4 Ways to Stay Sane When Life Gets Rough

It finally happened. For a year, volatility at my husband’s company gave us one scare after the other, and today he called to tell me he lost his job. His calm, gentle voice on the other end of the line, asking me how I was doing, made me cry more than the news itself.

This isn’t the first time since we got married. Not even the first time since we’ve had kids. His industry is brutal for it’s turnover. But he’s amazingly calm and strategic about things, so he’s already working on leads to overcome this misfortune. Me, on the other hand? I freak out, then write, THEN get calm and strategic when life throws a curve ball.

So now I write, having cried, curled up in a bath in the fetal position, called my inner circle of support, and sucked down a large cup of coffee (yes, there was whipped cream involved – are you kidding – on a day like this?)

Since my favorite topic to speak to women’s groups about is being resilient (owing to the fact that life frequently throws curve balls, and I am not about to go down without a fight), I thought I’d revisit a few of my personal favorite strategies for kicking misfortune in the teeth.

1. Fix something. There’s nothing worse in times of intense stress than the compounding effect of little chronic stressors with the new, larger one. For me it’s losing my car keys. After six years of losing them daily, I finally said, “Do I really need to search my house for my car keys while the kids are waiting (i.e. screaming and wrestling) in the van outside every day of my life?” No. So I hammered a nail in the wall to keep my keys on. Much less stress in my day. With one, tiny nail.

2. Ignore something. Whatever sources of stress that are not absolutely necessary can be strategically ignored for a little while. Today’s choice for ignoring? Laundry. Not my favorite, thus I will pretend it doesn’t exist for 48 hours. The key here is choosing to ignore just long enough to give us that little boost in energy and focus to handle the major stressors in life, without putting the other stuff off so long it becomes more intense than the crisis we’re facing in the first place!

3. Accomplish something. A loss or misfortune often leaves us feeling helpless. But we’re most certainly not! In the uncertain season my husband’s faced, I decided to accomplish some things to combat this feeling. One was to finish and mail off my final exam for a class I took, which lifted my spirits for the rest of the day! Of course, it’s not always something big like this. Maybe it’s getting the kids someplace on time, or putting away the laundry that’s been folded in the laundry room for a week…. (which is my next project once I stop ignoring it).

4. Do something joyful. “For everything there is a season” a wise king once said. Even for joy in the midst of disorienting grief or stress. So run in the ocean waves. Walk in a garden. Visit the tide pools. Get some sunshine. Make yourself a cup of coffee. Laugh. Take pictures. Snuggle your kids. (And thanks to all my Facebook friends for these great ideas!) Don’t get so caught up in whatever life’s thrown you that you miss the good parts happening right now, in spite of it all.

What about you? What do you do when life throws you a curve?


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  1. says

    These are great tips – I wish I had read this 18 months ago! It was something I definitely needed to hear then, but remembering this in calm times helps too.

  2. says

    One thing I have learned in 20 years of marriage is that GOD is faithful in every way. I know HE will provide EVERYTHING that is needed for your hubby and for you and the kids.

    I'm praying for you.

    Your 4 ways to stay sane are so good and very true!!! May I add one that I do daily and often as a number 5, Pray & trust in the LORD fully. He loves you and He knows your needs and He will provide.

    He said “I will never leave you or forsake you”.

    You have my prayers and love!

  3. says

    What a terrific attitude…well, once you got vertical from the fetal position! haha
    I know this is a huge change in your life so I won't minimize it with trivial advice. Let me just say that everything happens for a reason. You're husband sounds very much in control of the situation, so go have some more whipped cream!

  4. says

    I would reassure myself with the knowledge that children do not have full awareness or fully understand the whole context of the situation. Just yesterday our CollegSon stated emphatically that he was unaware of the meaning of our actions on 9-11 while in an airport. He was 11 years old.

    So cognitively they will likely not understand and explaining it to them might not help. But, children do feel/get the emotional tone of what is said to them. I would try to keep my own emotions in check when talking to our children. Which is what I had to do on 9-11. Apparently it worked. Barbara

  5. says

    Natalie – yep, that's why it was saved for last. It really is a big girl thing to choose joy. From your posts, I can tell that's one of your strengths! 🙂

  6. says

    Thanks, Barbara. Me too! What are your thoughts on helping the kiddos get through this? I know you work with families and kids with special needs. We'd love the input!

  7. says

    Fantastic post, and advice. I think my favorite takeaway is to do something joyful. When things are rough, the last thing I want to do is put on my big girl panties and try to enjoy myself. But everytime I do it, it makes a HUGE difference!