“Just take it one day at a time”, she said.
“Of course, what else can I do”, you reply.
If you’ve gone through a difficult time in your life, I am sure that at some time or another, someone has advised you to “take it one day at a time.” I am equally certain, that without much thought, you agreed.
Unexpected change or a challenging situation, such as parenting a child with a disability, divorce, financial stress or loss of a loved one, will result in many different feelings and reactions. The initial shock and the overload of emotions, may have a huge impact on your well-being. Not knowing what to expect next, and the fear of uncertainty for the future, can quickly take over your life.
It’s easy to become stuck in believing that an abnormal situation, is normal. You, nor your family and friends may know what to do next, so the suggestion of, “taking it one day at a time” provides positive encouragement.
My concern is that this advice has been so frequently offered, that I wonder if the message behind it has become weakened and dismissed. The know-how to take it one day at a time, can be unclear and obscure.
Take a moment to ask yourself…
“What does it really mean to take life one day at a time?”
“How do I do that?”
“How do I get unstuck?”
According to Deepak Chopra, M.D. and author of numerous books on alternative medicine, “Getting unstuck means living in the present moment. Don’t think about the past and don’t think too much about the future.”
If we can do this, each day is essentially new; new goals, new purpose, new wishes, new focus. We would be liberated and free from feeling overwhelmed and overcome by ongoing stress. In other words, “little by little”, and things will get done. Tackle each challenge, “One step at a time”.
Putting this into practice, can be easier said than done. Thinking about my own experiences, speaking to many people about their experiences and doing some additional research, I have learned some key tips for “taking it one day at a time”.
10 Tips for Getting Unstuck and Taking it One Day At a Time
- Know that you are not alone. Most people who go through a personal crisis experience the same emotions that you are. Knowing that what you are feeling is a natural part of coping and the stages of grief, can provide some comfort and reduce anxiety.
- Try to figure out what is getting you down or giving you stress. A good way to do this is to write down or journal about what is happening in your day. It doesn’t have to be very elaborate or time consuming. At the end of each day, write down a few reflections about what happened and how you’re feeling. After a while, it won’t be difficult to identify the negative patterns.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself the time to process what has happened, as well as time to cope with your new situation at your own pace.
- Think of it as an opportunity. Try not to think about your circumstances as a struggle but rather as a time to learn, expand your thinking and a chance for re-thinking what is truly important to you.
- Leave the past where it belongs. What’s done, is done. We can’t change it. Reflect on your passed experiences and think about what you have learned and what you can do to make a difference in the present moment. If we keep dwelling on the past, or wanting it to be the way it used to be, it will be more difficult to realize the possibilities that lay ahead.
- Try not to worry about the future. We often think ahead and feel anxious about what might happen. A good friend once said to me, “Why are you worrying about something that may never occur? Try not to think about what might take place. If and when it does, you will sort it out then.” It’s wise advice.
- Be vulnerable. If you try to show others that you are strong and that you can do it all, no one will every know that you want some support and encouragement. Share your feelings with people whom you trust. It’s your chance to vent and release.
- Rest when you are tired. As we become tired and fatigued, our tolerance and patience decreases. Don’t push yourself until you reach the point of exhaustion. Give yourself a break. You will feel refreshed and be more even-tempered.
- Be thankful for what you have, not for what you don’t. I know that you have heard this before and I believe it’s worth repeating again. According to mindfulness practitioners, if you feel grateful for what you have in the present moment, you will be happier and more content and you will have an environment where creative solutions continue to emerge.
- Meditate. Go to a quiet room. Get comfortable. Focus on your breathing, and nothing else. Try to do this at least 10 minutes. Taking this pause will give you time to stop thinking and just breathe.
There’s a quote by Victor Frankl, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor that I want to share.
He said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Every day unfolds the next step of your journey. Take it, one day at a time!