Tragedy is real
Stages of grief
Life isn’t always easy. When our worst nightmares come true, we have no choice but to accept the challenge… come what may! We go through the following stages of grief:
- Self-pity (why me?)
The biggest challenge for us is not to dwell on stages 3-7 but to swiftly march towards stage 12 which is the ultimate stage of freedom. By this point, your past doesn’t even bother you anymore and you have learned to wish your enemies well too. I know it’s easier said than done but we need to be determined for our own betterment.
Most of the tips I’m sharing in this article are the tips I learned from my mother Shireen Gheba who was my strongest pillar in the most difficult times of my life.
If you want to know more about the struggles I’ve personally faced in my life, you can find them in Struggles category on my blog. Following are some ways to cope in the most nerve-wracking times and emerge stronger and tougher.
27 Tips to Cope with Traumatic Times/Depression & Boost Happiness
The following tips are also for those who are in depression or those who feel their life isn’t exciting enough. Practicing the following will make you a happier, healthier individual who lives life to the fullest!
1. Breathing exercises
- Here are some stress management exercises for relaxation.
- Here is 15 min calming yoga for stress and anxiety relief.
2. Talk to people in the same community
3. Find solace in divine powers
4. Keep yourself busy & distracted
- Stamp collecting
- Listening to podcasts
- Watching entertaining movies (not dark ones)
5. Physical exercise
- Get a membership for a nearby Tennis, basketball, volleyball, soccer club
- I prefer outdoor sports but if they’re not available indoor sports like table tennis, snooker are great options
- Go out for a trek on nearby mountains
- Put exercises on YouTube and start working out in front of the TV
- If none of the above work, go out on a walk
6. Beware of bad habits
7. Seek help
9. Surround yourself with happy people
We all have friends with whom we can be ourselves. But there are different types of people. Some have a positive aura around them, some have a really miserable and negative aura. Surround yourself with those who uplift you, not those who pull you down.
Choose to surround yourself with those that make you laugh. With whom you are a funny person. Don’t choose to spend the majority of your time with those who keep wanting you to stay in the past.
Remember talking about what happened to you and your horrible past is only going to make you feel worse.
10. Prepare a short answer for peoples common (annoying) questions
Since you are already going through a bad patch, people’s interrogation will upset you badly. You may not yourself know all the answers and when they ask you, it’s just infuriating. When you’re hurt, sleeplessness, irregular heartbeat and stomach issues will be yours to deal with. Of course, people will ask, talk and want to know stuff.
Most of them don’t realize that their words are hurting us, the ones who do want to do just that. It’s best to think of a precise short answer of what to reply to commonly asked questions. It may even be:
‘Thanks for asking but I’m not ready to discuss it yet. I’m better now, let’s talk about something else. Change the subject or throw them a question (works even better).
I know there are so many chipkoo type irritating people who just want to only talk to us about our past. Even if you say the above, they will change the subject for a minute and then come back to the question: Tell me what happened?
I learned how to handle such people much later. I feel that when we’re raw, it’s better not to go there as it’ll only hurt yourself. They only want gossip. Most of them are not compassionate about you! They only want to discuss your life with others and want to dig more. I feel its best to avoid meeting such people altogether.
If someone keeps interrogating about your life shows they’re probably not true to you. Best is to stay away from such people who spread negative vibes. The most important thing is to surround yourself with positivity.
11. Read self-help books & survival stories
Recently, at work, we had a session on Change Management and I could so relate to it thinking of all my life’s traumatic times. It is natural to feel apprehensive, anxious and vulnerable during hard times. Studying change management makes it a whole lot easier to cope with change.
Other than this, there are books available literally on every topic now. Search for books which relate to you. Self-help books are accessible which help you through difficult times in your life and make your tragedies far less painful. My mama has a whole library of books and all kinds of friends.
So every time I’m in the soup, she fetches just the perfect book for me for my exact situation. If I need more help, she will take me to a friend who is the perfect counsellor to heal my sorrow. It really helps!
There are many books available in libraries and stores on:
- Break-up survival guides
- The after effects of divorce
- Relationship advice
- How to move on after a loved one’s death
Choose the ones best suited for you and start reading!
12. Count your blessings
One of the ways to come out of a miserable state is to be grateful for all that you are blessed with. It’s a great way to enjoy and appreciate the present moment you are in.
If your present is free of any intense physical pain, or you have the gift of working organs in your body (sight, touch, hearing, feeling and smelling), you are blessed and you have every right to celebrate life.
- 5 things I’m thankful for
- 5 things that could go wrong but didn’t
- 5 good things I did today
13. Don’t think about your problems after 5 pm
My family and I have had our share of hard times in life. My mom made a rule in our house not to think or talk about our problems after 5 pm every day. In your hard times, your mind is overwhelmed by endless thoughts and possibilities. It never rests. So she made this rule and made sure we gave our minds a break by cutting off all our problems and only thinking happy thoughts after 5 pm. This also makes sure that you tackle your issues during the daytime only just like office life.
14. Play board games
Our family is obsessed with board games. Our idea of night time is to get together and play all sorts of games and have fun together. I have recommended a lot of games you can play in my article Zero Dollar Fun Ideas.
15. Listen to loud music
The best time to listen to loud music is in the car when you can sing along and have a good time without disturbing others. However, there may be other times when you are alone at home or your room is away from others where you can take advantage and play your favourite music as loud as possible. If you sing along, it’ll almost make your pain go away for some time.
16. Quality entertainment
I love the following quotation by a great scholar Abbas Hussain:
I take my entertainment very seriously.
These days, it is way easier than before to choose exactly what you want to spend your time watching or listening to. Make sure its worth it! When it comes to entertaining yourself, choose TV shows which you love watching. If you’re watching something, ask yourself:
- Is this show making me laugh
- Is it making me feel good?
- Am I learning something important in life?
If none of the above are true, take charge of the remote and put on something that will make you grow as a person.
- Here is a playlist which I have saved on YouTube which contains intellectual TED talks and inspiring shows.
- Here is a playlist containing some audiobooks.
There is no doubting that dance really makes you feel better. Night time is when my sisters, mom and I make it a point to dance away. It really uplifts your spirits and makes you forget all the pain. These precious moments are what life is really about. Isn’t it?
18. The weaker your interior, the stronger the exterior
We falsely believe that when people see us crying, they’ll run to us, hug us and kiss away our sorrows. But unfortunately, that doesn’t happen in this world. The weaker they know we are, the more they exploit us and tend to take advantage of us.
I’m talking about most people in the world. I’m not talking about family here. This is one of the most brutal facts of this world. So if you feel really down and miserable, you should still deck up, get ready and face the world with a smile.
19. Letting-go exercise
Hard times are never easy to forget. They say ‘time heals all wounds’ but the scars always remain. It’s very difficult to move on. It will always be a war that you fight against yourself for the rest of your life. But let’s accept the facts, we must move on for our own sanity. The sooner we carry on and start our normal lives, the better it is for us and for those around us.
Letting go and moving on exercise can be both mental or physical. You may realize it and at one point in time and tell yourself that this point onward I will never look back. Tell yourself that you are leaving this loss behind. Write down your loss on a piece of paper and go to a lake/pond/sea and throw it, let it go and move on. Throw away all gifts or things that remind you of that person and just truly free yourself of all the baggage physically and mentally.
20. Fake it till you smile naturally
I remember in my worst times, my mama asked me to smile. I was pretty shocked and said ‘I’m struggling to stop my tears, how can I possibly smile at a moment like this’. She asked me to still try.
When you fake smile, it eventually starts to grow into you. Your muscles used to smile will start doing it naturally even if you were pretending the first time. Try it, it is a tried out way to slowly feel better. Plus its better for your skin to smile than to frown.
21. Practice mindfullness
Practicing mindfulness keeps us in the present moment and doesn’t let us worry about the future or past. It is amazing how good you feel after this practice. If you don’t know about it, you can search for 15 minute mindfullness/meditation sessions on YouTube and start learning. There are many apps available on your phone too.
Practicing meditation, yoga, Reiki, reflexology are also forms of mindfullness which you can aim to learn. Getting a massage done is also an effective way to feel more present and happier.
22. Practice minimalism
We may not realize it but all the junk that we keep surrounding our houses with, makes us feel down. Minimalism is not only about the stuff we own in our closet/home but also in our lives. Practicing minimalism means letting go of everything in our life thats not needed. It also includes managing our energies, time and effort better. Automating our life/procedures and making it easier and simple. The book I recommend you all to read is:
23. Listen to podcasts
My favourite way to start a day is to listen to podcasts. Almost every single morning I listen to podcasts while doing my day chores. The best part is that you can listen while you’re driving, excercising or doing house chores.
This is a sure-shot way to instantly boost happiness and grow as a person. While I’m bathing, feeding or spending time with my baby, I do it too. Anyone with a smart phone can simply go into Podcasts app and subscribe to shows which you like. Following are some of my favourite motivational shows that I love listening to. Some for business and others for personal/professional growth. I would highly recommend subscribing to the following and checking out their list of episodes. You’ll find so many that you can’t wait to hear:
- Jay Shetty
- Super Soul Conversations with Oprah Winfrey
- Nauman Ali Khan
- Be your own boss – Roota Mittel
- TED talks daily
- The Minimalists
- How I built this
- Goal-digger by Jenna Kutcher
- The Motherly podcast
- Perfection detox
- Happier by Gretchen Rubin
- Unleash your blog by John Meese
- Confessions of successful asian women with aliya
- Christy Wright’s Business Boutique
- Smart People
24. Talk to family and friends in a funny tone
My mama and us sisters made this rule. Whenever we are stressed out, we talk to eachother in a funny tone. All must mimic and reply in an equally funny tone. This rule applies while talking on the phone too. Trust me, its so funny and cracks you up even when you’re in a serious mood. Actually it sounds even funnier then.
Tip: Try some really exaggerated paindoo/villager accents.
25. Gratitude journal
It has been proven that if we keep a journal and write:
- 3/5 things that I’m thankful for every day
- 3/5 good things that happened to me today
We will live happier lives.
26. Learn a new skill
Learning a new language or skill is therapeutic. Following are some ideas:
Learn painting, gardening, guitar, singing, boxing, karate. Anything… Sky is the limit! Here are some great ideas to get you started.
27. Be close to nature
I feel like the further we are from nature, the worse we feel. It has been proven that spending too much time in artificial lighting in front of gadgets has an inverse effect on our wellbeing and happiness. Being close to nature like walking barefeet on the grass, watching the sunset at a beach, walking in the rain, going for trekking in the woods makes us feel so good.
Spending time with animals is a great way to boost happiness.