Everyone has times during their lives that are challenging. Illness, the loss of a job, death, divorce, a relationship break-up, parental alienation, and other life-changing events serve to push us over the edge if we aren’t careful.

While we may not have control over some of our circumstances, we do have control over one thing: ourselves. We have control over our reactions. We are 100% responsible for our thoughts, words, beliefs, and actions. Grief, frustration, anger, sadness–these are all normal emotions (I recently read somewhere that emotions = energy + motion. Love that!). But these emotions can take over your life if you are not conscious of their effects.

I am writing this article after a particularly challenging day. I plan on taking my own advice and move forward in life, but first I like to acknowledge that what I am going through is emotionally painful. Denying the pain or repressing my feelings is ineffective. Like my husband’s book, "Be the Hero of Your Life," I believe that we can all lead better lives if we view ourselves as a hero/heroine and not a victim. When you consciously choose the path with power and personal responsibility; it won’t be an easy road sometimes, but it is a healthier one.

My answer for the times when life seems oh-so-very challenging is different depending upon the circumstances. It is helpful to have solutions available that can help you to regain your peace of mind. Here are 16 suggestions to get you back on the path of living a great life. Please leave a comment if you have some suggestions of your own that have helped you through some trying times.

16 ways to get through painful times:

1. Meditate. Go within to find the stillness you need to remain centered and grounded. Interestingly enough, meditation has been viewed as addictive–similar to an addiction to drugs or alcohol. It can provide a person with a feeling of numbness and euphoria.
2. Find support. During challenging times, find family members, friends, a therapist or coach to get you through. It’s kind of like your own cheer leading section.
3. Laugh. Find something to laugh about–a movie, a cartoon, a funny book–laughter really is the best medicine.
4. Let your emotions out instead of holding them in. Cry, use your pillow to hit your bed or chair, yell into your pillow–express your emotions instead of repressing them.
5. Find the positive. Every cloud has a silver lining–what will be this challenge’s?
6. Do something different. Let your mind focus on something else; something new.
7. Self-care. Nurture yourself during this time.
8. Write. Write about your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Take 20 minutes and just write about what ever comes to your mind. Don’t censor, just write and get it out.
9. Exercise and eat right. Take care of your body.
10. Play. Life isn’t meant to be so serious. Even though you are going through a tough time, don’t forget to have fun. Give yourself permission.
11. Read something uplifting, motivational, and positive everyday.
12. Surround yourself with positive people, not people who bring you down.
13. Breathe. Practice deep breathing which helps to center you as you bring your awareness to your breath.
14. Trust. Have faith that something even better is waiting for you.
15. Have patience with the process. This too shall pass. You will be in a different place a year from now.
16. Be in nature. When my brother passed away suddenly, my lovely neighbor gave me a flat of flowers to plant. I’ll never forget that touching gesture and how wonderfully soothing it felt to be one with nature.

Author's Bio: 

Nicole Nenninger, Psy.M., is the author of "Transforming Divorce--How to Get Back on Track and Create a Life You Love." She and her husband, Don Nenninger, have a private practice in New York where they coach and counsel clients from all over the world. The two recently co-authored their book, "Open to Love--The Secrets of Loving Relationships."