Monday, September 10, 2012

Trying to Find Peace When Life is Difficult

Life is hard sometimes.  It's hard to find peace or joy during those times.  Sometimes we may even feel guilty focusing on anything other than the problems and issues that are making life so difficult.  And while it's definitely important to take care of the problems or show care and concern, pray, support and show love, we also need to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally.

Focus on the moment.  What are you doing right now?  Watching TV?  Reading a book.  Playing a game.  Writing a report.  Force yourself to focus solely on what you are doing RIGHT NOW.  Enjoy this moment in front of you.  Take it one minute at a time.

Make lists.  Make lists of things you need to do.  We can easily become consumed with being upset, but if we have a list of things we need to do. List everything from the daily tasks like laundry and food prep to those things you always want to do but never get around to doing, like organizing the silverware drawer.  Force yourself to focus on getting some of those things done.

Call a friend.  When things seem to mount up in my mind, Jason tells me that I have to "get out of my head".  If I can't focus on a task at hand, like re-organizing my pantry, I call a friend.  There is usually someone willing to listen and also to tell me about their life, which helps me shift my focus away from being upset.

Get together with friends. Plan an outing with friends.  Invite friends over.  Accept an invitation.  Get out and get around other people, having conversations about everything from television shows to politics will remind you that you have a support system and help you to relax.  Inviting friends over may force you to focus on baking or cooking, cleaning and then the even itself.  Not a bad thing.

Exercise.  Take a yoga class or other exercise class.  Avoid walking or running unless you can do it with someone, it may keep you "too much in your head" if you are alone.  Play tennis or racquetball, something will force you to focus on what is right in front of you and get "out of your head". Exercise helps release endorphins, those lovely little chemicals that make us feel happy.

Put on your favorite music.  Whether it is CDs or itunes or Pandora, putting on music that you like may help force you to focus on the lyrics, dance around, relax.  In high school, I had a "Screaming tape" for those moments when my friends or my hormones were just too much...we would pile in my car, drive around and scream the lyrics to these songs.  It always made us feel better.

Show support.  If there is someone in your life going through something, call them or go see them.  Listen to their concerns and let them know how much they mean to you and that you are there for them, but also tell them about what is going on in your life, get the conversation on other things than the issue at hand, so you can both relax a bit.

Play with your kids.  Don't worry about laundry or housework, which may "keep you in your head", instead take this time to play a game with your kids or run around the yard with them or let them take old towels and hang them from a tree to make a tent that you can all hide in or read a book in.

Treat yourself.  Don't do this to the point of going into debt, but if making dinner is too much for you, go out once in a while, take the time to relax and enjoy having someone cook for you.  If you had your eye on a copper pot, splurge and buy it for yourself.  Treat yourself to something that will make you feel good without putting you in debt.

Count your blessings.  In November of 2011, I started a weekly post called Thankful Thursday.  It started as something for Thanksgiving, but ended up changing my life.

Pray.  I have been through times where I don't go to church and times when I am active in church, but the one thing that has remained constant in my life is prayer.  I pray every morning and every night and oftentimes several times during the day.  Sometimes my prayer is just a matter of sitting quietly and focusing on God's love.  When I was 23, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and I felt so helpless, prayer was all I could do for her and it gave me peace.  I've found that in times of trial my faith doesn't ever falter, because prayer is the one thing that unfailingly gives me peace.