Five Life-Hacks for Hard Times

For those of us prone to anxiety and depression, a lot of us get bogged down by hard times. Sometimes, life just feels fucking heavy and overwhelming.

How many of you wake up with a feeling of dread for all of the things you HAVE to do – knowing you did not get enough sleep, and fearing you just won’t be able to get it all done?

And worse yet, how many of you go to bed, exhausted from the day (of trying under half-steam), hoping to get a good night’s rest and find yourself unable to sleep?

I won’t ask for a show of hands, but I know you’re out there. These conditions are more common than I think people realize.

Welcome to human race!

There are plenty of people out there who will give you solid advice about screen time, supplements, nutrition, etc. I am not a doctor, but I play one on TV 😉 (not really). So, I’m not going to give you medical advice.

I’m merely going to share what works for me. Maybe it’ll work for you? Give it a shot. What have you got to lose (more sleep or peace of mind)?

Some of these life-hacks you’ve undoubtedly heard, and moreover, decided you didn’t want to or couldn’t do them.

I submit that today, you decide to stop making excuses for yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone (one moment at a time) until you learn new habits.

It’ll take less time than you think to start feeling better.

1. Practice Radical Acceptance

Sometimes things just suck. Resisting what’s happening in life keeps you miserable. Resisting may sound like, “This shouldn’t be happening.”

Radical Acceptance is a skill from Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT) in which you practice accepting things as they are, not as you wish them to be.

So, you wake up in pain, tired, lonely, or anxious. Rather than spiraling out in a myriad of thoughts about how much this sucks, or what a failure you think you are, or how people don’t like you, choose to feel the feeling in your body and give yourself permission to feel it with self-compassion.

One practice I’ve learned from Tara Brach is to place your hand on your heart and say, “I consent to this feeling. I care about this suffering.”

Acceptance is not the same as liking how we feel – it’s just a mindful approach to allowing it in order to let it go. The more we grasp onto our uncomfortable feelings and believe we shouldn’t feel that way, the more the feelings and thoughts stick and make us suffer.,

Resistance to the storm is the storm… Lean in to what is with self-compassion.

2. Stop Snoozing!

Just like Life Hack Number One, begin the morning accepting that it’s time to get up. The whole energy of our morning can be shifted to feeling good about ourselves by resisting the urge to snooze.

Hitting snooze is starting out the day failing!

That may be a hard pill to swallow for you.

Let me repeat it….

Hitting snooze is starting out the day failing!

For years, I resisted getting out of bed. Most mornings, my first thought is still that I don’t want want to get up when the alarm goes off.

I think things like, “I was having a nice dream, I NEED more rest, I can skip (fill in the blank) and be ready for work on time.”

By pushing yourself to get up when you don’t feel like it, by ignoring your half-asleep rationalizations, you develop a mental and emotional toughness that becomes a habit.

Make yourself accountable for getting up without hitting snooze. Tell a friend or put a sticky note on your mirror that reminds you, “Don’t start the day failing.”

Stop hitting snooze and start the day winning. You’ll thank yourself for the esteem boost this gives you.

**Side note: Make your bed as soon as you get out of it, too.

Start the day with a success!

3. Meditate Daily

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they can’t meditate. The usual response is, “I can’t get my mind to be quiet. I have too many thoughts.”

I have a little secret for you… THAT’S NORMAL!

The human mind has thousands of thoughts per day. It’s what our mind does.

Another excuse I hear about meditation is, “I can’t find time for it.”

The truth is you are not making time for it because it’s not important to you.

Meditation can be as little as one minute.

Do you have time to scroll on your phone or watch your favorite show on Netflix?

Can you spare one minute from that to learn how to feel better during stressful times?

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing what you’re currently doing is not reducing your stress. What have you got to lose by learning how to meditate?

You already know how to meditate, you just don’t know it yet.

There are as many forms of meditation as there are people meditating.

There is nearly an unlimited supply of guided meditations through apps or YouTube – and they’re FREE!

The benefit of consistently practicing meditation daily, is you become the observer of your thoughts and feelings and learn to let them go.

Freedom of our spirit (heart or whatever you want to call it) comes from the realization that you are not your thoughts and feelings.

Don’t believe everything you think!

Notice the thought and feeling and watch it pass like a cloud floating by…

Once you learn to observe, feel, and let go of your thoughts and feelings through daily meditation practice, your anxiety and depression will loosen their hold…

In the words of the Buddha, “Let that shit go!”

4. Cold Water Is Your Friend

Chances are you do not agree with me on this. Hear me out 🙂

In times of severe stress (dysregulation), when you’re freaking out, panicking, and don’t know if you can handle one more damn moment of what’s going on, dunk your face in cold water!

There’s actual science backing up this idea. When you’re triggered and in Fight, Flight, or Freeze mode, your sympathetic nervous system is preparing you for some kind of threat. Adrenaline is pumping and you’re primed for the bear in your head that’s coming to get you.

When you dunk your head in cold water (like ice water), this activates your parasympathetic nervous system which sends out hormones that slow your heart beat down and make you feel calmer. This is also called the “Dive-Reflex.”

In old movies, they would always throw cold water in someone’s face who was acting hysterical. Or they’d dunk their head in a horse watering trough. We’ve known this little secret for a while.

If you’re adverse to dunking your head in a bowl of ice water for 30 seconds, you can use a cold wash cloth or a package of peas or corn from the freezer. Put it on your face and put your head below your heart for 30 seconds. It will drastically calm you down.

If you want to increase your tolerance for discomfort and wake up really well, take cold showers in the morning. I’ve just recently started doing this, and was not 100% sold on it at first.

However, I’ve learned there are many health benefits to taking cold showers (and it gets easier with practice). Cold showers reduce your heart rate. Taking cold showers gave me the confidence that I can withstand difficult things.

Cold water puts things in perspective and reduces stress.

5. Move Your Body!

You’ll notice I did not say, “Exercise.” I didn’t because people have so much bias against exercising.

But what I really meant is you have to exercise.

Call it whatever you want, but the science proves that regularly moving our bodies improves our mental health.

From my own experience, I spent years sitting on my ass in front a computer or on the couch watching TV, and I felt miserable.

Just like anything else, starting a new habit can suck and be hard. We have to have a good enough “Why” to do it.

Personally, I’m in my mid-forties, and I don’t want to live a life of regret and chronic pain when I’m older. I also have struggled with anxiety and suicidal depression most of my life, and when I look back, my happiest times have been when I’m regularly physically active.

What’s holding you back? What excuse are you telling yourself?

Make a decision and do it. Remember, don’t believe your thoughts!

Take literal baby steps. You don’t have to go out and join a gym (unless that’ll help you motivate). Get up and go for a five-minute walk outside. If you can’t walk for five minutes, walk for one minute. If you can’t walk for one minute, just stand up and sit down. If you can’t stand up and sit down, raise your arms up and down. If you can’t do that open and close your hands.

Do something!

Do a little everyday and your strength and confidence will improve.

Do a little everyday and your stress will decrease.

Do nothing and nothing will change or things will get worse.

You decide.

**Here’s a pro-tip:

If you find yourself completely stressed out and panicking (and don’t have access to cold water):

Do paired muscle relaxation. This is another DBT skill wherein you tighten two muscles for five seconds (or longer), then release them.

For instance, tighten your fists for five seconds, then release.

Tighten your legs for five to ten seconds, then release.

You can also do a wall squat wherein you put your back against a wall and slide down until you look like you’re sitting on an invisible chair. Get those quads burning for five to 30 seconds. This will also reduce your heart rate and help you calm down after you’re done.

Life is hard, but you make it harder than it needs to be. With these life hacks and a change in attitude your life will become easier and you will feel better.

Remember, you are not your thoughts!

Life is not happening TO you, but FOR you!

If you like what you read or have any comments or questions, subscribe to this blog and drop me an email at david@greenleaf4life.blog.

Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful day! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: