What Do You Do When Things Get Tough?


For World Mental Health Day, we asked our fantastic group of volunteers what they do when things get tough in their life. We hope their responses will inspire you on your mental health journey.

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Andreas V: I do talk to friends. I try to ground myself, using music, or connecting with people. I think it helps to have a set of core values, am identity, some degree of answer to "this is who I am.’’

Stacey J: Be patient with myself and remind myself that it is temporary.

Maria H: I like to read. Finding books that have use old words in surprising ways helps me to see things differently.

Adam N: When things get tough I try to remember times in my life when things were difficult and how I overcame them. Life's difficulties are only temporary and there is so much beauty to see and experience to let that be dimmed by a moment (regardless of how long it is). I try to find the positivity in every single day and not let myself get consumed in the situation or feeling regardless of how negative. Meeting friends, taking a walk, reading a book, simply sitting in nature, observing the art/architecture in the streets, dancing, or eating ice cream... There's always something!

Brianna W: I either fall back on my psychology training and use techniques from that, but that’s hard to explain in specifics and details. I guess the easiest thing I could say is something my mom taught me which is the “5 rule.” Is this going to matter in 5 mins, 5 hours, 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 months, 5 years? If it doesn’t make it past 5 weeks then it usually isn’t worth getting upset about. And if it doesn’t make it to months it doesn’t deserve more than a week or so effort trying to resolve. If it’s 5 months or years then focus on it step at a time in order to solve it.

Stephanie S: When things get tough over here I usually start with writing down what's in my head and then take a look at it. I do breath work and I meditate. If it gets really tough I reach out to my loved ones.

Michelle H: Talk with my spouse, who I trust more than anything. If he’s not there, I write to process my emotions and use self-forgiveness.

Martina P from iamgood: When things get tough, I have a lot of go to methods. It all depends on how tough things are, how much time I have, where I am and the situation. First, I asked myself is it actually tough or is it a blessing in disguise? Can I have hindsight now? And often times I think back to other times I all too quickly labeled as "tough" and remember that I’m tougher and that the situation can be relabeled as a challenge often times. The relabeling helps me enter into a new mindset, as I love a good challenge and it gives it a sort of fun, competitive spirit. Then I often times go to a space of gratitude. I used to thank the situation at hand for happening, but actually I realized that that just invites the same situation to happen again, something I often times don’t want or need. I could thank, for example, my ability to be resilient and to learn in such circumstances. If I'm feeling really emotional, then I follow the RAIN method: Recognize. Allow. Investigate. Non-identification. Furthermore, I may do a heart coherence and/or breathing meditation, which opens up my heart space and inner-being to the most powerful emotion - love. I also might go to the gym, call a friend, make someone laugh, make healthy food, try something new, go in nature, journal, go to an art exhibit (realize that so much art was actually created when someone was in a "tough" situation), etc. I ask myself how I’ve been eating, sleeping, hydrating, thinking, meditating, talking and exercising lately to see if that might have to do with it. Usually, if I have exercise, nutrition and sleep in place, most any "tough" situation isn't nearly as big of a deal as it could be without those core three factors in place. And last, but not least a go-to quote: "Don’t get angry, get curious."

Chiara A: I try to slow down to be still and to understand my own emotions and then share with a safe friend. I also have an honest conversation with myself and God. “This is where I am now- why do I feel this way- how do I move away from that feeling/situation and what does it take- what are my steps?

Timea K: I always have a goal what I want to reach. If I have a bad day I think on these goals and remind myself that I don't have so much time to feel sorry for myself, because I have a lot to do and I am very lucky to be healthy. My greatest support is my husband, so I tell him immediately if I feel bad. Just to tell it, can solve the problem.

Aldin H: I write about my experiences, and definitely use my body as a cross-reference. If I am being honest about what bothers me, like if I write a paragraph about something, I check in my body if there is discomfort or if something else bothers me (or if I am hiding from something). Also I practice self-forgiveness.

Stephanie B: Giving myself a big hug, tapping into the nurturing system and trying to talk to my inner-self with compassion, like: you're okay, it's all good, we got this, this will pass, you're safe.

Holly K: I process hard things with my closest friends, then I journal about what’s happened, how I feel, and what I’m thankful for.

Maria C: I go to church and pray and read the bible - it calms me. I focus not on the problem but the solution. I also travel to clear my mind. I go to people who is positive not negative and I just calm myself so i may think clearly.

Elisabeth P: I recently started doing this exercise and noticed that I find by counting my breathing relaxes and my anxiety does go away. Then: I go and run or go for a walk, seeing other people, breathing and especially mundane repeating exercise gets me a bit better. Then I became a touch more religious (being Jewish) and find that by actually again repeating songs verses and prayers I can get it through. I also try to keep them Shabbat meaning I leave my phone, tv, etc, quiet and although tough I almost give myself the time to think about it if I want too. And most important - sleep. So before I take anxiety or depression pills, I try to sleep 8 hours regularly as I noticed that it helps my mental well-being too And last but not least: If it’s job related then I literally say to myself: if it’s not making me happy, quit. Life is too short and I wouldn’t stay in a role that makes me constantly unhappy out of I need to keep it for money, purpose, etc... but again I learned (and still learning) to say stop! Things been tough last year when I moved to Austria and I felt completely alienated as I didn’t wanted to be here (but had to move for financial reasons). And just admitting that I feel awful about it helped a lot... even to work colleagues. Opening up and saying: i got anxiety and I struggle. It sometimes works magic.

Esmina B: First, being there for me (realize what I need in that moment and give it to myself), then talking/sharing to friends, my boyfriend or family member. Going in nature/parks for a walk, peace and reflection, writing on my blog. When it's ultra hard and confusing even after few days/weeks, then I talk to my therapist and get some clearance and my peace back. Then also connecting with God, like asking Him to make it easier and to make me stronger, it's really calming and comforting... I'm treating myself as if I am my parent, and I'm being gentle and understanding... These are some of my ways I deal with stuff.

Kiernan R: Personally I tell myself '‘I must go and do something'‘ but I'm not completely convinced that it is always the most emotionally healthy thing to do. Nevertheless it's the thing I tell myself! If anything the improv work I did the last year has single handedly done more for my mental health than anything else :) I recommend it to everyone :)

Anonymous: I retreat into nature (hiking mostly), and write. I reduce my responsibilities and do "grounding" things like cleaning the apartment, grocery shopping, and of course, I talk to my friends and family.

Alexandra C: When things get tough I do my TRE to bring my body back to me. I also book a massage session, and do as much body work as I can. Also, I ask for cuddles from my friends (in case my partner is not home). The body is the base of all nurturing possibilities.


What do you do when things get tough?

Let us know in the comments below!