No matter how hard you try or how badly you wish you could, you cannot control every single aspect of your life: the flat tire you got this morning, your unraveling relationship, the sudden mass layoffs at work. Sure, you can hope for the best, but I recommend instead preparing for the worst. Now, I’m not saying to adapt a pessimistic attitude—just that you should put a plan in place for when life gets tough. Licensed Clinical Social Worker Shawna Murray-Browne says implementing the following six practices will help you find your peace when life proves difficult:
1) Practice deep belly breathing.
Browne’s first tip for staying grounded when life tries to knock you down is to practice deep belly breathing. “Practicing simple, belly breaths (or diaphragmatic breathing) is a powerful way to calm yourself in overwhelming moments,” she says. “Doing this literally sends a message to your brain, and it travels to your entire body. It’s a simple mindful practice that can be practiced for a few moments or for extended periods of time in meditation.”
2) Connect with positive people.
Have you ever heard the saying, “You are the company you keep”? This is an accurate statement, as the people you surround yourself with have a tremendous impact on your path and wellbeing—especially during the difficult times, as explained by Browne: “When you’re feeling particularly vulnerable, surrounding yourself with people who will highlight other reasons you should be overwhelmed is a bad move. Instead, think about who in your life tends to focus on the good things, offers helpful advice, and has the kind of personality that is infections. It can really impact your outlook.”
3) Watch inspirational videos.
When I’m feeling down, I seek comfort in one of my favorite people in the entire world: Ellen DeGeneres. She can put a smile on my face like no other, with her selfless acts and clever humor. Tuning into her show or watching a couple of her videos online helps me find my footing again—and it could help you too. “YouTube is bustling with inspirational videos from regular folks and celebrity nuggets,” Browne explains. “Listening to others share positive outlooks in the world and life can support a shift in the negative self-talk that keep us stuck in the chaos.”
4) Talk about the tough stuff.
If you have a hard time talking about your feelings, I can relate. Let’s learn to open up together, as it’s incredibly important for our wellbeing. “Whether it’s a licensed mental health professional or your closest, supportive friends, processing your thoughts and emotions in a safer place can help you let it go, cry it out (if you want to), feel heard, and truly find the calm,” says Browne. “Working with a therapist or counselor can have an added benefit of teaching you useful skills to coping when your life happenings are really intense.”
5) Stay off (or alter) your newsfeed.
If you’re struggling to feel enlightened or excited about life, then try something new! You could challenge yourself to do something new each day, like taking a different route to work or making a new recipe—or you could pick up a new hobby like martial arts or baking and incorporate that new, fun activity into every day. It’s important to spice up your life every now and then!
Browne’s last and perhaps simplest tip is to remain active: “Moving your body is not only a great and healthy distraction, but exercise literally releases the tension you’ve been holding onto from your muscles. Our bodies absorb all of our emotions, and exercise pumps your endorphins to help you feel good.” I know from personal experience that exercise is incredibly therapeutic—if anything can help you find peace when life throws you a curveball it’s exercise. So find something you enjoy doing, whether it be running, lifting weights, doing yoga, or even dancing in your living room, and then make it a priority. I guarantee you’ll find it to be a beneficial routine activity.