5 Ways to Find Peace in Hard Seasons

It’s not easy to step back and find peace when you’re in the thick of what’s driving you crazy or upsetting you, and that’s okay. But, when the thing that’s upsetting you lasts for days, it’s time to start turning your attention elsewhere to find peace.

Nobody, and I mean not a single person, can last very long when they’re upset. The longer you stay upset the harder it is to get out of it, and the harder it is to get out of it the more brash and volatile you’ll get. What started off as an upsetting event, has now turned into a chaotic nightmare of a week, month, year, however long it might have been. This is not a sustainable mindset.

Every single chaotic nightmare I’ve found myself in was of my own creation. Rather than finding a way to sustain my sanity and turn my attention to life giving things, I always chose to stare right at what was upsetting me and watch it fester into an entirely new beast.

Luckily, after some of the hardest seasons of my life, I found a couple ways in which I could break my gaze and turn my attention to better things. Through therapy and just walking through those seasons thinking, “I’d give anything not to feel this way right now,” I finally got sick of of feeling that way and set my sights on successful coping.

I’d like to share with you some of those coping mechanisms, and hopefully encourage you to look beyond your hard season too.

  1. Get Moving

This one is possibly the most universal tip because it works for any emotion. Exercise is the best way to renew the energy inside of you, or just expel it entirely.

I found that exercise is almost a cure all for any mental state I’m in. When I’m losing my mind in rage and anger, picking up a weight and busting out a couple hundred reps of squats, sit-ups and just about any other move allows me to release those emotions. When I’m upset, getting moving with some yoga or cardio turns my mood around. And when anxiety kicks in, turning on a fast paced workout video and following along takes my mind off of what had originally been occupying it.

It can be hard to get up initially and start moving, but in the middle and once it’s over you’ll feel so much better. Ask yourself, are you more willing to continue feeling the way you do than you are willing to try something new?

2. Get Out

I mean it, just go outside. Step your feet onto the pavement, the grass, the whatever surface is just outside your house. Fresh air is a game changer.

I feel like this tip might sound as mundane as the “drink water” tip you always see on those self care instagram pages, but honestly it has to be said. In my lowest moments, like when depression kicks in, the kind that makes you want to give up on showering for a few days and not get out of bed, willing myself to get outside is just beyond me. But I step just one foot outside, and all of a sudden I got the other one coming right along with it.

Getting that breathe of clean, fresh air in my lungs convicts my body to keep going. I mentally may not want to move or try anything to get out of my funk, but my lungs want the air, so outside we go. And if this seems like too much for you, just open the closest window and take a deep breath. A step can be small and still help, as long as it’s a step in the right direction.

3. Be Present

This can either be an addition to all of the other mechanisms listed here, or a step all on it’s own. I find that when anxiety sets in, usually because I’m already angry, upset, or depressed, grounding myself in the here and now is just about all I can do mentally to put my head back on my shoulders and move on.

In therapy when I was younger, I was taught to reign in my anxiety by using this fairly easy grounding technique, and I swear by it.

  • Start by closing your eyes and placing both feet on the floor. (this usually works best if you’re sitting)
  • Take three deep breaths
  • Notice how your feet feel on the floor. Ask yourself: Where am I applying pressure on the soles of my feet? How does the material of the floor or my shoes/socks feel against my skin? And don’t judge yourself for any of your answers.
  • Move on to other parts of your body: How does your butt feel in the chair? Is your posture slouched? Is the chair soft or rough? How does the room smell? Can you hear anything from where you’re sitting?
  • Continue breathing through this until you feel calm enough to go back to the task at hand.

This technique has been a God send for me. When your heart or your mind races with things you’d rather not be focused on, focusing intently on the physical world around you can help you return to what is actually happening right in front of you. More or less, if your mental space is in the clouds, focusing on your physical space can pull you back to earth.

4. Be Quiet

If you need to scream or talk something out, that’s okay. Take your time and do those things (without hurting anyone if you can). But if you find yourself in a chaotic nightmare of your own creation and there’s not really anyone around to listen at the moment, start listening yourself.

Go sit outside, in your bedroom, in the kitchen, or at the park. Sit and listen to everything going on around you.

More or less, I’m suggesting that you meditate, but in a not super meditative kind of way. All I’m suggesting is that you allow the sounds you’re hearing to become the thoughts you’re having. Rather than letting your inner dialogue run rampant, let the sound of the fan in your room absorb your focus. Let the hum of the refrigerator working, the whoosh of the air conditioner blowing, or the chirp of a bird singing be your focus. Get lost in it.

This is similar to the grounding technique, but with a heavier focus on auditory stimulation.

5. Give Back

This is my favorite one. It’s a bit more challenging, and is more so a follow up to the aforementioned coping mechanisms.

Once you’ve gotten yourself up, gotten moving, and gotten outside, you can move on to putting some energy into making the world a better place. This tip makes me think of that one episode of Friends where Joey tells Phoebe that there’s no such thing as a selfless good deed. To a degree I think he’s right, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If people didn’t get a good feeling from helping others and helping the planet, then it’d be a lot harder to find someone willing to help with anything at all.

If you have taken your first simple steps to find peace, then your next step is to find joy, and the best way to find joy is by bringing joy to others and healing to the planet. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen or donation center, you can go through your closet and donate gently used clothes (particularly clothes that no longer make you happy), or use the pain you’ve been through to help others out of their own pain by relating to them on your shared experiences. You can also start a garden and enjoy watching the bees come buzzing around for nourishment, cook yourself and your friends a healthy meal, or take a walk and pick up litter along the way.

All of these activities are sure you boost your mood by boosting the moods of others. Shared joy is the best joy.


All of these coping mechanisms require action, and sometimes even the beginning actions can feel impossible. Beyond these tips, it is also always a good idea to contact professional help. I myself have been in therapy for years, and I couldn’t possibly recommend it more. If you find yourself in a rut or in a place where you just need more help than you could get from the above ideas, contacting a therapist is a great next step. A couple resources you can use to find a therapist are Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists) or BetterHelp (https://www.betterhelp.com).

Regardless of what you’re going through, you’ve got this. It might not feel like it, but you do, and I hope some of these tips have helped you. I was taught a while ago, “it’s okay not to be okay, but it’s not okay to stay that way.”

Let me know: Have you tried any of these coping mechanisms in your own life? What helps you the most when you’re feeling low?

Finding Somewhere to Start

Where to start? Where on Earth to start??

And, no, I didn’t just start this post with that because I didn’t know how to start it. I started this post that way because when starting literally anything else these are the exact questions I’ve asked. (Although, I’ll be honest, I do ask these questions when coming up with posts sometimes too.)

So often we find ourselves in places where our only options are to try things that are brand new. We may be used to living life a certain way, but at the drop of a hat every bit of plan we had is turned upside down and we run blind for a while.

You may face a sudden career shift or alteration to the life plan of your dreams, or maybe your day started with sunshine and BAM! you’re standing in a downpour with no umbrella. No matter how big or small your shift may be, there comes a time when your only option to move forward is to try something new. A new job in a new field. A new house or a new family member. A new shelter until you can find a good umbrella…

And you might be asking yourself, what does any of this have to do with sustainability? Everything. EVERYTHING. Seldom is anyone, especially in the U.S., born into a sustainable life. We spend our entire young lives producing waste from tiny snack packs and toy’s we outgrow in under a year (unless you have an eco-conscious parent). And finally making that shift when we can for ourselves to being more eco-friendly can be tough. It can seem inconvenient, and we begin to wonder “I’m just me, what impact could little ol’ me possibly have?”

Time and time again, two things have stuck in the back of my mind when moments like these arise.

“The only thing you can control is yourself.”

and

“Take it one day at a time.”

These two principles are the key to just about every door. Even though they feel disgusting at first, they’ll get you through just about any everyday scenario.

“The only thing you can control is yourself” has honestly got to be one of the hardest things I continue to have to relearn daily. As human beings we are most comfortable when we feel we have control over the situations we’re in, but we just about never actually do. No matter what path you may be running down, thinking you’ve got everything figured out, that path may become impassable in an instant. No matter whether you thought your had everything figured out or not.

To some degree you might say if you have control over yourself and only yourself then you should be able to control your circumstances, but the truth is you only have control of how you react to them.

You can take being fired from your job as a crushing blow and quit trying, or you can learn from that experience and find something new. In the same way, you can learn more about the global climate crisis and sit back saying there’s nothing you could do, or you can begin taking steps to live more sustainably.

This principle can sound discouraging in so many ways. The biggest reason I was upset with it at first was that I thought,”what’s the point of running down any path then if it’s inevitable that the situation will change and I’ll have to react whether I want to or not?” And that’s reasonable at first. But, there’s no real way to live a full life when you allow this mindset to rest within you.

A good way to avoid feelings of discouragement is to set personal goals for yourself that you can accomplish through every day actions. These are goals that don’t have to change just because something in your life that you couldn’t control changed.

For myself these goals included a lot of personality and mindset adjustments. First, I wanted to meet a daily goal of showing kindness to everyone I met. I never have to worry about the world changing this goal for me, I know that if I show up with the intention of being kind to others I am much more likely to accomplish it over time. Another is that I wanted to be friendlier to the planet and therefor friendlier to others (luckily this goal helps me accomplish the first one I mentioned for day’s where I have limited contact with others.) The world may change around me, but I can make daily decisions to be a conscious consumer and waste producer along with so many other practices.

“Take it one day at a time” is, likewise, something I really wasn’t ready to accept when I first heard it. Like so many other college students (and people of all ages really), I had been encouraged to plan my entire life out. We frequently get asked, “where do you see yourself in 20 years?” and expecting the answer to that question to actually come to fruition is often foolish.

If we can’t control anything outside of ourselves, then how can we expect that each day will go exactly as we want it to for us to move forward. Taking things one day at a time can not only help with the existentialism that naturally comes from these kinds of questions, but can also provide a way forward that will ultimately bring you greater peace.

Yes, you can still plan for a vacation that’s months away, or set a date for an event in advance that you’re looking forward to. But the biggest thing you shouldn’t do is set expectations.

To take things one day at a time and still be reasonable it can be necessary to make plans in advance, but that doesn’t mean you have to let that consume your daily mentality. When you focus simply on the day, or even the next hour, ahead of you, you’ll find you’re living much more successfully in the moment. You aren’t clouded by the plans of the future that may seem daunting or cause you anxiety. You can focus on what’s in front of you which ultimately will allow you to be more successful in accomplishing it. You’ll be able to set a better foundation for that future without actually having to stress yourself out about what exactly that future will look like.

Thankfully, I came to terms with taking things one day at a time before quarantine, and before my graduation was postponed, and before hiring rates plummeted. I was able to adjust and accept life on life’s terms much faster than I expected and find some of the joy ahead of me even in this odd and unexpected season.

And EXTRA thankfully, it’s never to late for you to learn either.

I found that the best ways to adjust to a “just for today” attitude were simply to really focus on my mental inventories. Every morning I start the day by journaling in a gratitude journal. In doing this I can both let go of worries for future issues and set intentions to be grateful for what I have right now. Once I’ve established things to be grateful for, I find myself noticing them much more often in my day, and, from there, since I’m so focused on what is bringing me joy in the moment I don’t have as much time to worry about what comes next.

That being said, these things are much easier said than done. It took me quite a good amount of time to learn these lessons, but once I learned them they stuck like glue to my mind. I will never forget all that I’ve learned by allowing these two principles to guide my mindset, and I hope in time you won’t either.

Wherever you may find a road block, inconvenience, or life altering shift, remember “the only thing you can control is yourself” and to “take it one day at a time.” In the long run you’ll be able to find more joy in productive practices that may seem small or commonplace, but can have a huge and healthy impact in the long run. Simply, they’ll help make restarting feel more like a fresh start.

Let me know: Have you used these two principles in your own life? When do you find it most challenging to accept these truths?