When You Face Hard Times, Find Your Inner Strength With These 11 Tips

By Jeremy Service | Posted: June 26, 2019

Last summer, I took a group of youth camping in Algonquin Park. On a beautiful, clear morning we grabbed our canoes and began to cross the lake in search of adventure. As we reached the halfway point, the wind picked up suddenly, and I could see on the horizon ominous storm clouds building as they rushed to catch up with us. The bright blue sky was quickly changing to grey, and the water that had been calm and ripple-free was quickly turning choppy and dangerous as drops of rain began to fall. 

The storm quickly caught up with our group and panic set in. Canoers could be seen in all directions, frantically heading for the shoreline in an effort to take shelter from the furor and to anchor our boats in the safe harbor. We needed to regroup and reorganize as the rough weather passed us by. 

Life can, at times, feel as though we're traveling in a small canoe. Sometimes the water is calm and we find time and energy to really get in tune with ourselves, with God, with the universe, or with nature. There are also times when the waters are more turbulent, when our boat is tossed to and fro, and when we may find ourselves smashing against life's rocks. At these moments, our spirit may feel like it's in turmoil, or sometimes our emotions may drain us. 

These instances give us an opportunity to refocus and revive our spiritual and emotional lives. Here are 11 concepts we can use to get ourselves back into a positive headspace. 

1. Deep breathing techniques

From that initial sigh of breath taken as a baby to the whole-hearted gasp of air after returning to the surface of the water, deep breathing has forever had a calming and fulfilling feeling. When used as a relaxation technique, these feelings offer blissful serenity and can minimize stress-related symptoms such as increased breathing rates, faster heart rates, and can even help manage chronic pain.

2. Consider each person a brother or sister in the journey of life 

By looking at each other as brothers and sisters in life, we’re reminded that we are all equals, regardless of race, age or sex. This simple technique can encourage love and respect for those around you with different backgrounds, lifestyles, and histories. 

3. Morning meditation, prayer, or mindfulness

I am so not a morning person, but there's really something special about being alone at the break of dawn and focusing your thoughts on something positive. This heightened level of focus doesn't end there, either. Stanford University’s Dr. Emma Seppala writes in the Harvard Business Review that meditation can help keep us focused throughout the day and can help boost memory.

4. Start the day with good news

We're bombarded with negative and stressful stories each and every day. With technology shrinking our world we hear every heart wrenching, disappointing or scary piece of news happening on the globe. We need to cleanse our information pallet once in a while and make room for positive news in our life. Spend a little time each morning consuming good, uplifting news stories before diving into the more serious-nature articles of the day. 

5. Embrace your emotions without letting them control your actions

Accepting who we are and becoming the best we can require a clear understanding of how our emotions affect our daily lives. Once we become familiar with our emotional reactions we can better learn to put those emotions aside and react to things on an intellectual level when appropriate. 

6. Eat healthy and recognize how you feel when you don't

A healthy mind requires a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy lifestyle requires healthy foods. You can't feel good if you are filled with unhealthy sustenance with little nutritional value. More importantly, if you do eat unhealthy foods, take a moment to recognize how it makes you feel. Do you feel invigorated and energetic or are there feelings of lethargy? Listen when your body tells you that something you ate wasn't healthy and use that thought to make more nutritional food choices in the future. Ayurveda is a powerful dietary system based on the cycles of the seasons and your own individual constitution--try it out, and see how great you feel!

7. Surround yourself with good, happy, upbeat people

Pessimism and self-pity are contagious attitudes that dole out excuses for us not to be our best selves. Our happiness should be contingent on our attitudes, not the attitudes of others. By creating a circle of friends that motivate us and push us to better our lives we create a positive force. This force pushes us closer and closer to who we want to be and leaves no room for others to get in our way. 

8. You are not a victim

Victim mentality destroys so many lives. Rich, poor, young, old, healthy or weak, we all have our challenges: some that are easily overcome, and others, not so easily. When we give way to a "blame" thought process, we limit our ability to make things better. If we are always waiting for the person who broke us to fix us we waste valuable time that only hurts us more in the long run. Remember that you control the direction your life takes, not anyone else. 

9. Go for walks and exercise often

Indulging in nature and being in the outdoors allows us to appreciate life and it's wonderfully complicated balancing acts. Walking and other forms of exercise have been shown to improve your overall mental health. My exercise of choice is basketball. It helps me to enter into a positive frame of mind and allows me to let go of things that may be weighing heavily on me. 

10. Serve those around you

Take the time and energy to do something nice for someone every day. Something they won't be expecting. Maybe that's taking a meal to someone in need, or mowing the neighbor's lawn. It can be very cathartic to simply help out someone without being asked. It's also a great way to make new friends in your neighborhood. 

11. Be kind!

Really, this is the bottom line. Kindness is the overarching concept that can really help you get back to your spiritual center. Just be kind to anyone and everyone and that goodwill can pay dividends. Being kind is the key to a perpetually positive attitude. 

When dark clouds are on the horizon, it may seem like we have very little control over life's waters. Storms come out of nowhere at the worst possible times; a loved one passes, a job is lost, a sickness develops. Our boats may take on water and we may feel as though we're sinking. It's at these times that we must drop anchor and allow the storm to pass.  

The ideas I've shared are anchors to be used during life's tempests and will help us refocus our spiritual and emotional well being as well as weather life's sudden storms.

Breathwork and meditation can help immensely in enhancing your resilience. Join Beyond Breath, an online guided breathing and meditation session and try it out yourself. 

Jeremy Service is the creator of BallerCoach.com, which is a site designed to help fitness enthusiasts train and learn how to improve their skills. His love for the game and years of experience drives him to create basketball related fitness content for players and coaches at every level of their sport. Follow Jeremy on Facebook.


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