My friend and I used to take long walks after work, where we would dive into deep, passionate conversations that led us to believe we had all the answers to life’s most difficult situations. We would look at one specific problem we were facing and then talk until the conversation was exhausted. This would force our problem to go away. It’s only now that I realize that those “problems” were minuscule in comparison to the “real” problems we would face later in our young lives. Our complaints usually related to a co-worker’s attitude, a friend’s bad choice of a boyfriend, wondering why people don’t take care of themselves, our lack of money at twenty-two and complaints about who is hosting the upcoming weekend party and how bad the food would be. At that time, I loved our gossip walk. We would have heated discussions while supporting each other’s surface level complaints. I have my best memories from those walks. I can still hear our laughter and remember how our hearts ached over our ridiculous concerns.
Looking back, I try to bring to light to how those small irrelevant issues could be solved with a long “walk and talk.” I wonder how can I handle bigger problems in my life six years later? Of course, my small-town gossip drama has transformed into the deep pain of losing loved ones, concerns about affording a mortgage, the worry that accompanies career changes and other of life’s great stressors. Talking about life’s worries to exhaustion can help bury feelings and anxiety related to the problem; however, it doesn’t make them go away. Over the years, I have had to learn how to handle these problems internally and independently. Trust me, no one else wants to bear the burden of your problems. As a nurse practitioner, I have seen many patients with wonderful families who are willing to be loving and supportive, especially in a time of crisis. But remember, no one can give 100% to someone else. It is just not possible. We have to take care of ourselves and manage our own wellness, even in times of adversity.
Learning how to self-manage emotional and mental health, while facing a hardship sets us up for a greater handle on life. We must recognize our destructive behavior, steer away from the “victim mentality” and decrease the stress and indignation we place on both strangers and loved ones. Taking time to self-reflect will help create a better life for you and your family.
For me, recognizing and facing the problem immediately opens the door to healing and resolution. Once the problem is recognized, it’s time to break down the emotions attached to the issue. I have found success using a pen and paper, or an IPhone note pad application. For example, a job is lost unexpectedly. The mind can race constantly to a point of convincing yourself that the world is out to get you, that this is completely someone else’s fault, and life is so unfair. Especially for you. Sitting in bed and allowing the mind to spin out of control is detrimental to your mental and physical health. Calling everyone in your contact list may help you talk about the problem, but once you hang up the phone, your friends’ lives keep moving, while yours is stuck in neutral. Take control of those thoughts and open your mind. Opening the mind will allow you to accept. Choose to be well.
- Write down five reasons why you are angry or disappointed.
- Write down parts of your life this problem will impact.
- Write down five reasons why you think this happened to you.
- Write down five ideas/changes to overcome the problem.
- Write down five self-care activities you will do during this stressful period of time. (examples: Join a yoga studio, meditation, whole 30, pedicure/manicure weekly, walks in the morning, volunteer at the dog shelter, visit your parents every Sunday, journal, read a self-help book, start a blog, sign up for a marathon, color your hair…I think you get the point)
As we begin to grow older and face life’s real problems on our own, we must also learn that we choose how to handle the problems that inevitably come up. We cannot handle them the same way we did in college or we would end up being the dramatic and unstable friend everyone is trying to wean out of their lives. Things are going to be tough, life goes up and then it goes down, you know that. Everyone knows that. What everyone doesn’t know is that you can choose how to overcome the problems you face and, most importantly, how to move forward in the best way. Choose to be well, willingly well.