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Mental Health

When Life Gives You Lemons: What to do When Everything Seems to Go Downwards

Was anyone else’s 2019 the worst possible year?

I find my social media feeds full of people either praising it as the best year of their life, or those who, like me, feel they have been sucker-punched by it.

It started in the spring, when I had to unexpectedly switch jobs for reasons I won’t get into here. Let’s just say it was a struggle, and it was a lot of unexpected stress, and it left me sleepless for two months.

Which is, in hindsight, probably part of the reason my then-boyfriend chose to walk out of our joint apartment, but definitely not all of it – I couldn’t have been pleasant company.

That meant moving, as I couldn’t pay the old rent myself with the new job. And then in late summer, both of my parents suddenly fell ill.

That one was the final blow, I think. How was I expected to deal with someone else’s life, when I couldn’t even handle my own?

Well, as the saying goes – I decided to make lemonade, with plenty of sugar, and screw the consequences.

Stick it out

Remember that whatever is going on in your life (even the best and the worst of it) is only temporary. Nothing in life (sadly) lasts forever, so whatever is going on now will be a thing of the past at some point in the future.

Try to think of something else that was unpleasant or even horrible a couple of years ago, and then find the good and pleasant things that have happened between then and now. That could give you the strength you need to ride out this wave.

There is no good without evil

Or, in other words, you can’t only live through the good parts. How would you know they were the good parts if you didn’t have something to compare them to?

Without wishing to be too philosophical about it, I firmly believe that the trying times are there to teach us how to appreciate what we have. They’re there to show us what our priorities in life really are, who our true friends are, and where we need to be going.

Do what you can

The one thing you can do to make the bad times better is: whatever you reasonably can.

When my parents suddenly had difficulty moving, I started researching how to prevent them from falling in the house. I started looking for doctors in their area. I started educating myself on the challenges they faced, in order to help them in whichever way I could.

When my boyfriend left, I got rid of anything that would have me thinking about him when I didn’t need to be thinking about him. I taught myself to refocus whenever I felt sad and lonely – and to stop making matters worse for myself.

The thing about the bad times is that they can be made so much worse by thinking and rolling around in them. Instead of moping around, try to do what you reasonably can to help things be better – and be better sooner. Other than that, just accept the pain and the hardship and ride it out. But never dwell on it.

Some of it won’t matter in a year

There are certainly lemons that will sting forever – but on the other hand, some we will forget about.

For instance, I expect myself never to be bothered by my old job by the end of this year. It was trying, it was testing, but every next job I have will just put distance between us, and it won’t matter that much again.

Identify these kinds of events in your own life and tell yourself they are big now, but that they will be small in a matter of months or years, so there’s no need to make them larger than they need to be.

After all, these events may not haunt you anymore, but losing sleep over them, making poor lifestyle choices as a reaction, and treating yourself poorly will leave more lasting marks.

And finally:

The most important thing you can do when things are going rough is to be kind to yourself. Or at least to not be unkind, for a start. Give yourself some credit, cut yourself some slack, and allow yourself to have really bad days. We all have them, and they are only a small bump on your road to living your best life.

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by Sarah K

Sarah is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows.

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