When your world is falling apart, when all of your decisions seem bad, when you can't find a job no matter what, or everything just seems to suck - STOP! When you're going down, stop struggling. It's like quicksand. The more you thrash about - the deeper you will sink.
Have you ever noticed that when someone makes bad decisions they seem to repeatedly make bad decisions? Have you ever known someone that jumps from one bad job (or relationship) to another one just as bad or worse? Could it be that when you are in a hole and keep doing the same thing, only faster and harder, that you are only making things worse? Eventually the hole seems so big that you are stuck forever. STOP DIGGING THE HOLE.
The more we feel that we need to do something quick, the slower we should go. The fear and the panic should be a sign that something isn't right and let me give you a clue - the problem isn't out there. You're not going to change all of the circumstances of the world, but you can change yourself and how you view and interact with the world.
When your world is falling apart, it's time to look inside and do a little work - to build a strong foundation from which to rebuild. I recommend the following as a place to start. Tweak it as necessary to make it work for you.
- Get eight hours of sleep. I know, I know - you are a super human and only need three hours of sleep or maybe you are so busy that you couldn't possibly spend eight hours unconscious. To either of these I say BULLSHIT. Study after study has shown that 7-8 hours of sleep is necessary for us to function at our peak. If you won't do this then don't expect things to get better.
- Get proper nutrition. The mind-body connection is scientific fact. When you are not getting the proper nutrition then your body and your mind suffer. When your body and mind suffer your life will suck. I'm not going to get into the great diet debate here. Let's just suffice to say that fast food or factory foods will not cut it. Fresh, real foods are necessary. Buying a majority of your foods from the perimeter of the grocery is a good starting point. Stay away from the center isles where the artificial food-like-substances are sold.
- Get some exercise. You don't have to run a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise. Start with a walk or bicycle ride three to five days a week. Fifteen minutes a day is fine for starters. Build up until you are getting 4-5 hours a week of exercise. You will begin to see an improvement in your mood and well being almost immediately. Many studies have linked mental well being with exercise.
- Spend some time alone. Meditate or simply spend some quiet time with yourself. It's a great way to start and finish your day. It may feel awkward at first if you are used to constant distractions - work through the awkward feeling. If problems or fears surface, acknowledge them but don't feed them with attention. Make a note to return and attend to them at a later time. Right now you are seeking to center yourself and build inner strength. After working through the awkward feeling and anxiety you will feel a peace. A few minutes a day of quiet time will eventually bring strength and clarity.
- Eliminate negative influences. To the greatest extent possible, separate yourself from any person, place, or thing that is bringing you down, is disruptive for you, unsupportive of you, or otherwise harmful to your well being or self esteem. These influences can be people, habits, television shows, or thoughts. They are toxic to your well being. Take the time to identify them and eliminate them.
- Stop doing what is expected of you. Don't let guilt and other people's expectations rule your life. Every day do a little less of what you should and more of what you want to do. Do things that bring joy and excitement. You'll find passion creeping back into your life.
- Be thankful. I've talked about this many times. Learn to appreciate the good things in life - the sun, your family, your pet, your health.... Just be grateful for something. If you are currently coming from a negative place and feeling bitter, then I know you're probably thinking this step is crap. The stronger that feeling, the more you need this step. Skip it at your own peril. Studies of the mind show that when we focus on problems and what is wrong in our life, then we fail to see solutions - you'll just keep digging that hole that you're so busy complaining about. Re-framing is an excellent way to see the world in a more positive light.
When you are whole again and ready to take on the world then take steps to make better decisions ( read here).
If you like this article then please pass it along. Not for me, but because someone may need to read this. You may share on Facebook, Google +, email it to someone, or link to it from your blog. If you don't have a blog yet then you should consider it. We all have something to say and we all can make a difference in this world.
Check out my guest post this morning at We Only Do This Once.
Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living