When life gives you lemons


Last week was a bit chaotic for me so this week I want to talk about what to do when life throws you a curveball. Let's be honest, life happens, and sometimes, life's a bitch.

How do you keep up when you're juggling a ton of different things in your life? The answer is simple: as well as you possibly can.

Sometimes, depending on what we're dealing with, we need to take a break. In my case, I definitely needed a whole day of not doing anything. Now, hear me out, I'm not saying give up and eat a bag of crisps, that's totally opposite of what I'm talking about. I'm saying give yourself a break.

My news (I'm not ready to talk more specific about them just yet) came on Tuesday. Tuesday was a bit of a shock day, but after work, I went to the ballet with a friend, as planned - we had tickets for months. That night, I got back home quite late and my brain was racing, so between messaging friends and doing online research, and processing, I went to bed late.

My plan had been to workout as usual, but when my mind was on again very early in the morning, I realised I was exhausted. So I decided to give myself a break, lick my wounds and then get back up.

1. Take a day off

Or three, or a week. The length is not important, the important bit is that you decide on a length, and stick to it. Ideally not a month though. This time off is not a free-fall so you can completely disregard all your habits and goals, but more so you can give yourself a break.

Last week, my day off consisted of watching series, so I forgot about my exercise, but I stuck to my healthy eating habits and I never broke my Whole30 (when life gives you lemons, you can make a great lemon and lime zinger drink, which is totally compliant and healthy!).

This works because your body and your mind needs to feel a bit sorry for themselves but the key point is that once that day is over, you get yourself slowly back on track.

2. Rely on your network

Ideally, you already have a bunch of friends you can talk to, or a gym/running buddy. In your worst moments, they become invaluable.

Maybe you need to talk about what's going on, or maybe you need a kick in the butt to get you out. Rely on your network. Don't be afraid to ask for help, if that's what you need. Your friends will definitely be there for you.

I had already made plans to go for a run on Thursday with my friend. Now, you can imagine how little I felt like going for a run. To make things worse, it was raining (and snowing!) on Thursday evening in London. So we decided to move our run and session to the gym. Yep, I stepped on a treadmill.

Now, I wasn't feeling it, my body wasn't feeling it, and I hated the idea of running, but I still did it. I knew pushing it to 5k was going to be too much, so I did an interval session on the treadmill. It was short, but intense, so it got the job done.

You will feel down, you will feel tired, and that's alright. Own it and adjust your workout as needed. You don't have to give 110% every single time. You just have to get out and work out. Having a friend that won't bail, or working with a personal trainer will just do the trick and keep you accountable.

3. Deal in your own terms

Your network is varied, and you'll have some people to whom you don't want to tell the news, and others whose help you will need to get you back up. It's OK to not want to talk to everyone. And it's also OK to tell different people different parts of your story.

In my case, I know some people are going to stress me out more than help, so I choose not to tell them stuff until I have everything figured out.

Other people in my network, I need them to feel sorry for me, and to hug me and pat me on the back.

There are others who I need as a sounding board. They help me come up with ideas and plans to get back out there, and plan for the future.

And then, there's the other group. They are the ones that help me realise life doesn't need to be take too seriously. I need them to laugh at adversity with me.

Story time. When I got my news last week, as soon as people found out they were giving me the sad puppy eyes and asking me if I was OK, which made me sad myself and want to cry. And I hated it. When I thought about my situation rationally, I knew it would either be fixed, or it would become an opportunity, so there was no point in crying (side note: many times, crying is fine, don't be ashamed to cry; it just wasn't working for me this particular time). So I asked people to change the mood about me. Sure, ask me if I'm OK, but don't feel sad or sorry for me, make a joke, pretend it's not important, and then I'll be fine. I needed to deal with it in my own terms.

And it worked! Instead of feeling sorry for myself and cry, and eat comfort food, I realised it was not the end of the world and started planning and thinking ways of fixing my situation. A much better way to spend my time.

4. Keep yourself distracted

There's nothing worse than having nothing to do in your spare time, because the devil finds work for idle hands. You will overthink, you will feel sorry for yourself, and you will give up on your goals. And that's a no-no.

Have your friends over for dinner, if that's appropriate in your situation, a small group of friends you trust and know you'll have a great time with. Read a book. Go for a walk. Cook. Have a bath. Listen to music. Whatever small thing will keep your mind occupied will help.

5. Focus on the great

This one is a toughie. For some reason, it's always easier to remember our mistakes than our successes (remember when you said that stupid thing 14 years ago? Yeah, me too... Mine still keeps me awake at night sometimes!).

We all have successes we need to focus on, and sometimes those successes are getting out of bed. Hey, once again, we can't always give 110%!

My successes last week were pretty simple, and nothing like my usual ones, and that's OK with me. I didn't sleep in, feeling sorry for myself. I didn't give up on Whole30. I only took my one day off and managed to go out (in, in this case) and run when scheduled. I even cleaned my home, because for me, having my home clean and tidy helps me think and feel better.

I'd like to point out that I'm not talking about a chronic situation or depression here, but news that throws you off your track suddenly (and basically destroys your track, and erases your schedule, and makes a big mess of everything!). If you have a chronic illness, or you suffer from depression, some of these steps might help, but they might also feel impossible to achieve... You'll only be able to take one baby step at a time, or you might not be able to take any steps for a bit, and that's also OK. On that note, know that even if we don't know each other, I'm always happy to talk and listen, and that there's a lot of help out there for you!

I think the key point from this whole story is that it's OK to not feel OK, just don't let it take over your whole life and get back up as soon as you can.

Remember life can give you lemons, but it's up to you to choose what to do with them.

I'm still getting back up. Right now I have my priorities all over the place, but I'm little by little reconstructing my schedule. This week everything will be decided, so I'll be able to share more details soon (some people in my network haven't heard yet, and I don't feel like sharing it with them yet).

Now a question for you, how do you deal with life's setbacks? Do you have a strategy in place?