Life is a rollercoaster. It can go from being sunshine and lollypops to poop buckets of DOOM! real freakin’ fast. Life doesn’t really pull any punches and has a penchant for going straight for the gut without any warning.
Getting served one of life’s patented gut punches in inevitable and there’s not much we can do to control it. We do however have control over how we react. So… what do you do when shit hits the fan?
Some people fall apart dramatically while others opt to bottle their emotions and put on a fake smile while they die slowly on the inside. They’re both messes. One is just more transparent while the other is a ticking time bomb. Neither of these are great options.
When the shit storm hits, we need to think about the pain like an open wound.
Ignoring it and pretending it doesn't exist is a bad idea. The wound will get infected and it’s going to scar. Catastrophizing and poking it repeatedly is also a bad idea! Again with the infection and scarring. The best thing to do is to acknowledge that it exists and take care of it properly.
There is a bit of an art to processing pain. I’m no master but I’ve collected some guidelines to help navigate the shit storm. I like to call it “A Guide to Falling Apart”.
Connect with friends and family:
A good support system in important, no matter how stubborn you may be.
If your natural reaction is to go through this alone then be sure to challenge that. Rough times bring people together. I’m not saying that just because it sounds good. Our bodies release Oxytocin when we are stressed. Oxytocin does a lot of things and it is most commonly known as “the bonding hormone”. So, when shit hits the fan, our bodies are actually wired to connect with other people.
Call up a friend or family member. Reaching out can be kind of scary but you may just have to take that leap. We can’t just expect these people to be freakin’ mind readers!
Make sure you get all the help you need.
If the amount of shit that has hit the fan is just too much for you to handle alone, consider getting some counselling. There is zero shame in getting help. Friends and family are amazing support pillars but sometimes you need to call in the professionals.
Stay physically active:
Endorphins and shit. They’re good for you!
Often, when we feel that our lives are a mess, our first reaction is to curl up on the couch and fall into ever-present and ever-dark pit of despair. But it’s important to stay active!
Try to be active for a least ten minutes a day.
You don’t need to go to the gym and pump iron for hours (unless that’s your thing in which case… go you!) There are plenty of ways you can start a home practice or workout routine. There are plenty of resources to do this! In fact, you could check out this 7 Day Rage Yoga Challenge.
Stay mentally active:
Take this as an opportunity to learn something new.
It’s pretty common for our brains to obsess and begin catastrophizing the situation. Learning a new skill gives your mind something else to process, even if it is only for moments at a time. The point isn’t to immerse yourself so fully that you ignore the initial problem. Instead, think about it like taking a rest from the pain, a temporary distraction so that you’re stronger when you come back to the pain.
A prime personal example: after a recent breakup I began to learn how to hula hoop dance! It gave me a challenge and something new to focus on. It really helped me stay sane during the most painful early stages. Also… it’s pretty badass! I highly recommend it. Check out my friend Safire’s Online Hooping Classes.
Be a mess:
Feelings suck sometimes… but they’re healthy!
People spend a lot of time running away from uncomfortable emotions. This is a shit practice. If we bottle all this shit up then one day it’ll just spontaneously explode. Then there will be shit everywhere and no one wants that!
It’s not a fun feeling to be hurt and vulnerable.
In fact, allowing yourself to feel these emotions can be super scary. Feeling takes a lot more courage than bottling does! But our discomfort has a lot to teach us if we can process it in a healthy way. Sometimes that means just letting yourself hurt.
Be patient & make space:
Healing doesn’t happen overnight.
Be nice to yourself and cut yourself some slack. There is going to be an undetermined amount of time where things are just harder to do. It will be harder to tackle your to-do list or work projects. Allow room for that!
If you can lighten your task load then you’ll be better for it, instead of getting frustrated with yourself when you struggle to complete things. Leftover tasks can pile up and make you feel even more like shit. Time does some amazing things but it doesn’t do them right away. In the meantime, cut yourself some damn slack!
Practice some self care
Try to stay on top of the basics.
When we’re struggling, it’s really easy to forget about the basics of self care. Brushing your teeth, washing your face, wearing clean clothes, taking a freakin’ shower… Suddenly these simple acts become as complicated as Frodo’s adventure in Lord of the Rings.
How hard should it be to remember to feed yourself?
Well they made three movies about throwing a ring into a volcano. Simple things become difficult! But if you can stay on top of the basics and remember to take care of yourself then you’ll be more likely to make a speedier recovery from the shit storm.
Really, life is a rollercoaster. You just gotta ride it.
Remember to breathe. Remember that you are enough.
“Be confused, it’s where you begin to learn new things.
Be broken, it’s where you begin to heal.
Be frustrated, it’s where you start to make more authentic decisions.
Be sad, because if we are brave enough, we can hear our heart’s own wisdom through it.
Be whatever you are right now. No more hiding. You are worthy. Always.”