"The only way out is through."
When life hits you hard, how do you get back up? Life brings on a number of circumstances that feel like hard knock downs-illness, death, career changes, breakups, loss, financial challenges, injustice, and so much more. Part of being a human being means having to experience these difficult times. Experiencing these hard times is only a part of the human experience, not the whole thing. No matter what has happened in your life, you always have the power to overcome challenges and move through your pain to get to a better emotional, physical, and spiritual place.
When life knocks you down, you have a few options…
Option #1: Stay knocked down: You’re shocked or paralyzed by the knockdown. You fear getting up in worry you’ll get pushed back down again.
Option #2: Get up but keep going back to where you fell. You got up and have tried to continue on but you’re struggling to make strides forward. You feel pulled back to the memory of the hardship or the stories you’ve created about the knockdown.
Option #3: Get up and move forward: You stand up, take time to process and heal from your hard time, and then move forward with more strength and resilience. Getting up and moving forward doesn’t mean you don’t look back at where you got knocked down every once in a while; instead, it means you have continued success in healing and growing.
How do we choose or work towards option #3? Read below on three action steps for standing up and staying up after hard times.
1. Feeling & Expression Time
When life gets really hard, and it will, it’s important to take time to feel and express your painful or uncomfortable emotions and thoughts. Repressing our emotions and thoughts is not only a dated and ineffective method of coping, but it can lead to many negative physical and emotional manifestations like tense muscles, headaches, digestive issues, decreased immune function, insomnia, decreased sex drive, weight gain or loss, and other forms of dis (ease). Repressing emotions can also lead to mental health issues like anxiety, depression, shame, or guilt. Repressing or ignoring our feelings can also impact our future relationships with others and with ourselves, as it can lead to a lack of trust, vulnerability, empathy, or other emotions that connect and comfort the human heart. Sometimes we feel we need to put our feelings aside to get through certain moments initially, going into a brief survival mode for the sake of others or for ourselves. Once you are finally out of the throws of geared-up survival mode, try your very best to express your feelings in any safe way that works for you. As long as you aren’t hurting others or yourself then you are expressing your feelings in a healthy way.
Examples of Feeling & Expression Time
Cry, scream, laugh, punch a pillow, jump up and down, move your body
Talk with a friend, family member, therapist, or wellness professional
Write out your feelings by journaling or writing other creative work
Create art: paint, draw, collage, build something DIY
Breathwork: Incorporate breath awareness and conscious breathing to feel into and process more challenging feelings.
2. Uplevel Your Energy
Uplevelling your energy means taking strategic steps towards trying to boost your mood and feel better with awareness and action. Take some time to think about and be open to trying activities that you know are good for your emotional, physical, or spiritual health. Choose, schedule, and stick to planned activities even if you don’t feel like it initially. We can feel hesitant to add something new or go back to something old that we enjoy when we’re going through hard times. In our darkest moments, we can often be very resistant to getting out of our comfort zone or our familiar pain, but with the encouragement from loved ones and ultimately yourself, you will be able to participate in (and truly benefit from) these nourishing activities.
"When a very hard life event knocked me down, I was extremely resistant to try a dance class my friend had been begging me to attend with her; after weeks of resistance and “I’m not ready or good enough” statements, I finally attended the class. The dance class not only surrounded me with a group of inspiring and strong women, but made me laugh, move my body, sign up for more classes, and help me springboard into a space of self-healing, self-love, and joy. The hardest part of taking time to uplevel your energy can be taking the first step to start. It might be hard and you might be resistant, but you will get there."
-Michelle Eggink NTP
Examples of how you can uplevel your energy:
Move your body-Run, walk, stretch, dance, lift weights, swim, practice yoga/pilates/qigong, play a sport, or try something that gets you moving in any way your body allows for.
Eat well-Nourish yourself and your cells with whole, nutrient-dense foods. “Comfort food” is only comforting for so long as large amounts of highly processed or less nutritious food can drain you of your energy. Ensure that you are eating a balanced amount of food, as hard times can lead to not eating enough or overeating. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality protein and fat so you can fuel your body with adequate nutrients.
Be cognizant of alcohol, smoking, and other addicting vices. Hard times can have us hitting the vices real hard for obvious reasons. However, an obsession or overconsumption of anything isn’t good for our energy or for are long-term emotional or physical health.
Schedule fun activities-Take that cooking class you’ve always wanted to take, call up your old bandmates to jam, take a trip, play or learn an instrument, or go to a comedy show that will make you laugh.
Take time for calming & comforting activities-Read, nap, sit outside, take a bath, or participate in something that will relax your mind and body.
Holistic Healing Sessions-Try acupuncture, massage, meditation & breathwork, intuitive energy healing, or other services that will help you elevate your energy. See our center’s services for more energy lifting activities.
Avoid the Cave of Isolation-Going into a cave of complete isolation can lead to overthinking and be counterintuitive to your healing process. While we all need some alone time, support from others is essential, especially when we are going through hard times. It doesn’t matter how introverted or extroverted you are, you still need to feel a sense of support or belonging. Know that asking for help or support is the farthest thing from being weak; asking for help or community support actually shows a great deal of strength, vulnerability, and emotional maturity.
Join a Group-There are all kinds of support groups for specific issues such as grief, addiction, heartbreak, and more. There are also specific interest groups and clubs that gather to express their love or enjoyment of a specific activity (e.g. running clubs, hiking groups, book clubs, etc.).
Pellegrino Healing Center hosts a monthly women’s circle with a different theme each month so women can gather, meditate, journal, and connect with one another. See our upcoming women’s circle on navigating change and life transitions on our events page.
3. Stillness, Reflection, & Check-In
While staying active is incredibly important when it comes to getting through a hard time, you also still need to take time for stillness and reflection. Stillness and reflection time can be taken in any way that serves you best. You can sit or walk by yourself as you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. You can ask yourself what you need, how you are feeling, or what you can further do to support yourself. Checking in with yourself about how you are feeling is a healthy way to continue your healing and decrease emotional setbacks.
It’s also very easy to get caught up in a busy schedule to distance yourself from challenging emotions, but be cognizant of using a busy schedule to fully avoid or repress those emotions; taking time to get quiet so you can give your thoughts and feelings the attention they deserve is essential. Try to balance independent time with time with others, giving you needed stillness and reflection, while also benefiting from your support system.
Ways to Reflect & Be Still:
Meditation: You can do this silently or with a guided meditation. See our Meditation & Breathwork Sessions here.
Mindfulness Activity: Check in with how your body and mind feel in the present moment, bringing all of your awareness to your thoughts and bodily sensations without judgment.
Breathwork: Incorporate breath awareness and conscious breathing to help calm your nervous system
Journal: Write out your thoughts, feelings, and goals as a form of release and accountability.
Hard times and challenging moments can make us feel angry, defeated, depressed, anxious, ill, and so much more. Know that no matter what has happened to you, or what you’ve been through, you are always worthy of love and feeling better. I invite you to pull yourself up or put your hand out for help. I invite you to pull purpose from pain in any way that you can. I invite you to try your absolute best to stand up and stay up. You will build resilience, strength, and character every time you rise up, so keep going, keep breathing, and keep strong. Believe me when I say that this hardship will move you to the next phase of life that you are meant to be in, a phase that will bring on so much more growth, healing, and elevation. The only way out is through.
Stand up and stay up. You can do it.