5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself in Tough Times


In an interview about “A Star Is Born,” the recently released movie starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, Stephen Colbert asked Gaga what she does to wind down at the end of the day. “I have a glass of wine and cry,” she said. “Like everybody else, I think.”

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with imbibing wine in moderation, there are many ways to nurture mind, body, spirit and emotions when the pressure-balloon of life expands. Whether you’re feeling strain due to family or financial issues, general questions about what road to take in life, or overload due to current social and political affairs, here are five ways to de-stress and come back to yourself.

Go ahead and cry (and sleep). Crying has numerous benefits, from relieving physical stress to releasing bottled-up emotions. To help make crying an effective, positive experience rather than one that drives you further downward emotionally, pay attention to the moment you start to feel better. That’s a signal that it’s time to start to shift to the next phase of nurturing yourself, like taking it easy, doing something relaxing or heading to bed early. Sleep is a natural elixir that soothes and fortifies, making it possible for you to get up the next day and do it — whatever “it” is — again.

Unplug. Taking even a short break from all things online can help you reconnect with what’s important. You start to hear your own thoughts and feel your own emotions without talking heads trying to exert influence over your decision making, or advertising and Instagram-worthy images pressuring you to look or be a certain way. It may also be helpful to take a breather from certain connections for however long feels good to you. If you go this route, though, be sure to let the close friends and family members who are accustomed to staying in touch know that you’re taking some time to yourself so they won’t worry about your safety and well-being.

Reach out. The other side of the disconnecting-for-a-minute coin is reaching out when you need to. Having an effective, loving support system is a critical part of moving through anything difficult, from day-to-day stresses to sudden life events. If you don’t have anyone close to you who provides this kind of support, seek out groups of like-minded and like-hearted people with whom you can connect.

Take action. You may not be able to control everything that happens in life, but you do have direct control over two things: your choices and your actions. Choose to focus and act on what you can do, rather than what you can’t do. If you feel powerless watching scenes of destruction or hunger around the world, do something that helps someone in your immediate vicinity. Even small acts, like taking out an elderly neighbor’s garbage, make a big difference in another person’s life and help you feel better. And if you feel distress about what’s happening in your own community, state or country, be sure to let your voice be heard with your vote in November.

Create sacred space. This could be a physical place, like a room in your home or a spot in nature. Beyond the physical, take time to find the place within yourself that nothing, and no one, can touch. It’s a space where you know who you are, what you value and what you will or will not accept — all from a timeless perspective. It’s also a place where, in mind and heart, you can reconnect with loved ones or pets that have passed, or a spiritual figure that resonates for you. This sacred space is always available to you, and you can return time and again for comfort, wisdom and guidance.

Inevitably, life brings challenges. Whether they feel small or large, manageable or overwhelming, finding ways to nurture yourself can help you move through difficult times — and emerge from them a stronger, better person.

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