Advice for Hard Times

Edited to add: 11/13/2016. The election has hit me hard. I’m resharing because.

The other night on Facebook, I saw several posts asking people to repost a status in order to show support for those going through hard times. The posters weren’t usually the type to reshare those sorts of things. I assumed that they were feeling the weight of the world that night and it showed in their posts. Since I don’t think reposting a status actually accomplishes any sort of meaningful support, I decided to take matters into my own hands and share my personal strategies for getting through tough times.

I developed these strategies when my son had an emergency appendectomy about a dozen years ago. They have since gotten me through an assortment of difficult times, including sending my sons to war, so this is not just a listicle developed by a Buzzfeed intern. This is my go-to advice and when I say to someone who is having a hard time stay close to the things that keep you strong , I mean stay close to these things.

Well. This post has been, by far, the most liked and shared thing I’ve written on Facebook. It’s gone somewhat viral, I guess. Several have said how meaningful and timely this post was. I’m a little bit surprised in that I have done these things for so long that I just assumed everyone knew to do them.

Full disclosure, I’ve edited it a bit, cleaning up some wording, added a little more explanation and content. When I wrote, it was a fast and furious mind dump, rather like my posts here.


I’m seeing a lot of posts asking for support and consideration.

If that’s you, big hugs. This is my all purpose advice for treating a broken spirit.

1. Get offline. There is nothing online that will make you feel better, particularly hearing about the current President elect. You have permission to step away if you need to. But wait til you finish reading the rest of the list.

2. Get outside. Frequently. Repeatedly. Bundle up if need be. Breath deeply as long as it isn’t, you know, directly into a cloud of bus exhaust or something.

3. Stretch. You hold tension in your body. Stretching won’t get rid of the problem but it will release it for a little while.

4. Eat healthy. I know you want the chocolate and the ice cream and third/fourth/fifth glass of wine or beer and the mile high bacon cheeseburger. Don’t. Just don’t. It won’t make you feel better. Treats are for celebrations and rewards, situations where we feel good. Having a treat without the celebration or reward is like getting a self-esteem participation trophy; there’s no reason you deserve it.

That’s not to say you have to have celery sticks and Melba toast. Everyone needs feel better food. Feel better food should have some fat (fat makes us feel sated), protein, complex carbs. My feel better food is roasted broccoli (w/ olive oil), chicken and beans, or colcannon.

5. Exercise. This is sort of combination of get outside and stretch but with specifics. It doesn’t have to be Olympic quality training. A walk will do. Don’t forget to breathe.

6. Drink lots of water. Being dehydrated makes you tired.

7. Rest. Self explanatory but do it. Everything is harder when you are tired. Lie down in  a dark room with a heavy, cool compress on your eyes. Breathe deeply and regularly, concentrating on your breathing. Even if you don’t sleep, you’ll feel better.

8. Stay close to the good people. And if someone makes you feel bad, take a break for as long as you can, far away as you can, even if that’s just 5 minutes in the next room.

9. Pray. Even if you don’t. You can call it meditation if you want. Cribbing from Anne Lamott, start with Help, move on to Thanks, and end with Wow.