I find it hard to cope with my life

At some point, everybody has felt like shouting ‘I CAN’T COPE!!’ in their life.  Having occasional thoughts like this is completely normal.  

Coping with things in your life is something that you do every day, but sometimes the balance can feel like it has tipped and instead of feeling calm and in control and coping well, you can move into not coping; other words associated with this are:

  • I feel overwhelmed

  • My resilience is low

  • I can’t deal with this

  • I have too much on

  • I am sinking

  • I feel buried

  • I am lost

 

Often, when people get to this point, they feel like they just can’t deal with anything else, or take on anything else – and basically feel frozen to the spot.  Sometimes people can feel really down or low and physically unwell too, this is another sign that you’re finding it hard to cope with everyday life, some examples that can be fairly common are:

  • frequent headaches

  • stomach cramps

  • sleeplessness

  • pains in your chest

  • constant worries running through your mind

  • panic attacks

  • feeling short of breath

  • being grumpy with friends or family

  • finding it hard to feel happy

But everyone else copes fine, why not me?

 

Well, this may not be strictly true.  You see what people want you to see – whether that’s pictures posted online, insta or FaceBook stories showing what an amazing time they’re having or whatever else that they are sharing with you.  It is important to remember that everybody has difficult things to cope with in life and everyone has different ways of how they deal with those tricky things. 

 

When you look around at other people's online lives, try to keep in mind, people usually don’t tend to post a picture, story or comment that makes them look bad or shows them having a miserable time.  But, it doesn’t mean that everything is perfect in their world either!

It can really help to try and focus your energy on your world and everything in it, instead of concentrating on other people’s.  

 

Why do I find it hard to cope then?

 

Everyone has different levels to deal with difficult or emotional things.  There will be things in your life that help you cope better.  

We call these ‘protective factors’.  These are things like:

  • what you have already experienced in your life and got through

  • who you have in your “support team” (like parents, siblings, friends, teachers, colleagues, partners, other relations etc)

  • doing regular exercise (brilliant for the brain & body – read the article called ‘I feel anxious’ for more info on why being active has such super positive effects)

  • how much resilience you have (more on this later)

 

Having a bad day doesn’t mean that you don’t or can’t cope with your life either.  Everyone has off days.  How quickly you bounce back from these feelings is what is important.  On the flip side, noticing that you find it really hard to bounce back from things might mean having some extra help would be useful.  You’re reading this, so that’s a great start!

 

There may be things in your life that make you feel like it’s harder to cope.

 

We call these ‘risk factors’.  These are things like:

  • isolating yourself away from friends, not having other people to talk to or share with

  • regularly making unhealthy choices with food, drink or activities

  • having a difficult family unit where you don’t get on with each other or argue a lot

  • if your parents or caregivers are struggling with their own mental and emotional health

  • if you have been bullied or picked on (by friends, peers, co-workers or family)

  • finding emotional release through causing yourself hurt or harm

 

So, you may find it hard to cope with things for lots of different reasons.  Hopefully some of the above makes sense to you.  Remember!   It is normal to feel overwhelmed in life at times.  If you are finding that these kinds of thoughts or feelings are stopping you from living your life in as good, happy and healthy way as you can, then maybe it’s worth chatting to someone you really trust or perhaps to a professional (your GP, a counsellor etc).  

Let’s talk about resilience.

What is it?  Well, how resilient you are generally means how quickly you can recover (feel better, safe and happy again) after a shock or difficult life experience.  Resilience is also about how much you are able to deal with stress and bad things.  We’re not talking about breaking finger nails or your football team not winning a match;  this is about bigger more serious life stuff, like people becoming really ill, when people die, a relationship implodes, you lose a job or any other kind of life stuff that takes you by surprise, and not in a good way!

Everyone has some form of resilience, and often, how resilient you are will change dependent on the day, your mood, what’s happening in your life etc etc.  Sometimes you might feel really knocked over by things and other times you may not feel as bothered – this is totally normal.  

Can I become more resilient?

 

Yes!  The good news is that everyone is able to build up a bigger store of resilience.  There are lots of different ways you can do this. 

Here are some ideas:

  • look after yourself – this means drinking lots of water, eating healthily as much as you can, getting active as often as you are able, having fun and getting good rest and enough sleep

  • pay attention to yourself – listen to what your body and brain are telling you and take notice.  If you are overly tired, really grumpy, feeling unwell, angry a lot – whatever it is, your mind and body are giving you clues about something.  Listen and get ready to take action

  • challenge negative thoughts – our brain has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts a day!  Research has shown that a huge chunk of those thoughts are negative.  When you hear your inside voice saying not nice things, challenge yourself as to whether this is really true or not and if it isn’t, tell that inside voice to go away

  • build a good ‘team’ around you – this can be family members, trusted friends etc.  Having people around you that can help you to smile when you feel down, have fun and be silly with you when you need it, or to just chill with is really powerful to building up resilience.  Knowing that you matter to people and are cared for is a strong message to tell yourself

  • forgive yourself for mistakes – everyone makes mistakes.  You are a human being who is learning every day, you will mess up, this may happen a lot in the course of your life – that is OK.  Accept that and forgive yourself so you can move on without carrying huge rocks of guilt or regret around with you.  Often we can learn a lot about ourselves and other people in the aftermath of a mistake, this can be really positive if you learn to look at through a brighter lens than a dark one

  • think ‘problem solving’ – when we feel in our lowest place, it can also feel like there is no way for us to bounce back (that is no resilience), but if you can challenge this thinking and turn it into how can I solve this for myself, you might find you feel more in control and with more power to change what is happening or at least how you feel about it.  If you have a trusted person in your life, having a chat with them to have a ‘thought shower’ (this means putting your two brains together to see what other solutions you can find) can be a really good way to find a way through

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Hopefully this article offers some useful food for thought.  

If you want to meet up with me to just talk about how you could cope or manage differently with things that overwhelm you – I would love to hear from you.

 

Sometimes just having one or two sessions can be enough to help you learn or practise new ways of thinking and new tools that could make your every-day life a bit easier.

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