How to pick yourself up when life brings you down

So often in my life I have felt drained, anxious, negative, stressed and down. I have tortured myself with negative self-talk and have let fear dictate my actions and decisions. Sound familiar? I bet everyone reading this has felt at least one of those things in their life. Sometimes life brings even the best of us down to our knees.

Now, looking back over these dark times I completely understand how powerful the mind is. While it can be your best friend if you look after it, it can also be your worst enemy. We spend so much time in life looking after our physical body; healthy eating, going to the gym, stopping smoking, the list goes on. Can you honestly say you send as much time and dedication on the thing that needs it most, your mind?

When we look after our mind, everything changes for the better.

The key is to understand that no matter what happens, you can choose your attitude and actions. Truly, the greatest weapon against stress, upset, anxiety and depression is our ability to choose our response. We can learn to train our minds to make the best of what we’ve got, even when it’s less than we expected.

It is not easy and it takes time, but let’s take a look at a few strategies that do work and you can use to take your first steps:

1. Create breathing space.

STOP EVERYTHING! Breathe deeply, feel every breath. In through the nose, hold for six seconds, out through the mouth, repeat until you feel your heart beat slow down.

Free your mind from everything around you, if you feel your mind wandering back to everything you need to do, think of a train going over your left shoulder, throw these thoughts onto that train to create a clear head space. Doing so creates space for a change of state – for something new and positive to enter.

Don’t say you don’t have time to pause.  Yes, you have battles to fight, insecurities to overcome, loved ones to contend with, and goals to achieve, but a momentary break from it all is necessary.  It’s perfectly healthy to pause and let the world spin without you while you compose yourself.

Do this every day. Your mind is your own weapon and to fight your daily battles you need your weapon to be sharp.

2. Stop resisting.

You might be surprised by how often you subconsciously resist life.

Resistance creates a tension in our bodies and unhappiness in our lives.  A couple names Mark and Angel recommend this simple strategy when I was struggling to relieve myself of my resistance and tension:

  • Locate the tension in your body right now.
  • Notice what you’re resisting and tensing up against – it might be a situation or person you’re dealing with or avoiding.
  • Relax the tense area of your body – deep breath and a quick stretch often helps.
  • Face the same situation or person, but with a relaxed body and mind.

Repeat this practice as often as needed.  Face the day with less tension and more presence.  Change your mode of being from one of struggle and resistance to one of peace and acceptance.

3. Find the beauty behind the pain.

When a close friend of mine died, the pain was so intense it hot me like a ton of bricks, I felt like I could not breathe. Once I was over the initial shock I took a step back and realised that while she was gone, I was not. The pain I felt helped me to appreciate life more, to appreciate the lives of those I’ve lost, and to appreciate the priceless time we have with our loved ones.

As human beings, we see, death is an ending, which is a necessary part of living.  And endings are necessary for beauty too, otherwise it’s impossible to appreciate someone or something, because they are unlimited. Death is also an opportunity to celebrate a person’s life, and to be grateful for the priceless beauty they showed you.

I now choose to find beauty even when it’s buried beneath problems and pain.  You can do the same.

Like my Dad always says – “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened’

4. Let go and start again.

Everything in life has to come to an end eventually.  It’s important to appreciate and accept the end of an era and to walk away sensibly when something has reached its inevitable conclusion, however painful that may seem at the time.  What matters is that you leave the past where it belongs so you can make the best of the life that’s presently available to be lived.  This ending is not THE END, it’s just your life beginning again in a new way.  It’s a point in your story where one chapter fades into the next.

You can have a fresh start whenever you choose. The world is always bigger than your viewpoint of it. Right now there’s plenty of room for a new idea, a new step and a new beginning!

Good luck!