Life is difficult. It breaks all of us.

Work stress, relationship challenges, family demands, mortgages and bills, the price of zucchini going up due to the organic movement in your town…  It all adds up.

Well, when you are curled up in the fetal position under your desk, or taken the day off and lying on your sofa eating ice-cream, remember…

We are all in this together.

All of us are going through similar things  – or at least similar feelings, emotions, fears, and insecurities. This is a career blog, so we could pick as an example the absolute stress associated with finding a job when you are unemployed, securing a summer internship when you are in school, or trying to break back into the market after not having worked for some years.

But the underlying fear, exhaustion, and worry is the same in other situations, such as financial hardship, relationship unhappiness, a bad boss, or just .. life being life.

So what can we do to help ourselves? Try these three things. No magical promises here, just trying to help us feel better, just for today.

  • First, find a quiet space and calm the h*ll down! Your favorite spot on the sofa, a walk outside, the bathroom at work if that’s all that’s available right now. “Take some deep breaths” is probably the most overused, overdone piece of advice EVER but you know what, it works to at least alleviate the immediate craziness. Seriously. Inhale for 8, Exhale for 8. Repeat 8 times.
  • Second, write a gratitude list. OK, even we are sighing and eye-rolling as we write that. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter if you think its stupid- just suspend disbelief and do it – 5 minutes – 10 things you are grateful for. If you are annoyed with all the gratitude postings crowding your Facebook feed, that’s ok too. Don’t worry about that, or them, right now. Just focus on what you have in your life that you like. Here’s one list that we love because it really brings it back to the basics.
  • Third, remember – we are in this together. Recognize the universality of the strange and beautiful struggle that is life, and help someone else. We cannot stress this enough. This is truly the secret tool. When you focus on  someone else, it automatically takes your mind’s focus away from you, and there’s immediate relief. At the very least, don’t judge others. That will NOT help you feel better.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Among all the creatures on Earth, only we can empathize with other members of our species. And since the things that torment us the most are the things that connect us the best to each other, we will feel better when we make that connection.