Your Guide for Getting Through Tough TimesBy Jessica Cassity
All of us experience heartache and loss. Relationships end. Lives are taken too soon. Dreams crumble. No one is immune to these personal setbacks, and while there is no timeline for grief or heartache, there are things you can do to move forward.
The strategies to keep you moving through hard times—rather than getting stuck in negative thoughts or feelings of depression—are often the same acts that bring about happiness. It's at the times when happiness seems like a distant memory that the tools used to improve mood can be the most beneficial.
In fact, research shows that the more you use these techniques before a crisis, increasing your overall positivity during relatively good times, the better you'll fare when life gets hard, since positivity creates a buffer against depression. This is your guide to bouncing back.
Set Your Sights on the Future
While living in the present is often described as one of the keys to happiness, when the present is full of doubt, hurt, confusion, and sadness, it's okay to imagine a time when things will be different. Part of that involves creating a picture of what your day-to-day life will be like—for instance, imagining yourself cooking dinner for a group of friends.
The other component involves new hopes and dreams for your future, such as making time to finish that degree program you started or planning a family reunion. Setting goals like these allows people to be more positive during times of grief. It also predicted better recovery 12 months after a loss, according to a study from the University of Chicago. By focusing on ways to be happy in the future, you'll automatically have more to live for in the present.
Channel Positive Memories
In the immediate aftermath of a loss, blocking out thoughts associated with the painful event—such as memories of the person you lost—can be an appropriate coping mechanism. But as you move through your grief, research suggests there may be more merit to creating a positive connection and catalog of memories. A study performed at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology tracked the role of maintaining a bond with the departed among widows who had lost husbands either four months prior or more than two years prior. In the group who had suffered the loss more recently, regularly thinking about their husbands, remembering the good times, or having an internal dialogue with their former partner made them feel worse. But among those who