Good physical health is most often tied to a sense of good mental and emotional wellness. However, when challenging situations and circumstances happen in life, we are provided with a crossroads which can affect both mental and physical wellbeing.
One leg leads to a path of purposeful and adaptive thought processes, ultimately producing peaceful resolution and continuance. Whereas the other path can often compound problems, invoke hard feelings, inflict emotional pain, prolong grief, and even create long-term consequences for actions or inactions. Ask yourself, which path do you typically choose?
Human nature compels us to seek a ready means of easing mental/emotional stress while countering pain with pleasure. Unfortunately, it is all too often that the most readily available coping mechanisms are of the unhealthy variety.
At one point in my own life, I gravitated toward food (especially sweets) to cope with problems. As a result, my weight topped out at a whopping 354 pounds! Ultimately, I was trading one set of problems for another.
I am most certainly not credentialed as a mental health practitioner. However, in 20-plus years as a wellness professional and certified life coach, I have had numerous opportunities to share in, witness, and coach clients through many of their challenges and tragedies.
This experience combined with formal education, and what I have learned first-hand in my own life is what inspires the informed perspective that I have to share with you today. I hope that you will take away useful ideas that will help you to positively cope with life’s stormy seas.
Tips for Choosing the Better Path
Remind Yourself That If You’re Going Through Hell – Do Not Stop!
Though bad situations are difficult, life still moves forward, and you need to prepare for the next chapter. To allow yourself to become bogged down in current circumstances can prolong stress and leave you unprepared to manage what the next day brings.
Seek Support from Others in Similar Situations
Whether it be in a grief support group, widow’s/widower’s club, singles groups, weight loss forum, etc. Relatability goes a long way in finding constructive pathways to resolution. Few situations are often unique. The experience of others who have traveled the same path can prove incredibly useful in providing ideas to navigate hardship.
Establish Positive Coping Mechanisms
Food, alcohol, illicit drugs, pornography, and even isolation are all examples of common destructive coping mechanisms. Rather, choosing things that are creative, recreational, healthy, and contributory (like volunteerism) provide much healthier means of positive reinforcement. Choosing this approach also limits the likelihood of exchanging one problem for another or creating compounding consequences.
Open the Flood Gates of Communication!
Whether it be talking to a friend, family member, counselor, or even just writing your thoughts/feelings in a journal. The act of openly communicating what you are dealing with can be incredibly liberating.
It is best to write emotionally charged thoughts/feelings in a journal first. This provides you an opportunity to express those feelings and place them in suspended media while deciding whether or not sharing with others would be beneficial.
Prepare Your Mind and Body for the Day Ahead
Beginning each day with just a half-hour of meditation and deep breathing exercises produces a significant difference in how both your mind and your body handle and cope with stressful situations. This practice has also been shown to counter the adverse effects of elevated cortisol (stress hormones) on mood and metabolism.
Regardless of your age or life experience, nobody is immune to life’s challenges. However, when provided with your next crossroads – I hope you feel inspired and empowered to choose the path to a healthy sense of peace.
What was the most recent crossroads that you experienced? How did you decide which way to go? Looking back, do you think you made the right decision?