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  • Writer's pictureSarah Tian

Surviving Tough Times: 5 Essential Strategies

Updated: May 1

During extremely challenging periods of our lives, ironically, the very aspects of our well-being that we need to maintain — sleep, nutrition, exercise, social connections, and leisure — are often the first to deteriorate. This paradox makes it crucial to consciously prioritize these areas, ensuring you maintain your physical and psychological health.

By focusing on these key practices, you can navigate tough times more effectively and bounce back with resilience.

Here’s a detailed look at the five pillars that support well-being during stressful periods:

1. Sleep Well

Quality sleep is the cornerstone of good health. It's during sleep that your body repairs itself, your brain consolidates memories, and your emotions find balance. During stressful periods, ensuring adequate sleep becomes even more crucial. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate anxiety, depression, and reduce your ability to think clearly and make decisions.

To improve sleep quality:

  • Establish a routine: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps set your body's internal clock.

  • Create a restful environment: Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.

  • Wind down: Develop a pre-sleep ritual like reading or gentle stretching to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.

2. Eat Well

What you eat affects your mood and energy levels. During challenging times, it's tempting to turn to comfort foods, but these are often high in sugar and fat, which can lead to a crash in mood and energy. Instead, nourishing your body with balanced meals can provide the sustained energy you need to handle stress.

To maintain a balanced diet:

  • Incorporate variety: Eat a wide range of foods to get a comprehensive array of nutrients.

  • Stay hydrated: Water is essential for optimal brain function and energy.

  • Plan meals: Planning helps avoid the temptation of unhealthy snacks and fast food.

3. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity is a powerful stress reliever. It not only helps to burn off stress but also boosts your mood thanks to the release of endorphins, known as 'feel-good' hormones. Regular exercise can also help mitigate some of the psychological and physical effects of stress.

To integrate exercise into your routine:

  • Find activities you enjoy: Whether it’s walking, cycling, yoga, or team sports, enjoying the activities ensures you stick with them.

  • Set realistic goals: Even short bouts of exercise, like a 10-minute walk, can have benefits.

  • Be consistent: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

4. Seek Social Support

Humans are social creatures, and isolation can exacerbate stress and depression. Seeking support from friends, family, or professional counselors can provide emotional comfort and practical help during hard times.

To enhance social support:

  • Reach out: Don’t wait for others to notice you’re struggling. Be proactive in reaching out for support.

  • Join groups: Support groups or clubs can provide a sense of belonging and shared experiences.

  • Use technology: When face-to-face interactions aren’t possible, use calls, texts, or video chats to stay connected.

5. Do Something Just for Fun

Amidst the trials of challenging times, it's crucial to find moments of joy and engagement in activities just for the sake of fun. This can be a great way to mentally decompress and restore energy. Activities like pressing flowers, crafting, or engaging in a hobby you’ve neglected can provide a joyful escape and a reminder of the beauty in life despite its challenges.

To engage in fun activities:

  • Explore your interests: Rediscover old hobbies or explore new ones that have always intrigued you.

  • Set aside time: Just as you would for any important appointment, block out time in your calendar for fun.

  • Keep it light: The goal is to enjoy the activity without pressure or expectations. Let it be a free space for creativity and relaxation.


Challenging times demand extraordinary resilience, and maintaining your well-being through these four practices can make a significant difference. Remember, it's not about perfection but about making small, manageable changes in your daily routine.

By prioritizing sleep, nutrition, exercise, and social connections, you can not only survive but thrive during life's most challenging periods.


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