We all go through rough times. No one is exempt from experiencing some kind of personal or professional loss or upset at some point in their lives. Most of us experience the highs and lows of life and at times, feel that we can barely cope with what life give us.

There are also times when people as a whole struggle–friends, family members, our community, the nation and even worldwide.

So how do we cope when we are not coping?

How do we survive the rough times?

How do we come out the other side? The answer to this may be simple, yet complex.

The first thing to realize is that not everyone knows that you may be struggling.

Communication is the key to not only getting support, but in offering it to others. Sometimes we do not even know what our own personal needs are, yet we somehow expect others to meet them. If we can’t work through issues of sadness, frustrations, anger, or sorrow ourselves, we need to to let others know in a direct and honest way that we are struggling.

How do we help others cope when we are also struggling? That may not be an easy thing to do, but important as we maintain and support our circle of friends and family. Often when we are struggling, our friends and family members may also have struggles of their own. Just when we feel that we can’t even cope with what is on our own plate, someone may ask for help. We feel may that there is nothing left to give, or that we don’t have the energy, the time, or even the knowledge or understanding of what they need or how to help. This is when clear communication is essential.

We also need to know when we are acting out of fear, frustration, or anger. Some people will isolate when they are struggling and close off emotionally, while others will tell everyone they know that they are in crisis. People cope in different ways, and many of those ways may be completely different than our own way of coping.

How do you handle stress?

How do you cope when you are not coping?

Do you let others know? Do you let them help you? Do you shut people out and close off? Do you get angry at others for not saying the right thing or feel hurt that they do not recognize you are in a bad place?

Identfying how you cope as well as how you help others cope is critical for successful relationships, both personal and professional.

Sometimes life can feel like a rollercoaster, and the ups and downs can be debilitating and hard. Sometimes we feel in this alone and sometimes we feel stronger support from those around us.

Don’t forget, too, that those around you will give you space if you need it. They will give you nurturance too, if they know that is what you need. However, if you stay silent, no one will know to help you.

It is also important to reflect on how you support others in their times of need. Do you step in and help? Do you give them space? Do you avoid them? Do you find their stress stressful? That can be another thing that people do not talk about. When we are at our lowest or facing our most challenging times, we may not have the strength or energy to help others, even if they are love ones. At those times, we need to be honest not only with those around us, but with ourselves. Hopefully the other person will understand if we don’t have the energy to give ourselves. It is important to have those discussions when both people are in a good place, so that when crisis hits, there will already be a common understanding established that avoids hurt feelings, rejection, or blame.

Contrary to saying no, we can’t help, there is another approach. When we are focused on our own issues or problems, helping others makes us feel better, because when we help someone else, we gain a sense of wellbeing and acceptance for not only what others are experiencing, but for ourselves as well.

So how do you cope when you are not coping?

Start by looking at old patterns and behaviors and ask yourself honest questions: Can you help yourself? Do you need to ask for help? Do you need to do something to better your situation? Do you need to learn or use a coping skill such as breathing techniques, yoga, mindfulness, qigong or exercise? Do you push people away? Do you smother them with misery? Can you help someone else when you are struggling? Do you need to help yourself first?

Coping is something that we all have to practice at various points in our lives. Coping is also an art in that it can be improved upon and perfected to be personal, goal driven, and healing. Learn how to cope in your personal life and in your professional life and be honest with yourself and others. We are all coping to the best of our ability at times, but where can you implement coping skills to help yourself more, and to help others as we all navigate this life together?

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