We all have known misery. Its that dark dingy place where no ones wants to be but we are stomped there every time tragedy strikes. Life is very erratic. In the best of times the worst things can happen and in the most horrible times, finest things can happen. Your worst nightmares can come true in the split of a second. Just when you think it cannot possibly get any worse, it does.
And when it strikes, it hits you hard. Just like a bullet through your heart exasperating you by sheer shock. Disaster enters our lives in different forms and times. Death, illness, deception, loss, divorce, accident or seeing your loved ones hurt are some of its common forms. Many times it feels like one really will not be able to live. We say to our loved ones all the time, “I will die if something happens to you.” But if God forsake something happens, we do survive as we don’t have a choice. Even though we move on, the wounds turn into scars and we have to live with them for the rest of our lives. In most cases, we are never the same again.
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 five stages of grief:
Shock & Denial
Anger (hatred, why me?)
The biggest challenge for us is not to dwell on 1-4 stages but to swiftly march towards stage 5. I know it’s easier said than done but we need to be determined for our own betterment. Following are some ways to cope in the most nerve-wracking times and emerge stronger and tougher.
11 Ways to Cope with Traumatic Times
1. Breathing exercises
Your heartbeat is irregular and affected badly in stressful times and you may have the heart sinking feeling which you really can’t avoid.Regular breathing in and out exercises can help you control your heartbeat. Yoga would be ideal too.
2. Talk to people in the same community
Reach out to people who have been through similar tragedies and talk to them. In dark times, we get a tendency to just stay alone and not talk to anyone but we have to avoid being in that comfort zone. Sometimes for our own well-being, we have to push ourselves and reach out to people who have been through the same situation and see how they coped with it and survived. This is probably one of the best ways to recover from a loss.
3. Find solace in divine powers
Dua (prayer) & Quran are the magic words which can cure better than any medicine. We shouldn’t take out the Quran only in our darkest times. It should be a continuous routine throughout the year. This is the time of the year when we need it the most.
4.Keep yourself busy
Keep yourself busy with a full time job, a business or time consuming hobbies like painting, stamp collecting. Don’t let yourself be free to think and over-think. Your mind at this time will replay the tragic moments over and over crushing you from your core and making you feel helpless every time those images come flashing back. If you surrender to your mind, it will ruin you eventually. The best thing to do in your darkest days is to force your self to be so busy that your mind doesn’t get any time to wander. It is rightly said that an idle mind is a devils advocate.
5. Physical exercise
Many times, when you are going through a trauma, its very difficult to exercise. Your family member might be admitted in hospital, you may have to go to different offices for paperwork etc. You may not realize it but you need your exercise at this time the most. Take out time for yoga or sports even if its only ten minutes a day.
6. Beware of bad habits
Dark times are the ones when a person can really go off the rails. This is the time when you are being tested the most. This is the time you must act up and not get into any bad influence. A person is at his weakest when he’s going through a turmoil and it is easy for him to get under the influence. You lose sleep, you are feeling extreme emotions and you tend to lose balance/control. But you better put yourself together and make sure you stay away from habits like taking sleeping pills, drinking, drugs etc.
7. Seek help
In our society people think only mental cases go to psychologists or psychiatrists. That is not the case. Perfectly sane people who are going through a bad patch in life have every right to talk to a counselor, psychologist or a learned friend. Talk to any one who can make you feel better about yourself and life.
During hard times, one really forgets about the world. All you have been doing is focusing all your energies and attention on something which in most cases isn’t even in your control. You will not be noticing whether its cloudy or sunny or if the the mountains are covered with snow outside. Being far from nature will naturally cause depression and make you feel worse about life. You do not necessarily have to travel far. You could just take a picnic blanket and lie down in a beautiful garden/park where you can just do nothing and be close to nature, butterflies and trees. They have natural tonic to make you feel better, if not exuberant.
9. Letting-go exercise
Hard times are never easy to forget. They say time heals all wounds but the scars always remain. Its very difficult to move on. It will always be a war that you fight against yourself for the rest of your life. But lets 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.
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, its 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. Its 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, lets talk about something else. Change the subject or throw them a question (works even better).
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 a 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 counselor to heal my sorrow. It really helps!
Whenever I was going through a misfortune in life, my dad reminded me with a smile on his face “This too shall pass”. When we both were on the longest trek of our lives (from Taxila to E-11 Islamabad), he said “When your knees quiver and you can not take one more step, that’s when you must not stop.” We all have heard the saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Lets all try to be stronger individuals who accept catastrophes as part of life and move on. Let’s not get stuck in aw, self pity, anger, or ‘why me’? Instead let’s move on, accept life’s challenges and think positive!
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