Going Through Hard Times? Try These 10 Strategies (2022)

Hard times, whatever that means to you, are a common part of life. Developing coping skills can better help you get through them.

Maybe you’re experiencing a financial setback. Or someone you love might be facing a health challenge. Maybe you’ve lost your job, or an unhealthy relationship is weighing you down.

You might not be in complete control of these difficulties, but you have a choice in how they impact the way you feel.

Overcoming these challenges is possible. Mental health experts have offered 10 tips to cope with hard times:

If you’re facing a challenging time, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed.

“When faced with emotional pain or frustration, this can feel like you are going to be in it forever,” says Boston-based psychotherapist Angela Ficken. “That thought alone can increase the severity of emotions someone is feeling and make it worse.”

Reframing your perspective — seeing things from a new angle — can help you step away from this mindset.

“Whatever you’d say to your best friend, now say the same to yourself,” Ficken suggests. “An example of a reframe would be, ‘I know it feels like this will be forever, and I know logically it’s not. I have been through hard things before and came out OK. I know I will get through this, too.’”

“Emotions don’t go away if we ignore them. They come out later and in ways that we don’t quite understand,” explains Rachelle Heinemann, a mental health counselor in Brooklyn, New York. “The best thing to do when the going gets tough is to acknowledge your emotional experience and allow yourself to feel.”

Holding feelings in may make the situation more difficult to cope with in the long run, explains Donna Novak, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in Simi Valley, California.

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“Let yourself feel all the emotions. Sadness, frustration, grief,” she suggests. “Allow yourself space to cry, hurt, and be upset.”

Feeling and expressing your emotions is an essential part of healing, says Jennifer Weaver-Breitenbecher, a clinical psychologist in Rhode Island.

“This isn’t a time to try and be strong; that’s a fallacy. Feeling the feelings is tough but imperative,” she says. “Allow yourself to grieve or process whatever is happening.”

Most difficult situations have a possible upside or a pending end date. For example, the last day of a tough school year.

Sam Bolin, a licensed clinical social worker in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, tells Psych Central that focusing on the future positives “is an effective strategy for individuals who are going through a hard time.”

Bolen recommends positive projection. This refers to focusing on the possible positive outcomes of a situation.

He suggests using guided meditation or general meditation for at least 5 minutes every day. While meditating, he says, try to focus on one or more desired outcomes for the situation.

A positive projection requires turning positive intention into words. For example:

  • The survival rate for my illness is 85%, and if I follow my treatment plan, I can be in that group.
  • There aren’t many job openings, but I have a great resume and a strong track record.
  • The publisher rejected my manuscript, but this is a typical part of the process, and it means I’m trying.

“As you become better at staying focused in your meditation […] the detail of your process will become more specific to accomplishments that contribute to improving your life,” Bolen says.

While it might feel like the best response to a difficult situation is to take charge, sometimes letting go can help preserve your mental health.

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“One way to help yourself get through hard times is to let yourself off the hook for things,” says Billy Roberts, a mental health therapist in Columbus, Ohio. “Ironically, many people are even harsher critics of themselves when times are harder or when they are under a lot of stress.”

Gina Marie Guarino, a mental health counselor in New York City, recommends practicing acceptance.

“Hard times come with challenges that are out of your control, and the harder you try to control the outcome of a difficult time, the more stress you are inflicting onto yourself,” she says.

While knowing when to let go is helpful, so is working on gaining “a sense of meaning and purpose,” Roberts tells Psych Central. “A sense of meaning and forward momentum helps keep us energized and hopeful.”

The trick is to identify the positive amid a crisis that’s out of your hands.

A job loss might mean you’ve got more time to help your children with their homework. Or maybe you’re motivated to make healthy lifestyle changes in response to a new medical diagnosis.

Even if meaning and purpose aren’t immediately obvious, you can consider making a point to look for them in everyday moments.

Rituals can anchor you in a time of change and uncertainty.

Healthy rituals could include:

  • adding a regular mindfulness practice
  • committing to daily morning workouts
  • practicing different relaxation techniques
  • scheduling coffee with a friend once a week
  • journaling every night
  • getting 15 minutes of sunlight or fresh air every day

In a romantic relationship, rituals can also provide some comfort during trying times.

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“Couples need to proactively protect their relationship with healthy rituals like date nights without the kids, time not talking about work, and things that help them stay connected and balanced,” explains William Schroeder, co-founder of Just Mind Counseling in Austin, Texas. “It is beneficial to notice what helps you get back on track.”

Your support system is all those people who care about you and can be there for you to offer practical help, a word of advice, or encouragement.

“It is vital to focus on one’s relationships as these people can be very helpful,” says Bryan Bruno, a psychiatrist in New York City. “It can feel isolating to be going through a hard time, but surrounding yourself with a trusted support system is very necessary.”

Feeling connected can boost your mood and help you cope with challenging situations.

“The most important factor that will determine how we get through hard times will be whether or not we feel connected and supported,” says Heinemann. “Go ahead, call or text that friend. Sit with them saying nothing or saying everything.”

If you rather find support from other sources, consider joining a support o community group.

“There are support groups available for individuals experiencing hardships,” offers Novak. “By joining a community, you will not be alone, and you will not feel alone. You will be around people who understand and support you.”

When times are tough, finding a healthy outlet to express yourself can make coping easier.

“Find a healthy way to express yourself and your emotions. This could be through journaling, having a close friend or family member to talk to, or practicing self-care,” suggests Novak.

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Heinemann agrees that journaling is an effective stress-management tool. “Journaling is a great way to get thoughts out of your head and brings a sense of internal organization. You can follow prompts or write free form.”

Identifying what has helped you cope in the past can support you in your current situation.

“Do what you know works,” recommends Weaver-Breitenbecher. “Like meeting friends for dinner? Do that now. Feel good when you volunteer at the local animal shelter? Go read to some dogs. Need to focus on your physical health in order to regroup? Get to the gym.”

Denver-based counselor Amanda Conroy suggests being intentional in gratitude.

“Write down all you are thankful for and what is going well in your life,” says Conroy. This exercise will give you hope and uplift your spirit. […] Engage in activities that are fun and joyous. Be mindful and sit with the positive feelings when engaging in these activities.”

Schroeder recommends taking challenging situations one step at a time. “Breaking down significant events into smaller, more manageable parts is an essential and adaptive part of survival. We have to find those coping techniques that are natural and healthy for us to survive.”

A mental health professional can help you sort out your feelings and develop coping strategies. They can also become a safe space where you feel supported while working on an actionable plan to get through hard times.

Looking ahead

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Going through hard times is part of the human experience. Even if they feel challenging, they won’t be permanent most of the time. If they are, there are ways to cope with them effectively.

If you’re experiencing a tough time, consider changing your perspective to focus on what aspects of the situation you can control to feel better.

Reaching out to the community or loved ones for support, adding healthy rituals to your ritual, letting yourself feel all the emotions, and seeking professional help can all be important steps when navigating these difficult times.

FAQs

How do you respond to someone going through a tough time? ›

How To Talk To Someone Going Through A Hard Time
  1. Keep your focus on them. ...
  2. Resist the urge to say, “I understand,” or to share your version of a similar-seeming experience. ...
  3. When in doubt, ask. ...
  4. Go easy on the fact-finding questions. ...
  5. Know that there's no shame in a genuine “I'm so sorry.”
27 May 2020

What keeps you going in difficult times? ›

You need to care for yourself to survive tough times. Take a walk through the park, lift some weights, read an amazing book. It doesn't matter what you do, just do something that gets your mind and body engaged at a higher level than wallowing in self pity.

What does it mean to go through hard times? ›

What does hard times mean? If you've fallen on hard times, you're experiencing a period of great difficulty, especially financially. It can also refer to challenging circumstances more generally, like with personal or health struggles.

How do you stay mentally stronger in hard times? ›

How To Be Mentally Strong In Hard Times - YouTube

What do you say to someone going through a hard time quotes? ›

Comforting Words for Hard Times
  • "Dawn Will Come." Really. ...
  • "Worrying Won't Do Us Any Good." ...
  • "Let's Consider the Positive Things." ...
  • "Recognize the Challenge and Do Something About It." ...
  • "Things Won't Always Be This Bad." ...
  • "Don't Give Up." ...
  • "Hope Can Never Be Taken Away." ...
  • "Do Something to Help Others."

What do you not say to someone going through a hard time? ›

I found that phrases like these are best avoided when trying to help someone through a hard time: “I can't imagine what you're going through.” This makes the person feel isolated and unseen. Let them explain what they're going through, instead of taking away that chance by saying you couldn't possibly understand.

How do you motivate yourself in difficult times? ›

How to Motivate Yourself During Tough Times
  1. Remember your mission. ...
  2. Visualise a successful outcome. ...
  3. Take a break and treat yourself. ...
  4. Break down big and scary challenges. ...
  5. Celebrate each small victory. ...
  6. Share your challenges and ask for support. ...
  7. Get inspired with your favourite movies, books, and songs.
18 Mar 2021

How do you stay motivated in life? ›

Ways to stay motivated
  1. Regularly review your goals and progress. ...
  2. Continue to set new goals. ...
  3. Keep the momentum up. ...
  4. Find mentors – a mentor is someone who is experienced in the habit you want to change. ...
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. ...
  6. Use exercise as one of your daily goals to improve your mental health.

How do you motivate someone in difficult times? ›

How to motivate and inspire your people in difficult times
  1. Limit the amount of time or effort that you're asking for. ...
  2. Share in the sacrifice. ...
  3. Appeal to their emotions. ...
  4. Give people multiple reasons for doing what you want them to do. ...
  5. Be the change you want to inspire. ...
  6. Tell a story. ...
  7. Appeal to people's value system.

What is another word for hard times? ›

What is another word for hard times?
rough seasstormy seas
hard goinghardship
adversitydifficulty
misfortunesuffering
agonyaffliction
12 more rows

How do you handle a difficult situation in your life paragraph? ›

Here are 10 steps you can take to get through your tough time.
  1. Acknowledge your feelings and feel the pain. ...
  2. Talk about it. ...
  3. Try to see past the crisis in your life. ...
  4. Take care of yourself. ...
  5. Consider the severity of your issue. ...
  6. Accept what you cannot change. ...
  7. Get help. ...
  8. Seek out those people who will support you.

Do hard times make you stronger? ›

Psychologists say traumatic events can make you stronger physically and mentally. Research shows people who lived through post-traumatic growth report positive changes in their relationships with others, a better appreciation of life, and new possibilities in life. There's a benefit to overcoming adversity.

How do you keep your team motivated during challenging times? ›

Motivating Employees In Difficult Times
  1. Give Them Vision. ...
  2. Don't Hide The Target. ...
  3. Provide Regular Feedback. ...
  4. Make Employees Part Of The Solution. ...
  5. Focus On People Development. ...
  6. Communicate! ...
  7. Don't Overlook The Power Of Praise. ...
  8. Build Fun.

How do you sail through difficult times? ›

Aanchal Bhatnagar, Counselling Psychologist at ePsyClinic tells us 11 things to do during difficult times, to help us sail through them with minimal damage.
  1. Let it sink in. ...
  2. Accept that you're only human! ...
  3. Put your phone away. ...
  4. Sleep on it. ...
  5. Don't ignore your body. ...
  6. Take a vacation. ...
  7. Focus on the small tasks.
6 May 2016

How can you positively influence your team? ›

How to have a positive influence at your workplace
  • Find a job you love. Being happy in your role is one of the best ways to influence others at work. ...
  • Learn more about your coworkers. ...
  • Determine your goals and work towards them. ...
  • Ask for feedback. ...
  • Help others. ...
  • Show your appreciation. ...
  • Be an optimist. ...
  • Show that you're reliable.

How do you stay emotionally strong? ›

Here are 10 essential habits and practices of the emotionally strong that all people should do more of:
  1. Have Confidence. ...
  2. Surround themselves with positive influences. ...
  3. Forgive others. ...
  4. Do their own thing. ...
  5. Believe in themselves. ...
  6. Show genuine kindness. ...
  7. Willingly love. ...
  8. See each day as a blessing.

How can I train my mind to be stronger than emotions? ›

5 Ways to Make Yourself Mentally Stronger This Year
  1. Practice labeling your emotions.
  2. Establish healthy ways to deal with uncomfortable emotions.
  3. Identify and replace unhealthy thought patterns.
  4. Take positive action.
  5. Give up the bad habits that rob you of mental muscle.
  6. Become Your Strongest Self.
9 Jan 2018

How do you build emotional strength? ›

10 Healthy Ways To Build Your Emotional Strength
  1. Set Boundaries. ...
  2. Don't Fear The Past. ...
  3. Reach Out. ...
  4. Practice Mindfulness. ...
  5. Allow Yourself To Be Vulnerable. ...
  6. Learn To Enjoy Your Own Company. ...
  7. Pay Attention To How You Speak To Yourself. ...
  8. Take Care Of Your Body.
11 Jul 2016

How do you handle a difficult situation in your life paragraph? ›

Here are 10 steps you can take to get through your tough time.
  1. Acknowledge your feelings and feel the pain. ...
  2. Talk about it. ...
  3. Try to see past the crisis in your life. ...
  4. Take care of yourself. ...
  5. Consider the severity of your issue. ...
  6. Accept what you cannot change. ...
  7. Get help. ...
  8. Seek out those people who will support you.

Does everyone go through hard times? ›

Going through hard times is part of the human experience. Even if they feel challenging, they won't be permanent most of the time. If they are, there are ways to cope with them effectively.

Do hard times make you stronger? ›

Psychologists say traumatic events can make you stronger physically and mentally. Research shows people who lived through post-traumatic growth report positive changes in their relationships with others, a better appreciation of life, and new possibilities in life. There's a benefit to overcoming adversity.

What is another word for hard times? ›

What is another word for hard times?
rough seasstormy seas
hard goinghardship
adversitydifficulty
misfortunesuffering
agonyaffliction
12 more rows

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