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3 Uncommon Tips for Coping When Life Is Tough

1. Stretch your time perspective.

What feels really tough today isn't compared to some of what our fellow Earth-dwellers have faced historically. When I'm stressed, it doesn't help me at all to reflect on recent tragedies, like wars. However, it does help me feel better if I go right back to the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, and early humans migrating out around the world from Africa.

Anything that stretches your time perspective can help the stress you're experiencing now feel less intense. There's a chance that thinking about more stressful situations might leave you feeling worse, so this is a tip you'll need to try for yourself and see what impact it has on you. And, remember, I said there's a lot of nuance in what exactly might help. Find what helps you.

The effect of stretching your time perspective is quite different from merely reflecting on how other people have it worse than you, which often isn't helpful.

2. Don't leave little to-dos to the last minute.

Some of people's natural coping when they're feeling crushed ends up generating further stress. Most people become avoidant and procrastinate when they're down. Perhaps you leave a task until the due date, assuming it'll go smoothly, and then it doesn't. If you had a few days to figure out the snafu, it wouldn't be stressful, but because you've left it, it is. For example, you attempt to pay a bill at 5 p.m. on the due date, but the company's website glitches, when it never has before.

Whatever big issues you're experiencing, you might need to take a little breather from trying to fix those. It can help you get your confidence and self-efficacy back if you take care of unrelated little things. You'll also dramatically decrease the stress that can occur when you attempt to do things last minute.

This tip both can boost your confidence and decrease necessary stress.

3. Take a yoga class or do a compassionate meditation.

Yoga and meditation are very standard tips for reducing stress. The subtle difference is that I'm not suggesting you start a yoga or meditation habit. I'm suggesting you do it once. Starting a habit can feel like too much pressure or not your priority for your limited time and energy. I don't want to do daily yoga or meditation either.

Slowing down to do a single yoga class or meditation might be what you need to let the flood gates of your emotions open, and ultimately release the pressure cooker situation that can happen when we attempt to hold it together through extended, difficult challenges and tough times.