Life is filled with ups and downs; it can often feel like a rollercoaster. It can be difficult to manage both the highs and the lows. When we are down, we don’t always know how to cope. When we are feeling good, we might end up spending that time worried about when things will take a turn for the worse. We can find more emotional stability by learning to better manage both the highs and the lows. More effectively navigating both the ups and downs also leads to more highs than lows, which overall creates a happier life.
How to Better Manage the Downs in Life:
When things are hard, people often feel like it will last forever and there is no end in sight. That can extend the intensity and duration of feeling down. If you can learn how to more easily work through the tough times, it does not feel as bad and you can more quickly get back up. Here are some things you can do to help:
• Look for the light at the end of the tunnel: Find a small ray of hope to help you get through. A lot of times, just remembering that it takes time to heal, process, and grieve helps you accomplish this. When you are dealing with a concrete, identifiable stressor, think about when it will be over and remind yourself that you’re almost at the end. For example, when someone is in school, finals often create high stress. When that pressure starts to show, it can help to think something like “I just have to get through May 24th, that’s just two weeks away.”
• Remember a time when you felt similarly and then things got better: Being that life is a rollercoaster, we often encounter stress and difficulties and eventually get through. Each time we enter that state, people tend to forget that they have done it before. Therefore, reminding yourself of these times builds resiliency and helps you have more confidence in yourself and know that the situation will get better.
• Come up with an encouraging mantra: Being your own cheerleader can have a profound impact on your mental health. Telling yourself things like “I can do this,” “I am doing my best and that’s enough,” and “I am capable and can handle this,” will allow for you to stay positive and encouraged, making it easier to get through tough times.
• Have a confidant: Many times, when things are bad, the urge is to bottle everything up and isolate oneself. This will usually just make you feel worse and more hopeless. Have one or two people that you know you can go talk to in these times and make sure to reach out when necessary.
• Learn coping skills: This step itself can fill hundreds of pages. Everyone has different things that work best for them, and tailoring these skills to each specific situation can be most effective. Overall, the idea is to build your coping skills tool box. You can do this by subscribing to blogs, reading self-help books, and doing a google search. If you find this is still a struggle, as it is for many people, you might want to consider joining a support group or seeking out therapeutic help.
How To Better Manage the Highs of Life:
This might seem like a no brainer; you might be thinking “why would it be hard to manage something good?!?” However, many times, going through something good brings change and anxiety that makes it hard to actually enjoy and feel positive. Here are some things you can do to ensure making the most out of life when everything feels good:
• Stop waiting for the other shoe to drop: When things are going well, many people have a tendency to feel anxious about when there will be a turn for the worst. This can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy because your mindset is more focused on the negative and looking for the downside. Ultimately, you can create a downward spiral if you are looking for it,, essentially creating more lows than highs. Remember that life does have hard times, but let that be the exception rather than the norm. When you find yourself thinking things along the lines of “when will things get worse,” or “this won’t last,” stop and tell yourself that it is ok when times get tough, but for now you are happy and will enjoy it!
• Practice mindfulness: this is a way you can stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Being mindful means living in the present moment. When you do so, you enjoy life when it is good, instead of spending that time in an anxious state. You can also create more “good times,” because mindfulness helps you to shy away from devoting your thoughts to the negative. You can practice mindfulness by consciously choosing to put your attention on the present moment, focusing on your current experience and what you observe and feel through your five senses. Utilizing deep breathing and meditative techniques is a great way to be mindful.
• Express gratitude: Make time each day to think about what you are thankful for. Starting and ending your day with gratitude can have the best impact. Consider what is going well and what you currently have in your life that you would not be happy to live without. This might include people in your life, job, something you are looking forward to, etc. It can be beneficial to keep a written list to refer to and try and look at it throughout the day.
• Give yourself credit: Don’t forget that it is your strength and effort that keeps you functioning in the world. You have good things going on because you worked for it and got through the struggles life has brought. You can use a mantra here as well. Something more general like “I am strong and capable,” is great or you can be more specific to the things you have accomplished.