her grief after a miscarriage. Her support system gave her strength and hope.
8. Maintain Perspective of the Bigger Picture
It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re stuck in the weeds of a challenge. Try to zoom out and remember that this is just one chapter in the bigger story of your life. How does this fit into the larger scheme of things? What is this experience preparing you for? Maintaining a macro perspective reduces tunnel vision thinking.
Losing his job devastated Mark at the moment, but looking back years later, he realized it led him to find work he was genuinely passionate about and meet his wife soon after. It fits into a much larger picture.
9. Believe You Will Get Through This
Hold faith that you have the strength and resources to weather this storm. Visualize yourself on the other side, where you’ve grown, learned, and become more resilient. When you believe in yourself and your ability to overcome challenges, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Have confidence in your inner fortitude.
May had a difficult childhood full of trauma but always told herself she was strong and would make it through. As an adult, her belief in herself has helped her overcome countless life adversities and thrive.
10. Take Small Steps Forward
When you’re overwhelmed, even small acts of progress count – getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, doing one load of laundry, and accomplishing tiny goals give a sense of control and positive momentum. You’ll soon be closer to your bigger goals by sticking enough small wins together.
Sara was paralyzed by depression but began taking tiny steps like washing five dishes daily or reading for 15 minutes. These small acts built momentum and eventually helped her work through it.
11. Have Faith and Perspective
Remember that you are not alone in your struggles. Millions before, you have been where you are and have made it through to the other side. Have faith in God/the universe/a higher wisdom. Trust that the path will be revealed, even if you can’t see it yet. Know that the lessons you learn will help others down the line.
Jim was laid off during the pandemic, which triggered intense anxiety about providing for his family. His religious faith reminded him that God would show him the way and everything would work out. This belief got him through.
Tough times are inevitable, but they are temporary. These strategies and perspectives can help you cope and grow through the challenges. Have faith in your abilities. This, too, shall pass. On the other hand, you will be wiser and more robust.