5 Tips for Navigating Difficult Seasons of Life

In the last few weeks, I’ve talked to several friends who are caring for aging parents. One described a day when she needed to be with each parent in a different location, with one being an emergent situation. The other friend mentioned how caring for her parent changed the landscape of her weekends. I reminded both that current circumstances are only for a season, and seasons change.

Difficult seasons aren’t limited to caregiving. Your challenge may be the aftermath of a broken relationship, the grief of a lost loved one, or a transition to a new job or location.

Here are some tips to help you maintain forward motion in a challenging season of life:

Recognize Stress

Even if you aren’t totally aware of it, stress is present when times are hard. Frustration over insignificant things, or an explosion of temper, when you least expect it, signal stress.

Holidays and anniversaries are stress-producing for those grieving any type of loss. Whether fresh grief, or heartache that has blanketed your life for many seasons, grief brings stress.

Try to find sources of joy amid your sadness. Joy and sadness are not either/or emotions. Both emotions are fluid, intermingling as they ebb and flow.

Accept Help

Many people are hesitant to accept help because they think it makes them appear weak or incapable. For some it is a control issue, feeling only you can do what has to be done. But others are willing to help, especially those who have navigated difficult seasons ahead of you.

Consider seeking counsel rather than shouldering the burden on your own. Sometimes just talking to a trusted friend or counselor helps you see beyond your current circumstances, or map out a plan of action when all paths seemed blocked previously. Remember, people who offer to help do so from concern, not because they pity you or view you as incapable.

Practice Self-Care

When I was caring for my mother, I reasoned I had no time for regular checkups. After taking her to numerous doctors’ appointments and accompanying her to multiple trips to the hospital, another doctor visit was the last thing I wanted. I later learned that symptoms I wrote off as stress were a serious health conditions that took over five years to get back in normal range.

When you are navigating a difficult season of life, don’t neglect your physical or emotional health. Keep regular healthcare appointments, and don’t put off screenings and other procedures.

Document your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Read books, articles, and devotionals as sources of inspiration and encouragement. Self-care is not selfish; it is wise.

Expect a Change of Seasons

Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness often plague those navigating a challenging phase of life. Current circumstances imitate swimming in a vast ocean with no visible sign of shore. No matter how hard or fast you swim, you can’t make headway. Some days feel as if keeping your head above water takes all your strength.

When you are in overwhelming circumstances, it appears nothing will ever change, but hold on. A change of seasons is on the way. Suddenly, you notice subtle differences—a lighter mood, lessening grief, renewed interest in something that once brought you pleasure. Then, one day, you awaken to a warm breeze and blue skies as a new season begins.

Watch for Sources of Renewed Hope

One of the biggest challenges of a hard season of life is having faith that circumstances will improve. Trust relinquishes control and waits with expectancy. Look for small blessings as you wait for big changes. Take each day as it comes and watch for God’s mercies and faithfulness anew each morning. Each day brings a fresh breath of renewed hope.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 ESV

 

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