11 Practices to Help You Thrive in Difficult Times

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Some of the most compassionate and caring people got that way because they learned to thrive in difficult times.  They know what it’s like to be at rock bottom and have to climb their way out. 

While no one chooses to go through difficulties, how you respond to them makes a huge difference. Like the proverbial tree, you can bend, or you can break.

Yet, developing strategies to get through hardships isn’t a natural part of growth. These come with trial and error.

If you’d rather not learn from your mistakes and you want to take a proactive approach, use these tips to thrive in difficult times.

1. Focus on Your Goals

In a list of your top goals, chances are “success” would be one of them. This broad term is tossed around a lot, but what does it really mean?

We all want to be successful, but this term implies something different to everyone. Dig deep and figure out how you’ll know when you’ve reached the level of “success.”

As you develop your goals, each one will have its own target. To keep on the path that’s going to help you attain each goal, always have these questions in mind:

  • What are your goals? 
  • What’s your definition of success? 
  • Is what you’re going through now throwing them off course?
  •  How can you get back on track?
  • What will your successful life look like?

Tomorrow is going to come, regardless of how you handle the difficulties of today. Plant the seeds of success in at least one goal every day, even if you have to crawl to get there.

2. Validate Your Feelings

Many people are raised to believe that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. But you don’t have to see your feelings as a bad thing. Ignoring how you feel or trying to cover it up often leads to unhealthy addictions.

The truth is that when you can accept and validate your emotions, you are more likely to handle them in a healthy way. 

As a bonus, you become a role model for those around you, especially children. They’ll see you thriving in hard times and begin to copy your strategies.

3. Switch Your Perspective

Those who thrive in life weren’t born with silver spoons or the magic touch. They know how to switch their mindsets to focus on moving forward, regardless of the difficulties they face.

When you first notice that you’re complaining or feeling down about a situation, acknowledge the reason. Then, look for something else you can do to pull yourself out of the negative thinking. 

If you’re not cautious, that negativity can spiral into sadness or depression. Catching it at the source and switching your perspective to something positive helps you keep going until you can deal with the problem.

4. Talk It Out

Have you ever had something driving you crazy in your head, but once you said it out loud, you realized it wasn’t that bad?

When we keep our problems locked up in our minds, they always seem worse than they are.

Find a trusted friend or a therapist to talk out your worries and goals. Talk therapy is often covered by insurance. It’s a recommended way to identify the problems in your life and learn coping strategies to work through them.

5. Think About the Solution, Not the Problem

There are two main types of people in the world: those who focus on problems and those who look for solutions.

Yes, you need to acknowledge the problem exists. Once you recognize it, though, don’t wallow in it. Look for ways you can solve the issue and move forward.

Being able to think this way isn’t natural for everyone. Don’t feel bad if you’re not wired this way automatically. There are lots of classes and life coaches who can help you retrain your brain.

Solution-oriented thinking is one of the traits almost all successful leaders share. It’s a skill that will help you thrive in hard times and excel in the rest of your life.

6. Learn to be Grateful

In the dark times, it’s so difficult to focus on the good things in your life. It can feel like you have nothing but problems, but that’s not true for anyone.

Yet, the little things you’re supposed to be grateful for aren’t always easy to see. They’re probably even things you take for granted. 

Learning to be thankful for those small conveniences and blessings is everything. The attitude of gratitude is one of the best ways to get through hard times.

Every day, make a list of at least ten things that you can be grateful for. Then, when you feel least like being thankful, pull those lists out and read them.

Inch by inch, you’ll start to realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem, and that there’s always something to be happy about.

7. Put Yourself First

Self-care is a buzzword today, and for a good reason. Research shows that your mental health declines when you’re always taking care of others and never yourself. 

Putting yourself first doesn’t mean you’re selfish — it means that you know you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Before you say you can’t afford self-care, please know that it doesn’t mean going for a spa day or a shopping spree. Self-care could look like that, yes, but it can also mean:

  • Eating healthier
  • Going for a walk
  • Sleeping better
  • Journaling
  • Finding a hobby
  • Practicing yoga or meditating

Anything that helps you recharge your batteries—and you’ll feel it when you find the right activities—is self-care.

8. Develop Boundaries

You were born a human, not a doormat. But over time, many of us learn that it’s easier to say “okay” than “no.” Eventually, this can drain your mental health, especially when you’re already going through hard times.

Part of taking care of yourself is determining where boundaries are necessary and creating them. You don’t need a wall, but you do need a border. 

When others are nearing the line, let them know. It’s there to protect your relationship with them, not to keep them out of your life entirely.

Remember, boundaries are the distance where you can love yourself and the other person at the same time.

9. Eat Right

One of the first things to get pushed to the curb when we’re stressed is our health. It’s just easier to eat processed foods, run through the drive-thru, or skip meals entirely. 

But this “easy” route makes things much harder for you in the long run. The fifteen minutes you saved is multiplied exponentially over the years when the junk food results in chronic diseases.

Nutritional depletion also saps your energy. Your body needs good food to run every system inside you, both physically and psychologically. Vitamin deficiencies are responsible for many mental health illnesses. 

If you want to get through those difficult circumstances, you’ll do it better if you pass up the sweets and grab some fruit.

10. Check Your Growth

When you were a child, you never noticed yourself growing until you measured yourself against something else. The same theory applies to your personal growth in life. 

Where you are now might not be your final destination, but is it further than you were in the past?

Sometimes, small steps are better than big leaps. What little victories can you celebrate each day, even through your difficult times?

Every inch forward is progress, even if it’s followed by setbacks. Keep your finish line in sight. Whatever goal you’re working towards, focus on the tiny movements, not the big jumps.

11. Give Yourself Some Grace

More than anything else, you must practice giving yourself permission to mess up. We all make mistakes, especially when we’re facing adversity. If you harp on every single screw-up, you’ll beat yourself down.

That doesn’t mean you can stop trying. It means when you know you’ve done the best you could do at the moment, and it doesn’t work, it’s okay.

Pushing to give 100% when you don’t have it is setting yourself up for failure. If you can’t give your all to one thing, do something else until you can.

To thrive in life, you must give yourself grace and be comfortable learning from your mistakes.

Conclusion

Successful people don’t always get that way because it was handed to them. For millions of people, it’s the obstacles and challenges that make them succeed!

It’s not always easy to remember the silver linings when times are tough, but these tips will remind you to keep moving forward so you can thrive, no matter what situation you’re in.

About the Author

Caitlin Sinclair is the business manager at Elements 616, an apartment community in Redondo Beach, CA.

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