How to survive when our life falls apart?

29 August, 2019 / Mateusz

We have all experienced sadness, fear, regret or anger. These emotions usually stem from loss, either someone or something very close to us. Difficult times happen to everyone and cannot be avoided, but, despite this, we cannot get an absentee note for a broken heart or after an argument with a partner. The emotions we suffer from these situations can discourage and dishearten, overwhelm us to the point of becoming unmotivated. How can we undergo difficult situations without sacrificing what’s important to us? Here are some strategies from psychotherapists.

Life can be ruthless, regardless of our status or current set of circumstances. Painful experiences happen to everyone, and there are hundreds of situations in which we feel “uncomfortable” emotions. How we deal with them depends largely on our previous experience, upbringing and genetic predisposition. When our defensive mechanisms fail to protect us from pain, depression usually emerges, along with its suppressed stress, anxiety, pain, regret or anger. These emotions often include the truth about our real needs, so action is required.

Leave the house

Depression or melancholy are sneaky beasts. When we struggle with a low mood and lack of motivation, we often torment ourselves with negative thinking, such as, “no one likes me”, “no partner could stand my behaviour”, “I will never get anywhere”, “my life is a series of failures”. Does this sound familiar? When we feel overwhelmed by the difficult situation, we overload ourselves with bad emotions, leading straight to the next hole. Sitting alone in front of the TV screen, perhaps accompanied by a bottle of wine, we have no chance to encounter the perspective that new places and new people will bring us. According to psychotherapists, leaving home is crucial at such moments and it is a big step in the fight against a nervous breakdown. Establishing an emotional bond with other people, talking about ordinary, everyday matters or laughing in the company of friends, is a greater gift than we might imagine. Our body and nervous system then start to act quite differently – finally, serotonin and dopamine come to the fore, which are also responsible for improved mood and motivation to keep ongoing.

Expectations vs possibilities

Disappointments are usually the result of our expectations not being met. If we don’t focus on a preconceived result, the joy of a positive ending is doubled. However, we can feel deep disappointment if, for example, we expect the holiday of a lifetime, and the reality turns out to be very different from the photos presented on the internet. Think of your mind as the operating system in your computer – when everything is fine, you operate with confidence, but when your “memory” is all sadness, regrets and stress – the computer runs slower, freezes and shows error messages. If everything in our life goes smoothly, then we become accustomed to this level of ease. However, when things unexpectedly go wrong this can only intensify frustration, which is why it is very important to let go, not expect too much and appreciate even the smallest efforts. We should, therefore, set goals that are specific, measurable and time-bound. A good plan will reduce anxiety and overwhelming feelings.

Sleep, sleep and sleep again

Good sleep is a condition of health. It regenerates the body, restores energy and delays ageing processes. In addition, it reduces the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and slows down the body’s functions. During sleep, the damaged organs are repaired. Studies have shown that the need for sleep is stronger than the need for food. However, many factors affect the quality and length of sleep, and stress is one of the most important ones. Insomnia affects the deterioration of physical and mental performance for the next day. Conducted research also indicates that there is an increased secretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline in people who have trouble falling asleep, i.e. stress hormones, sometimes also called “hormones of fear, fight and flight”. If your problems are keeping you awake, try sleeping under a weighted blanket instead of a normal one. It has a slightly heavier filling (about 10-15% of the wearer’s body weight) which increases the secretion of serotonin (happiness hormone) while reducing the production of stress hormone (cortisol). Furthermore, you can cover yourself with it during the day, in the car or at work, and after two weeks your nervous system will work completely differently.