Life can be really super tough at times. A friend of mine is going through some really horrible things in her life. She is struggling with just getting out of bed in the mornings. This is one of the worse things she can do right now– become sedentary and isolated.
Last week, I was in the midst of anxiety myself. I wanted to find medication to make it go away. Instead, I went to the salon and bleached my hair. I looked at myself and I was a new person! The visual imagery was a huge ego boost. I felt more confident and some of my anxiety waned.
Me before hair. After chemo, I lost all my hair and wore a wig. But I’m done with that and it’s just me and the short, grey hair. I felt like an old lady. The next day, I got it bleached. I felt like a whole new person– edgy, fun, strong and bad-ass.
The next day, I went for a walk/run. I am still very weak from some wicked chemo back in November and December and I am fighting to get stronger. On this run/walk, I felt fantastic. I pushed myself harder than I have in months and instead of wanting to whimper, I felt strong and empowered. Was it the new hair that gave me strength? Maybe.
Anyway, I sent my struggling friend an email pep talk with some tips on how I have coped with some really stressful events in my life, which include a horrific divorce and cancer. They work surprisingly well. Here are, according to Lizzy Smith, the 10 worse things you can do when life gets tough:
1 Get inadequate sleep
Getting the proper amount of sleep is essential for your mental and physical strength. If you’re getting too much or too little, that’s not good. Too much sleep can be a sign of depression or a whole host of physical ailments. Too little sleep can leave you irritated, sick, and prone to making really bad decisions. To aid in getting proper sleep, make your bedroom conducive to rest. This means make sure it gets dark enough (buy room-darkening shades if you must), and you have a comfortable place to sleep. Other ways to make your bedroom a peaceful place is to clean it up, put fresh linens on your bed, and diffuse essential oils that are calming to the senses (lavender is my favorite). I also love a good hot bath before bedtime because it helps make me sleepy.
2 Isolate yourself
It is tempting to throw a (solo) pity party when life goes awry. But the less you fall into this behavior, the better. Go out with friends, walk a dog, volunteer at your child’s school, join an exercise class (like yoga)… Whatever you do, get out of the house and interact with others.
3 Let yourself go (physically)
When I look awful, I feel awful, too. Make an effort to get out of bed, take a shower, put on clean clothes that are flattering, and do something with your hair. For a terrific pick-me-up, try a new hairstyle or color. Visit a makeup counter and learn some new makeup techniques. Buy a new perfume and use it. If it fits the budget, engage in some retail therapy. But a new outfit outside your comfort zone. Bright, bold colors lift the spirit so if you need to start with small steps, try a new color on your toenails and get braver from there.
4 Fail to break a sweat
Getting a good workout in is super empowering. Break a sweat and do something that leaves you breathless (literally). Hiking, biking, walking or a spin class—do something that you love.
5 Stop having fun
When is the last time you did something that you absolutely loved? Or something that made you smile or laugh out loud? Try something new—like skydiving or get scuba-certified. (The day before I checked into the hospital to begin intensive chemo, I went skydiving for the first time. I screamed and laughed. I lived in the moment. I experienced total joy. Yay for me, I deserved it. And so do you.) Look online and find something in your area that you’ve never done and do it. Maybe there are natural hot springs you can hike to and soak in. Perhaps there are new baby animals at the zoo. Do something amazing. If you’re not sure what that is, sit down and start brainstorming on paper (it’s called a Bucket List). Then get to work having fun.
6 Eat poorly
Food choices can vastly alter moods. Try eating super healthy, organic, delicious foods and you will soon notice a huge difference mentally. Get some new recipes and try them. Better yet, incorporate ingredients you’ve never tried before.
7 Not pay attention to real symptoms
If you haven’t had a good physical lately, schedule one. Make sure you get regular mammograms, paps, a colonoscopy, and occasional blood work. This is how my cancer was discovered—I was basically without symptoms and a good random physical picked up alarming abnormalities. And it saved my life. Listen to your body and see a doctor if you notice anything amiss. Be proactive and be your own biggest health advocate.
8 Live among dirt and clutter
Spend a day or weekend cleaning and decluttering your home. Dust, scrub and wash. You will feel far better emotionally if your physical surroundings are in order.
9 Become boring
Now is the time to become “interesting” (if you aren’t already!). Start paying attention to current events, read a book on a topic you know nothing about, go to a museum, take a class. Do something that stretches your mind and gives you more depth as a person. You will be surprised at how your self-esteem will get a big boost.
10 Never go on vacation
Getting out of town is a necessity. Plus, you can accomplish many of the items listed above when you get out of your home and go somewhere different. If your budget allows, go somewhere far away. Experience a new country or culture. If you can’t do that, visit your parents or a friend. While on vacation, use this as a a time to rest, get exercise and try something new. Rejuvenate.
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