Six Things to Do When Life Gets Tough

I was visiting with a dear friend this past weekend who shared that she’s battling depression. “It comes and it goes. But when it returns, I often freeze and forget what helps me most. All my great self-care practices fly right out the window,” she said.

I could relate. Last week, I had a bomb dropped on me at work that sent me reeling into a vortex of anger and betrayal. And while I teach, practice, and evangelize about the practice of self-care, for the first 24 hours after this incident, I was paralyzed. Everything I knew about taking sweet care of myself was off sunning on a remote island.

Can you relate? I think we all know what helps us “feel good fast” (both the healthy and unhealthy habits), but when our body and brain get triggered by big, bold, old emotions, we sometimes revert to a primal state.

But, good news: There are simple, nurturing self-care practices that can bring us back to our innate well-being quite quickly.

Here are six things to do when life feels hard.

Get grateful. Voicing what we’re grateful for heightens our mood, floods our body with endorphins, shifts and broadens how we see the world, and supports us in remembering what really matters. It’s a gift that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and it’s free.

Go outside. Time in nature is often referred to as the ultimate antidepressant because it affects us physically, mentally, and emotionally. A date with Mother Nature reduces stress, enhances our mood and overall mental health, helps us to “reset,” promotes cognitive abilities, fosters problem solving and creativity, supports work/life balance, stimulates social interactions, and enhances family connection and intimacy.

Move your body and breathe. Ever heard the phrase, “The issues are in the tissues”? Most of us need all the help we can get to move out of our heads and into our bodies. Go to a yoga, Nia, or qi gong class, take a hike, walk around the block or in your parking lot at work—just move and breathe! One of my favorite exercises is to breathe in for a count of three and then exhale for a count of three. Try breathing through your nose, with your mouth closed.

Ask for help. People who are comfortable asking for and receiving help—whether it’s from a coach, therapist, mentor, professional organization, business partner, neighbor, friend, or colleague—experience greater success and feel more connected and confident in all areas of their lives. Learning to ask for and receive help can be one of the most important skills you can cultivate, and it can open you up to all kinds of new perspectives. Having a support system can make all the difference in how you experience the journey.

Do less. We’re entering a whole new frontier that requires us to find more space to breathe, think, dream, and digest. We’re craving more time to just be—so we can actually integrate into our hearts and souls what’s happening moment to moment. The more choices and decisions we have, the less happy we are. Overdoing keeps us from experiencing life in the moment, and is taxing to our well-being.

Feel to heal. The more we’re able to just be with what we’re feeling, the more we’re able to heal from old wounds. When we “feel our feelings,” we become more open and accessible to our loved ones, we’re more connected to our passions and desires, we become more comfortable voicing our needs and drawing clear boundaries, we begin to harvest the gifts that come from living with the light and the dark, and—contrary to what we might think—we actually begin to feel more alive and less fearful.

This article was originally published on Renée's blog at

Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally recognized transformational coach, speaker, catalyst, founder and president of Career Strategists, and the author of two award-winning books The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life.

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