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.
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.
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.
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.
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.