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When it rains, it pours.
Do you feel like you have lost yourself amidst the disasters in your life? Not only can you not find yourself, but you have lost your job, had a recent breakup, finances are in shambles, friendships rocky, and nothing seems to be in place.
NO matter how much you fight for getting things back on track, another part of your life seems to fall drastically apart. It can feel so hopeless and feel like you are running out of options.
During the economic fall in our economy, many people are facing multiple losses: finances, careers, business, home, ego, relationships, etc. Their entire lives seem to be falling apart all at once. From successful business owners to Doctors, from a full-time worker to a stay at home parent. This is one of the most challenging place for anyone to be in.
As a therapist, I get how this place in life can suck. But don’t give up! There is so much more you can do, you just have to scrape up some energy and get movin’.
Here are a few quick tips to help keep you stay afloat while life hands you lemons:
Take Control of what you Do have Control of: You can’t control the economy or other people. So don’t fight something that you can’t have control of. Instead, focus on what you DO have control of … YOU. Eat healthy foods, workout, listen to relaxing music, read positive books, and focus on keeping yourself put together. Basically, focus on improving you and loving you. You can’t fail here.
Set Daily Goals: If you are reading this, you probably understand how "down time" can often be the negative playground for your mind, where all you can see is darkness. Keep yourself from being in your head by setting daily goals. Schedule out your day with productive activities, such as cleaning, organizing a drawer, job hunting, reading self-help books, etc. The busier you are, the more in control you will feel. Set daily achievable goals … even for the small things in your day.
Avoid Self-Destruction: Even though everything else is falling apart, it doesn’t mean YOU must fall apart. Avoid throwing up your arms, giving up, and going down the self destructive path. Remind yourself to keep fighting and keep your eye on the goal to get back on track. Avoid random hook-ups, overlooking dangerous situations, or making stupid decisions.
Community Support: This is a time to use your community, get extra support from others. It could be from the gay community center to your church, from your soccer team to your facebook friends. Reach out for support to keep your head up and get help. Sometimes we can’t survive alone. Like the saying goes, "misery loves company." Find your supportive company.
SLOW DOWN: This may be a time when you want to rev up, make quick responses, and react for survival. Sometimes quick action is great, yet other times all it can do is hurt you because it wasn’t a methodical decision. Instead, think twice before acting. Avoid creating any more Tasmanian devil tornadoes (like snapping at a friend, sending angry text messages, or drinking to numb the pain) when upset and feeling overwhelmed. S-L-O-W D-O-W-N!
Avoid the Booze: Drinking may be a way to help relax or "take off some steam," but often it can cause worse problems. Alcohol tends to magnify emotions, remove communication "filters," numb out the pain, and impact judgments. Lay off the alcohol to prevent hurting yourself further. It won’t fix things, it will only temporarily numb it out.
Create Consistency: Once again, take control of the parts you do have control of … you. Create consistency and routine as best as you can. Go to bed at the same time each night (or better yet, sleep in your own bed each night). Start your day off with morning coffee, a run, or meditation. The more consistency, the better grounded you will feel.
Volunteer: You may want to shut down and give up, but don’t. Get involved to feel like you have a purpose, a place of meaning, and a place for contact with others. Feel in control and better about yourself when you give to others.
Jennine Estes is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego with a private practice in Mission Valley. She has appeared as a Relationship Expert in Redbook Magazine, Martha Stewart Publications – Whole Living Magazine, Social Work Today Magazine, San Diego local news stations, and more. To learn more relationship advice from the author Jennine Estes MFC#47653, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her San Diego Couples Therapy website.