If you’ve encountered a trauma or tragedy, you’ve likely wondered how it would be possible to bounce back and live the same life. Maybe you couldn’t or wouldn’t be living the same life. But could you still live a life worth living? The following guest post offers some practical tips on how to regain a sense of normalcy.
Tragedy can strike anyone at any time, which quickly derails even the strongest person. For instance, when I lost my best friend in high school, I thought my world would never rebound. Every death is sudden, and it takes time to recover from any tragedy. I couldn’t have recovered if I hadn’t taken the time to gather my strength. At times, you may think your life has been shattered, and you’ll never catch your breath again. However, there are ways for everyone to move forward, even in face of the most difficult losses.
Talk to Someone
Take time out to vocally express what you’re feeling to another person. This will help you release feelings, while at the same time, allow you to work through the issues preventing you from moving forward with your life. Talking can be as simple as discussing the event or feelings surrounding the event with a loved one, or talking to a professional. Licensed counselors or psychologists are trained to listen, as well as provide methods for overcoming loss.
Hobbies and Experiences
Keep your mind busy on other subjects outside of your tragedy through the hobbies you love or experiences that will impact you, like travel, sports or music. Hobbies like scrap booking, playing a musical instrument, rock climbing, golfing or gardening have both a mental and physical aspect, which keep your mind and hands busy, leaving less time to dwell on negative thoughts. For even greater effects, take time to learn a new hobby to further occupy your mind with learning or developing a new skill. A semester of a new language like Japanese, followed by a three-week trip to Japan can be extremely lightening, rejuvenating and constructive.
Regular exercise, whether in a gym, at home or through physical activities like sports is important when facing tragedy, especially when you have feelings of stress, depression or anxiety. Exercise increases the production of endorphins, a natural mood elevator and stabilizer. Exercise can also help you sleep, offer distraction and provide an outlet for anger or frustration.
Find time to laugh. Rent a comedy movie, go see a stand up comic! Play games that cause laughter with friends or family, whatever it takes to force a smile. Laughing has proven health benefits, including natural relief from stress and depression. Laughing creates a physical response in the body that stimulates muscles, releases endorphins and improves circulation. All of these effects impact the body’s stress response by soothing tension, improving mood and relieving pain.
Take time to volunteer for others in need, or for causes that you believe in like education or the environment. Your efforts helps you focus on the good work you’re doing, rather than yourself and your current situation. They remind you of, honestly, how much worse it could be, and that everyone goes through challenges. Ideas include volunteering at a homeless shelter, working with youth in need as a big brother or big sister, working at an animal shelter, volunteering time at a local theater or music organization or even volunteering abroad. Organizations need a wide range of volunteers, which provides opportunities that can both interest you and utilize your talents and skills.
Tragedy can be life-altering but it’s up to you to determine whether the ensuing changes destroy you or strengthen you. You can and should choose to follow the steps above, or other steps of your own that bring joy back to your life. While the past may have been hard, you can now open your life up to a bright new future.
Joan Mariska writes all about self-help. Her recent work is on the Top Online Masters in Counseling Programs.