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Once you’ve been alive long enough, it’s never a question of will your life fall apart.
It’s just a matter of when.
And when it does, it can feel like you’re being dragged into a million different directions, with the winds of change scattering pieces of you where you can no longer reach them.
Eventually, the dust will settle and you’ll regain the strength to get back up on your feet.
But how do you put all your broken pieces back together so you can feel strong, happy and whole again?
How do you get your life together when it feels like everything’s falling to pieces, and you don’t even know where to begin?
It won’t be easy, but it is possible.
Here’s where to start.
1. TALK ABOUT IT
The urge to withdraw and weather the storm alone may be there, but nine times out of ten, talking to someone you trust about what you’re going through will help life the heaviness off your shoulders and make you feel better.
Life feels less lonely and isolated when you work up the courage to open up share what you’re going through and receive support that others are willing and able to give.
Reaching out will also help you see that whatever it is you’re going through, you’re not the only one struggling with it.
Often, speaking to an experienced therapist who can help you navigate the difficult emotions you’re feeling can help create a path of calm and clarity for you to move forward on.
2. WALK AWAY FROM TOXIC PEOPLE
The harsh truth about friendships that all of us have to accept at some point in our lives is this: Not all your friends will be good for you, and this is never more obvious than when you’re in a low, painful place.
“A toxic person is anyone who has poisoned your life, who is not supportive, who is not happy to see you grow, to see you succeed, who does not wish you well. In essence, he or she sabotages your efforts to lead a happy and productive life”, says Dr. Lillian Glass, an interpersonal communication and body language expert who wrote the book Toxic People: 10 Ways of Dealing With People Who Make Your Life Miserable.
While there are many approaches you can take to manage the toxic people in your circle, one of the most effective is to completely close off contact with them for the sake of your mental health, says Dr. Glass.
Choosing to focus your finite time and energy on true friends who’ll make you feel safe and supported will make walking your path to healing that much easier.
3. STOP PROCRASTINATING
When I feel like there’s something eating away at my inner peace, it’s usually because I haven’t done something that I know will help make things better.
While researchers haven’t uncovered the reasons we procrastinate, they theorize that it may have its roots in self-critical, apprehensive and catastrophic thoughts that can make it mentally impossible for you to move forward, explain Dr. Jane B. Burka and Dr. Lenora M. Yuen, the authors of Procrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About It Now.
Because of this, they say, your first step to overcoming procrastination is to realize that you’re probably thinking unrealistically about your goals.
4. GET ORGANIZED
If you’re going about your days in a random, haphazard way, you’re probably not making as much progress with your goals as you should be.
Give them energy and momentum by creating some kind of structure around them with a daily plan that’ll guide you out of the darkness.
Without a plan, you’ll stay stuck instead of going from strength to strength.
5. FOCUS ON DOING
The only way to not stay stuck in a ditch is to climb out of it.
No matter how deep you are in it, you’ll eventually find your way out of the mud and to freedom if you keep putting one foot in front of the other.
When you’re fighting to get your life together, taking action matters more than standing still ever will.
6. SET GOALS THAT MOTIVATE YOU
Consider this: What’s a change — big or small — in your life that’ll make you feel excited to get out of bed in the morning?
Having something that you look forward to, to work on can help focus your attention on what could go right, instead of what’s going wrong.
7. OWN YOUR ACTIONS
One of the hardest things in life to realize is this: There’s no one coming to save you.
Sure, it’s easy to own the good that you do, but taking ownership of the bad is where things get hard.
If you’re lucky enough to have a tight group of friends and family around to help you out of the occasional bind, that’s amazing.
But whatever actions that you take — whether intentional or not, good or bad — and their consequences, are one hundred percent on you.
You can always blame your mistakes on someone else, but not acknowledging your part in something going wrong will only set you up for a life of denial.
And when you’re working on putting the pieces of your life back together, only the truth can set you free and lift you up.
8. NURTURE A CALM MIND
All of us are vessels of past traumas and hurts, and somewhere in our consciousness is a deep, painful wound that can reopen and start bleeding at any time.
The only way to help this wound heal is to figure out how it got there, why, and how to stop it from bleeding you dry of your life energy and happiness.
The more aware you are of the situations that trigger chaos in your mind, the better you’ll be at dealing with them so you can move through the storms that come your way with a calm, clear head.
9. GET FITTER AND HEALTHIER
Even when you don’t feel like it, just getting dressed, showing up and making it through a tough workout will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something for the day.
Putting the right food habits in place will energize you mentally and physically.
With time and consistency, both will fuel the drive you need to stay on your feet and keep moving forward.
10. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
It’s hard to do much of anything when you’re operating on 3 hours of sleep a night.
You can’t think in a straight line because it’s impossible to focus.
Your mornings are a blur because your body feels like chaos inside.
You’re sluggish, cranky, and desperate to crash into a deep sleep all damn day.
To sleep better, start with getting the basics right, says Dr. Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power of Sleep and Dreams.
These include wearing a sleep mask, ear plugs, lying on a comfortable mattress and pillow (like the Tuft & Needle Original Mattress and Tuft & Needle Foam Pillow), and using non-LED lights at night to help establish and maintain a strong sleep-wake pattern.
Other simple steps you can take to get more shut eye are going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, exercising at least 30 minutes on most days (but no later than three hours before bedtime) and avoiding large meals before bed.
11. CELEBRATE YOUR WINS
You probably don’t pat yourself on the back nearly enough, or even at all.
How do I know? Because I don’t either.
It’s something that I’m trying to change, and I hope you will too.
Wake up, breathe, move, do something worthwhile, repeat.
On days when it’s hard to get going, these small wins are worth celebrating, because they’re the first steps to bigger things.
12. CREATE DAILY ROUTINES
Make your non-negotiables a permanent part of your life by building routines around them.
Want to exercise more? Do it at the same time on the same days at the same place wearing the same clothes.
Want to eat better? Prep your meals for the week so you don’t give in to haphazard food choices at the last minute, or just use an affordable meal planning service like $5 Meal Plan to save time and cash.
Want to have better relationships? Make a list of the people who are important to you and schedule time to check in with them.
Consistent and reliable repetition turns your random ideas into reality.
13. GET A GRIP ON YOUR FINANCES
Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you time, and time is something you may need a lot of when you’re healing from a setback that’s knocked the wind out of your sails.
Start building a cushion of sanity-saving cash by tracking where your money’s going every month, looking for areas where you can cut down on spending, and save the rest.
It may sound daunting and restrictive, but it doesn’t have to be, says Ramit Sethi, a personal finance expert and author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just A 6-Week Program That Works.
Rather than live like a penny-pinching scrooge, he advocates figuring out what living what he calls ‘A Rich Life’ looks like for you.
“A Rich Life means you can spend extravagantly on the things you love as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things that you don’t”, he writes in I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
His top tip for getting there? “Focus on the Big Wins — the five to ten things that get you disproportionate results, including automating your savings and investing, finding a job you love and negotiating your salary.”
You may think that you’re breathing, but you’re not.
Those sharp, shallow breaths you’re taking all day may be keeping you alive, but not without making you feel anxious and on edge.
Help your body heal by teaching it to take slow, deep breaths.
Belly in, belly out at a clockwork pace tells it that you’re getting better, and everything’s going to be alright.
15. STOP PEOPLE-PLEASING
Now’s the time to stop leaking energy in places where it’s not earned.
You’ll never get everyone to like or care about you, so stop trying.
Save your energy by pulling back and putting your energy where it’s needed — getting oxygen back into your lungs, strength back in your muscles, and will back in your spirit.
16. LEARN FROM YOUR FAILURES
Not everything’s going to go your way, and if you can’t muster up the humility to wave that white flag and learn from your mistakes, you’re screwed.
We all know someone who never wants to admit that they’re wrong — don’t be that person.
Taking on a growth mindset is hard and uncomfortable, but it’ll save you from losing yourself … for good.
17. GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER
Do the dishes as soon as you’re done eating.
Take out the trash so it doesn’t build up and make your house smell bad.
Pay your bills on time.
The better shape your living and working spaces are in, the more organized your mental state will be.
An effective starting point for transforming your home into a calming sanctuary is Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way To Banish Clutter Forever.
18. LIVE IN THE PRESENT
If you’re constantly obsessing over the past and worrying about the future, the less mental space you’ll have for making the present better.
When you find your mind falling into that time-travel trap, get out of your head by focusing your attention elsewhere.
Go for a run, put on your dancing shoes and paint the town red, hop on a roller coaster ride — whatever it takes to derail your train of negative thinking and get it grounded back in reality.
19. START A GRATITUDE PRACTICE
The more space you carve out in your mind for the good stuff in your life, the less space there’ll be for complaining and resentment.
One way to start making room for gratitude in your life is to write down three good things in your life that you’re thankful for before you go to bed.
Big or small, write it down.
Remember, even the smallest of wins matter.
20. LEARN TO DELAY GRATIFICATION
Most people don’t realize that true wealth is built with patience.
A fit, healthy body is made by sticking with the right habits day after day, with no promise of chiseled abs overnight or even next month.
You just chip away at the hard stuff and one morning, you wake up and realize that your body looks and feels different than it used to.
A fat, juicy bank account is made when your money keeps on making more money, thanks to compound interest.
Your dream of never having to answer to a boss ever again becomes a reality by spending your nights building your own dream, little by little instead of going out with your friends.
Sure, sometimes there are shortcuts to getting what you want, but they can end up costing you more than you bargained for, and are never nearly as meaningful or rewarding as being patient is.
21. LIMIT YOUR TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA
If you’re not being intentional with your time on social media, chances are that you’re being sucked into the highlight reel comparison game.
And if you’re like the average social media user around the world, you’re probably clocking in close to three hours a day scrolling through your feeds — time that you’re better off freeing up to work on yourself.
22. ACCEPT WHAT YOU CANNOT CHANGE
No matter how much you want to, you can’t change the past.
The only thing you can do anything about is the moment you’re in now, which means that you have a say in how your future will pan out.
Give yourself the closure you need by acknowledging and accepting what’s happened, then decide to create a better future for yourself by figuring out what you’re going to do about it.
23. BE REAL ABOUT WHO YOU ARE
The traits that got you here ain’t the same ones that’ll get you to where you want to go.
To make things better, you’ll need to get real about your strengths and flaws, and the role both have played in carving out the path you’ve been on.
Be honest with yourself: What strengths of yours can you sharpen to rise higher in this next phase of your life?
What weaknesses can you work on improving so they don’t hold you back the way they have in the past?
24. BE A BETTER COMMUNICATOR
No one’s an island, and if you’re planning to make some major changes to your life, you’re probably going to need help making them.
This calls for one thing: The ability to understand and be understood by others.
As you put the pieces of your life back together, listening and connecting will be your best friends.
25. RESIST THE URGE TO COMPLAIN
As a former chronic complainer who’s still in recovery, I can tell you this: Nobody cares about your complaints, especially if that’s all you’re doing.
Everyone’s too busy dealing with their own problems, so you might as well spend your time and energy finding answers for yours instead of ranting about them at every possible opportunity.
The less complaining you do, the less negativity you’ll breed in your life, and the more energy you’ll have to devote to getting back on your feet.
Online-Therapy.com Therapy has taught me to look at my life and the metaphorical mountains (mental, emotional, and physical) I’m climbing from a different perspective, and how to navigate them in better, healthier ways — skills that I feel everyone should have but aren’t taught in school, and rarely, at home. Online-Therapy offers you an affordable way to get the help (or mental health flossing as I like to call it) you need starting from $40 per week. Membership comes with a live, 45-minute session with your therapist plus unlimited messaging each week, and access to their online cognitive behavioral therapy program. Together, these tools equip you with the skills you need to navigate difficult emotions, as well as yoga and meditation videos for additional support. If this is your first time using Online-Therapy, you’ll receive 20% off your first month here.
Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways To Slow Down And Enjoy The Things That Really Matter by Elaine St. James I got my hands on this treasure over 15 years ago, way before simple living and minimalism became popular, and it was the first resource that introduced me to practical, everyday steps I could take to ‘un-complicate’ my life. I didn’t have enough life experience then to ‘get’ everything that St. James presents in this book, but when I revisit the pages of Simplify Your Life now, they make perfect sense. If you’re just starting out in your simple living journey and are exploring your possibilities, I highly recommend giving this a read first.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way To Banish Clutter Forever by Marie Kondo Being able to pay attention to the little things in your life starts with decluttering — not the easiest thing to do if your living (or even work) space is disorganised and drowning in stuff. This is my bible as far as tidying up my space and keeping it that way goes.
Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill This classic is so much more than what its title implies — it’s also a guide to taking control of the biggest driver behind everything you do and the reality you create for yourself: Your mind.
The Simple Living Guide When life feels overwhelming, this guide-and-workbook-in-one will help you gain clarity with your values, well-being, career, relationships and money.
The Good Morning Guide If your mornings are typically rushed, chaotic and stressful, I made this guide to help you start your day calm, sane and strong.
Tribe Of Mentors: Short Life Advice From The Best In The World by Timothy Ferriss Nothing beats having a mentor in your life who can personally guide you from day one. But not everyone does, and if (like me), you don’t, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from the best virtually or through books. Take what you need from the likes of Ray Dalio, Ben Stiller, Bear Grylls and more in this varied but comprehensive compilation of bite-sized advice on life, work and purpose from some of the best minds in the world.
$5 Meal Plan Cut back on the stress of cooking your own meals, and save time and money with a meal-planning service like $5 Meal Plan. As a member, you’ll get a pre-made meal plan, recipes and shopping list for five dinners and sides, plus one breakfast and lunch emailed to you every week. Prefer to have a custom plan for each week? You can pick specific recipes by cooking method, ingredients, dietary preference and meal of the day. Sign up for a free, 14-day trial here.
Amazon Fresh Barely have time to cook, let alone do your grocery shopping? Shop online and have all your ingredients delivered to your doorstep with Amazon Fresh. Get all the fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, dairy, whole grains and even kitchen supplies you need to cook healthy, flavorful meals at home.
Amazon Meal Kits Want healthy meals that taste good and all the ingredients you need picked out, prepped and sent to your doorstep? Amazon Prime members (not one yet? You can sign up for a 30-day free trial here), have the option to order Amazon Meal Kits, which contain fresh, prepped, one-pan meal ingredients that you can whip into a meal in 10 minutes or less.
iHerb This I order all my daily vitamins plus my favorite healthy snacks and natural personal care essentials from iHerb because all the products they sell are independently tested by third-party laboratories to verify their quality and authenticity. Shipping is usually quick and free (with a minimum purchase), making it a convenient alternative. If this is your first time buying, you get 10% off their first order.
START FEELING CALMER, HAPPIER & HEALTHIER…NOW
If you’re too busy surviving, chances are, you’re not thriving. You’re feeling tired, unhealthy, unmotivated and just plain worn-out from life. I created my FREE Daily Self-Care Ritual Workbook just for busy folks like you who want to take back their health, peace of mind and happiness. Get your very own copy of the workbook HERE. No spam. Just helpful, good-for-you stuff. Pinky swear.