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Facing Life’s Challenges

Published by: LifeWorks,

A financial emergency. A health crisis. A divorce. A workplace change. Life is full of tough challenges—many of them unexpected—and many of them can be difficult to overcome without inner-strength, effective coping skills and support.

Here are some important things to keep in mind as you navigate life’s challenges:

Take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and learn effective stress management techniques like mindfulness or meditation to build a stronger, fitter you. The more you do for yourself, the more inner-resources you’ll have to draw upon.

Practice being resilient. Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity and bounce back from challenges. Practice being resilient by choosing a positive attitude, deciding not to be helpless, and trusting your judgment and abilities. 

Recognize that you can choose how you act. You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you respond. You might say to yourself, “I’ve had an unexpected setback. Now, what do I need to do?” You can reach out to others for support, but at the end of the day, you are the one who must manage the challenge you’re facing.

According to the late Dr. Stephen Williams, an organizational psychologist from the U.K., the first step in coping with a personal or work challenge is to put on your “reality glasses” to examine what’s going on in your world. Stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I seeing this as it really is?
  • How big is this problem?
  • Have I blown this out of proportion?

Once you’ve assessed the situation, you may discover that the problem isn’t as serious as you had thought. Or you may discover that it is serious indeed. These assessments will help you gauge an appropriate reaction.

Once you have some perspective, take these next steps:

Calm yourself. During stressful times, we sometimes push the panic button and “catastrophize”, or imagine the worst. Instead, calm yourself with “traffic light coping”. This exercise, developed by Dr. Williams, works like this: When you start to feel worried, panicked, or angry—when you start to “see red”— stop and relax. Pause. Take time to breathe deeply to help calm your body and mind, then move forward.

Start with a single step. The sooner you take action, the better you’ll feel. If a challenge feels overwhelming, think about the simplest thing you could do to take you in the direction you want to go. Then do it.

Let go of your anger. Feelings of anger or injustice won’t help you move forward. Work through negative feelings by writing them down or talking them out with a trusted friend.

Instead of focusing on loss, consider what you may gain. For example, if your job is evolving, this may be an opportunity to reassess your role and find new direction.

Draw strength from others. In difficult times, we need people who will be there for us. Seek support—from your partner, friends, children, or anyone who provides comfort.

 More tips like these are available to LifeWorks users. Go to the LifeWorks app or connect at with your username and password. Search for “stress management” or “self-care” for articles, podcasts, toolkits, and other resources.

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