When Life Gives You Lemons- How to Deal With Stressful Situations

How to Deal With Stressful Situations

Have you ever had one of those  “why me?” or “why is this happening to me?” moments?

I have. Most recently, a few days ago.

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been MIA for the last couple of days, it’s because I’ve been in a car accident. It was a first, for me as a driver. I wasn’t at fault and thankfully, I’m mostly okay.

Needless to say, it was a stressful couple of days. It’s one of those times in life that makes you realize just how good things were before they went “bad.”  I can’t remember the last time I went through such anxiety.

As I was sitting the ER, waiting, I suddenly felt a panic attack coming. I felt almost as if I was about to have a heart attack and started to experience that “out-of-body” feeling. Anyone who’s experienced a panic attack before knows just how scary that feeling of depersonalization can be. It’s kind of terrifying, to be honest.

I closed my eyes and told myself: just breathe.

BREATHE

This is one of the most important things you have to remember. I talk about things like anxiety and self-care or stress all the time. Thing is, when you find yourself in a really horrible situation, panic sets in so quickly, that you kind of forget everything you know about dealing with stress. Minutes after the accident I was still shaking uncontrollably. As the EMT told me to  “breathe, just breathe, take a deep breath, you’re going to be okay” I remembered that breathing is the only thing that can help me right now, at this moment. Deep breathing can do wonders post or during any kind of stressful situation. Think of it as your built-in stress reliever.

To calm your nervousness try tactical/combat breathing:

  • breathe in through your nose, expanding your diaphragm (expanding your stomach) counting: 1,2,3,4
  • hold your breath and count: 1,2,3,4
  • exhale counting: 1,2,3,4
  • hold for another 4 seconds and repeat until your breathing returns to normal

Deep breathing increases the oxygen supply to your brain- this stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, also called a “rest and digest system” which promotes the state of calmness. For any stressful situation you find yourself in, remember to pay attention to your breathing and start with trying to return your breathing to a normal state.

GRATITUDE

If there is one thing that will help you see past the hardships, it’s gratitude. If this isn’t something you practice on a regular basis, then it probably won’t feel natural. Truth is, for the majority of people, gratitude is probably the last thing they think of when facing a small (or a major) life detour or find themselves in a stressful situation. It can, however, make all the difference.

Gratitude can also help you put things into perspective. I’m sitting here with a concussion, pain in my neck and back, my car that didn’t have a scratch on it now needs to be fixed, I spent an entire day in the ER, I have to deal with insurance, police reports, drop my car off to have it fixed, I lost three days of work. But I’m sitting here, feeling grateful.

Why?

Because if things turned out differently, I might have been seriously injured or even dead. Things are just things. A car can be fixed, lost productivity can be made up for. No matter what situation or circumstances you find yourself in, even when feeling hopeless, remember that there are many amazing things and people in your life to be grateful for.

Related posts:

50 Ways to Practice Self-Care
15 Ways to Ease Anxiety
How to De-Stress After a Tough Day
A Few Acts of Self-Love That Will Transform Your Life

MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

Make self-care a priority. Give yourself some time. I know that it’s not always easy when you deal with things like ending a relationship, changing jobs, having to move, experience an injury, illness, or when going through any other stressful life event. Sometimes during a small setback all you can think about, is how much work or productivity you will have to make up for.

At times, those difficult moments have nothing to do with you, but everything to do with other people in your life- like caring for a sick parent. That is when looking after yourself is even more important. When caring for others, we sometimes immerse ourselves in their emotions and feelings so deeply, that we forget to deal with ours.

It’s okay to be tired, it’s okay to take a little break, to turn off your phone and take some time out, just for yourself.

LET GO OF THE GUILT + BLAME

This is a big one. Blame is one of those things that we love to throw around. We blame others or, we blame ourselves for making a decision that we think has led us to be in a particular situation. I kept asking myself “why did I take Route 80 when I always take Route 46 to get to work?” The truth is 46 was packed and that quick decision to take a different route is one I’ve made many times before. I also kept saying “I’m so sorry” to my husband, for having to miss work to take care of me. I just felt so guilty about the whole thing- guilty that I had missed calls from the office, guilty that I didn’t even reach for my laptop for three days.

It wasn’t until my phone died when I was in the hospital, that I realized “okay, there’s really nothing I can do right now, other than making sure I’m alright.”

The same thing goes for blaming others- nothing positive comes from blaming others for your problems. It won’t make you feel better and it won’t make a difficult situation any easier. Even when you know that someone else’s actions resulted in your current circumstance- try your best to let go of that blame. My mom always says: “there is a solution for every problem” and that is a great mindset to have when you’re going through a difficult time. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is or how it could have been prevented, there is a solution for every problem.

Yesterday is gone. Your future starts now. Some things can be hard to let go of, but there comes a point when you have to ask yourself: “am I going to let this stop me?

Every “bad” or difficult situation you might find yourself in, every single challenge, carries a lesson. Of course, there are times when you wish you could avoid learning the lesson and not go through a certain challenge or struggle- but that’s just a part of life.

Difficult times come and go, but the valuable lessons they teach you will stay with you forever.


Stress | stressful events | how to deal with stress | how to deal with stressful situations | wellness | self-growth | stress tips  | tips for dealing with stress | difficult life events |
  • Oh my god Paula! I’m so glad you’re okay! I had a stressful moment today – much less so than yours – but it felt like I was having a heart attack. I’m still figuring out how to deal, so this post couldn’t have come at a better time.

    Sharni // A Girl & Grey

  • Sad to hear about the accident – but very glad you’re ok! I can very much relate to the feeling of guilt, as insane as it must sound to other people; every time, for instance, I get worse again with my condition and my boyfriend has to stay around home to look after me, I swear I spend more time trying to apologize for being ill than actually recovering. I guess it takes my mind of it a little bit? But then it makes me feel so bad about myself, and the big spiral of self-pity inevitably starts soon after.
    Wishing you all the best <3

    • Thanks so much Alex! I’m the same way, I’m trying to practice NOT apologizing for things I don’t have any control over. Hope you’re doing well!

  • Natalie Ford

    Aww I’m sorry to hear you had an accident! I’m glad you are OK though. It can take a while to recover from the stress of a road accident, I had a pretty bad one a few years ago and remember feeling shook up for quite a while afterwards. It’s lovely of you to thing of writing a post to help others while you are recovering! Please take care and take your own good advice! ? ❤️xxx

    • Thank you so much Natalie! It’s been a crazy week. Sorry to hear you had a bad accident yourself, hope you’re doing much better now!! <3 <3

      • Natalie Ford

        I bet! It’s such a scary thing to happen!! Thank you. Yes I’m good it was a long time ago now. I just made sure that I got straight back in the car and drove or I could have been put off ❤️xxx

  • I’m so glad you’re ok! I was in an accident 5 years ago and landed in the ER with similar injuries. I distinctly remember being sooo happy and grateful when I got home and in the adjacent days. It’s hard to keep up that mindset but I have to make a conscious effort now. Xo
    Jackie http://www.thatswhatsupblog.com

  • I am sorry you had to experience that, but I agree: Things are just things and the fact that you are okay is the most important thing! Gratitude really helps putting things into perspective, but as you rightly assumed, it is not something I practice regularly, so I guess it would feel alien to me.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    • Thank you so much Anne, grateful mindset helped me out a lot, it definitely does help put things into perspective.

  • I’m glad that you’re ok! It’s really easy to get into such a negative mindset but you’re right, there are a lot of coping mechanisms that you can use and I think it’s fine to be in a negative bubble for a bit.. we’re only human, and can’t be happy/ok 100% of the time. As long as you realize that it’s temporary and that you’ll get out of it

    https://thedianaedition.com

  • I’m happy that you’re okay now! I think we all just need to find our individual ways of coping and it was so helpful of you to share some of yours. x Nikita

    BLOG//Jasmine Loves

  • Devynne Hadley

    I am so happy you are doing better! This post just shows that there can be a positive outlook on everything and to always be grateful. Thank you for this lovely post <33

  • Kiri Yanchenko

    I am so glad you are ok!
    Is your car ok?
    Being in an accident, if it is bad enough, makes you re-evaluate your priorities too.
    I was hit by a car on my scooter about 6 years ago and was hurt pretty badly – I had two years of rehab.
    I was really lucky and even though I didn’t take safety lightly then (no t shirt and shorts for me on a scooter) I take my safety even more seriously now.

    Being floaty and sort of above yourself is something my husband experiences when he has panic attacks.
    We both practice meditation.
    I really like your tips and I am glad you seem to have been able to use some yourself when you were in Emergency. Often that is really hard.
    Kiri
    Set to Glow
    http://www.settoglow.com.au

    • Thanks so much Kiri! It has quite a bit of damage, but it’s going to get fixed. Could have been a lot worse!
      Omg so sorry you had to go through that, 2 years of rehab sounds exhausting. Hope you’re doing much better now! Glad to know that both your husband and yourself practice meditation- it’s such a good exercise for the mind!

  • Glad to hear that you are now okay. Stressful situations can happen anytime and we have to deal with people around us, as well as with ourselves. But giving priority to us, most of the times is the best remedy. Thank you for your wonderful article Paula!

    • Thank you so much Helene! It definitely is very important to remember to look after yourself in those situations.

  • I am so glad you’re ok!! I was in an accident 9 years ago; I was driving with my ex and his best friend, and I slammed on my brake when the traffic light turned red and the guy behind me rear-ended me. No one was hurt, but his windows were shattered and my car had to be repaired for a month and a half. I was still shaken though. I am learning to be thankful for the situations and the blessings bestowed even if things don’t exactly go the way we want (like with my health issues and current job search), and it’s something I struggle with as a Christian: being thankful to God yet also harboring bitterness, unforgiveness, and envy in my heart. Your posts always inspire me to do my best.

    Hannah
    Floraful

    • Thank you so much Hannah! I got rear-ended too- I was actually trying to avoid an accident when the person in front of me violently changed lanes. A car accident is such a frightening experience, sorry you had to go through that too, but I’m glad everyone was okay!

      It’s so hard sometimes to be grateful when things just seem to fall apart, but knowing that things could get worse is something that can help put things into perspective. So happy to know you enjoy these posts, hope you’re doing well Hannah!! Sending my love!

  • Natalie Redman

    Glad to hear you are ok! So scary!

    http://www.upyourvlog.com

  • Aww Paula, I’m so glad you’re okay! That must have been so scary. I think it’s easy to blame ourselves for things out of our control, like when you said “why didn’t I take my normal route?”, but you were clearly not at fault. These things just happen. Sending big hugs your way! xoxo

    Jenn │ Beauty by Jelly Bean

    • Thank you Jenn- it definitely was. It was a hell of a week, all I want is for things to go back to normal now hehe. Hope you’re doing well!

  • Jolie Luu

    I’m so glad you’re okay! When I had my first accident, I managed to keep myself together and did all the procedure but I started to panicked as soon as I got home, when I realized what just happened. Your’re right! The feel was scary and horrible. I agree that breathing helps. Big time! On that note, I need to practicing breathing when I’m stressed out because I’m so bad at it.

    Jolie
    Joliecious.com

    • Thank you so much Jolie! It takes a minute for a panic to set in sometimes, I am very glad that you’re okay too and so sorry you had to experience similar stress! Breathing helps out SO much. x

  • I’m so glad you’re okay! I’ve been in 2 accidents already this year (both cars totally destroyed) so I know how tough these moments are for you! Keep getting your rest. Keep breathing, you’ll be just fine in time. I think you’ve got the right attitude through this season of life too- being thankful for a husband who cares and can stay off work to cater for you. Get well soon, Paula!

    • Thank you Love! Oh wow, I am so sorry you were involved in two accidents, that’s just horrible. Hope that you’re doing okay and that all is well!!

  • I’m so glad that you are doing okay! I know how hard it can be when something bad happens to you that you have no control over. These are some fantastic tips to get through situations like this!

    Brittany | thechicette.com

  • The Sunday Mode

    Sometimes when I read your posts I feel like I’m reading Louise Hay book and I kinda love it, I always come away from reading them feeling super grateful and positive. So sorry to hear you were in a car accident (hopefully everything is all ok now) but I completely get that out of body experience you go through when you’re panicking.

    I love how you said to ask yourself “Am I going to let this stop me?.” I feel like that so simple yet so damn powerful! Something I like to say to myself when I’m feeling anxious, panicked or overwhelmed is “Feel the fear and do it anyway” :)

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    • Omg, are you kidding? That is such a compliment, I love Louise Hay. Thank you so much for your kind words Julia!

      I love the “feel the fear and do it anyway” it kind of says it all, doesn’t it? It’s a perfect thing to say to yourself. :)

  • Lou

    What an insightful post! Thank you for wearing your heart out in public and letting us read such intimate thoughts!

    Regarding fear- I say if you’re not feeling fear, then you’re not living.

    Monica | stayfitcentral.com

  • Helen Wakefield

    “Your future starts now.” Love that. I always enjoy reading your blogs Paula, thank you for inspiring me to be a better blog writer :)

    Helen | The Little Giraffe
    http://www.thelittlegiraffe.org