How To Deal When Your Life Is In Shambles

We all go through rough patches and everyone's life is (occasionally) in shambles. In this post we work through 13 doable, life-turn-around-ing things you can to today. Click through for more >> yesandyes.org

This lovely guest post is brought to you by the lovely Amy of The Anxious Hippie. She writes about life, inspiration,  and million other great things. I bet she’d love it if you dropped by and said hello!

 There’s no science here, to what to do once things have really fallen apart. This guide could seem like a waste of time to you, but this is what worked for me. Try what sounds like you, and leave the rest.

1. Admit that things suck right now.

I wasted so much energy trying to put on a happy face when things were bad. Once I finally admitted that I felt sad, lonely, worthless and confused about what I was doing with my life when it all fell apart, I felt like a weight was lifted. This doesn’t mean wallow in it—it means admit it and use it as a point to move forward from.

2. Remember who you are/were.

There’s that classic part of the movie Runaway Bride where she has to figure out how she likes her eggs and in the end, realizes she loves eggs benedict. One of the hardest parts of losing what I knew and loved was that I felt as if I’d forgotten who I was before.
I spent a lot of time reclaiming those things that were close to my heart: I read, wrote, started blogging, did crafty things, cooked, went to hot yoga and hung out in coffee shops. I did the things that made me tick and I started to feel a lot better.

3. Get on a schedule!

If you’re anything like me, when you’re down, you spend a lot of time alone, in front of the TV, eating, moping and doing nothing. I used to set a daily schedule of what I’d do after work. I tried to set small goals like, “Tonight, I will bake cookies and wash my sheets.” When I felt like I had something to achieve, my alone time seemed less alone, and more purposeful.

4. Reach out.

I kick myself over and over again for not reaching out sooner to the amazing family and friends I have for help during the struggles and end of my marriage. I know that there were many times I didn’t feel like talking but I wanted company. If you do feel like talking about it, find a few people you can trust and confide in. Be vulnerable and don’t bear it alone.

The truth is, everyone’s going to be in a bad spot some time, as awful as it sounds. If that’s overwhelming for you, find some people online to connect with. Go hang out in a coffee shop or bar just to be around others. Don’t hide.

5. If you’re overwhelmed and stressed, figure out what’s MOST stressful, and fix that first.

For me, this was financial. I’d been very naive when it came to paying bills because my ex did it. My job as a massage therapist was incredibly unsteady and I loved to spend money. I finally came to the conclusion that my expenses to live were more than what I was making, so I moved in with a roommate.
If you hate your job, work on changing that; if it’s a relationship, get out. Tackle this like you would any good to-do list: do the toughest, biggest one first.

6. Get over yourself.

Gandhi says, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Find a way to do something that’s not just about you.
For me, working at the group home and being a teacher got my head out of my own issues and on to others. So did caring for my cat, and yeah, I know that’s lame. Some people choose to volunteer. Basically, do something outside of yourself to get your mind off your own stuff.

7. Try new things.

I did a million different things when my heart was healing. I took Nia classes, went to figure drawing, went to lunch/dinner/movies by myself, went out dancing at clubs for the first time, and tried to experience as much life as I could.
Some of it is stuff I’d never do again, but I did discover a new love of watercolor paints, the club and doing things alone. Try to re-frame this time as a time of discovery and adventure where you have few things or people holding you back.

Related: Trying times are for trying new things

8. Take good physical care of yourself.

Eat well, get sleep and break a sweat regularly. Oh, and let’s be real: don’t drink too much! I ate well for awhile, and then slowly got caught up with eating poorly and going out waaayyy too much. When I finally got it together physically, I felt like a huge cloud was lifted.

9. Sit with your feelings.

If you feel sad, let yourself feel sad, no judgment. If you feel angry, feel angry. Don’t beat yourself up for having emotions. I know I used to tell myself that “I should be over this by now” or “I’m stupid for letting this affect me.” Pretty sure that those feelings just mean that you’re human. That’s it.

10. Don’t run your mouth about the other person/situation.

I think it’s really tempting during a divorce, break-up, firing, loss of a friendship, etc. to want to bash them to anyone with ears. But seriously? Don’t.

It gets blown out of proportion and makes you look like a jerk. I don’t mean don’t tell anyone: believe you me, I’ve shared “the rest of the story” with a lot of people, just be smart.Don’t be that person who brings down everyone’s night at the bar by whining about your horrible ex. Also, remember: what goes around comes around AND it always gets back to the person.

11. If you need help, get it.

I realize this is a cliche, but if you’re depressed and feel like you can’t climb out of it, than get professional help. It used to humiliate me to admit that I’ve seen a therapist, but the truth is, therapy and meds saved my life.
Depression is part of my story (and something I’ll likely blog about in the future) but even if you’re not sure that you have the disease, there’s nothing wrong with talking to someone unbiased and objective to sort things out.

12. Get out of the bitter barn and play in the hay.

Many of my journal entries from this time are simply lists of the good things going on. Even small things like, “I found matching socks” or “I’m still alive” can get you thinking about all the good things. Try and find whatever good you can, even if it’s small. It’ll change the way you think.

13. Take the long view.

Look to the future. Circumstances are short, really. They don’t last forever. Use this time as a springboard to create the kind of life that you want. I did a lot of dreaming and planning and list-making about how I wanted things to be different.

And then, I tried to put them into action. I’m still working on some, but my life now looks a lot more like the life I’ve always wanted than the one I used to have.

Look ahead, and vow to yourself that you’ll learn, and do better. Because now you know what you’re worth and what you want, and hopefully you’ll be figuring out how to make it happen.

How do you deal when your life is a mess? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!

P.S. Life has big plans for you + What to do when people disappoint you (or act like dillwads or a-holes) 

29 Comments

Starling

Thanks for sharing this, Amy. I can't help wishing I'd had it when I was going through my own bad patch, although (knowing me) I probably wouldn't have listened then. All of these are what finally got me through it, though I'm still working on #9. It's nice to be reminded that this is an ongoing process.

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David Mariuzzo

Thanks for this post, it really help me, im not feeling very good these days but after reading this i will try to do something new… thanks, really 🙂

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meliasaurus

I've been waking up in the morning and feeling very irritable. Not just grumpy but looking for a fight. Bottles falling over or icy patches just piss me off. I ended up yelling at some employees at my university today because they wouldn't accept my ID. Then I felt like an ass and didn't want to go back to the testing center.
Does anyone have advice about how to deal with anger? I can't think of another time when I've felt very angry with out reason.

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Amy --- Just A Titch

Meliasaurus, anger was a huge part of my "stuff." I found that talking about why I was angry and dealing with it instead of stuffing it down was super helpful. I had to do a lot to get to a point where I had some idea of how to be constructive with it.

Chelle Lynn, during this really bad time, I also dealt with a suicide attempt and really bad panic attacks—I needed help desperately. I've been in therapy off and on for a long time now and I can honestly say it saved my life. There's no right time to decide to go, but I knew that I wanted to get better and that I needed help to do that. Now that I'm out of the worst of it, I just pay attention to how I'm feeling, what I'm thinking, etc. If I go through a rough patch that lasts a few weeks, I go back in to work on it. I've never once regretted it.

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Reflections...

heyyy this was really an useful one!!! though some of the stuff are already known…how many people actually seek out doing it…but coming from someone who's been there…it's a lot more encouraging…good one!!!

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Anonymous

Hi Amy, this is brilliant! I'm myself going through a very hard time (boyfriend depressed and so not working, so financial problems as well) and the stress is building up. I like #7 and #8 best, because it's so easy to just eat or drink too much to 'ease the stress', and also to get caught up in it and forget (or not be in the mood) to enjoy life while things are bad. The main thing to remember is #13 – it's short term, everything changes all the time. 'This too shall pass' is a mantra playing in my head all the time, when I'm having a hard day. Sometimes it's hard to remember that, but I try.
Thanks for sharing!!

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Liv

This is such a wonderful post, thank you! Some of my favorite people, truly incredible people are going through some terrible times right now. It seems they're just constantly being kicked when they're down. I've been feeling down in the dumps too despite the fact that when I take stock of my situation, there's really no reason for it. It's a weird combo of sympathy pains and seasonal affective disorder. Thanks for helping to put things in perspective.
Yay for matching socks!

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Carina

Thank you for this! I just went through a firing (but it worked out OK, because I didn't really like my job) and a break-up (not so OK, but I am dealing) in the last month. I'm struggling a little bit, but I know, deep down, I'll be fine eventually.

🙂

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C. Janelle

It's always so refreshing and amazing when someone can be so vulnerable and revealing on such a tough subject with a bunch of strangers. These are the things that people going through rough patches need to hear, and often the things that they don't until after the fact.

Thank you so much for sharing, Amy. You've definitely gone a long way to showing people who are suffering that they really aren't alone.

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Anonymous

thanks so much for sharing this. i stumbled upon your site by accident…or maybe that would be serendipity at play or the universe conspired to make me feel better. in any case, it brought a ray of sunshine on this otherwise very gloomy week. well, it has been really a depressing month for me. it is good to read cheery thoughts and ponder on these while making sense positively of the temporary slump and how to move forward. thanks 🙂

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Anonymous

Thank you for this. As silly as this may sound, upon reading #1 I immediately sent out an email that I had been putting off for weeks. I've been withdrawing and ignoring everything in the hope that things will get better… even though I know they won't unless I tell someone who can help. So again, thanks.

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UnknownTruth

number one and nine i believe in this too. great the way you put things. i love people like you who write real and honest thank you so much.

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Anonymous

I had a baby firl a few months ago. Although i love her more than anything, I suffered from postpartum depression for a while. I have slowly, but surely became happier and it started with number one. My boyfriend and i just came out and said neither of us were happy. Instead of nagging and bickering at each other were working together to find a solution. Since we have only been together for a year i know we have a looong time to go but just getting that off my chest felt better beyond belief. And to know i wasnt alone, that felt great too. It reminded us we can find things in each other that make us happy.

Thank you for posting this. I struggle with #5 but ill figure it out someday.

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Anonymous

I came across this post while looking for some positive reinforcement during a pretty rough time. Most of the blogs I find like this are kind of cheesy and focus on external things to enhance one’s life. I found this to be rather refreshing. Especially that you addressed that it’s okay to admit that things aren’t going so well or as planned. That part, as you said, is almost liberating in a sense. Realizing that you don’t have to pretend to yourself that you are content with your current circumstances makes the fact that things are falling apart easier to manage.

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L

Overall, good advice for the small stuff. Of course, somethings aren’t rectified so easily or have no “fix” such as being thrown into a caregiving situation with the sick or elderly.

Then you must abide and manage everything else around you.

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john

I’ve felt worthless, like no one needs me for me just what I have.why wont anyone in my house help me?

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