When I initially decided to actively pursue an English teaching position abroad, I made a conscious decision to push myself outside of my comfort zone and teach in Taiwan, a place that I had never set foot in. I also chose a city that I was unfamiliar with, that my family had never heard of before I signed the contract and stepped onto a plane. Little did I know how much I would learn about dealing with difficult situations, not only when it came to big life-changing situations, but also when coping with everyday life.

Despite words of validation and admiration from friends and family, I won’t lie and tell you that this entire experience has been smooth sailing. Since arriving in Taiwan, I’ve dealt with a variety of challenges in my everyday life.

Here are 4 ways for dealing with difficult situations in life:

1. Exercise Self-care

I can’t overstate the importance of self-care, especially when you are faced with a tough situation in life. Taking care of yourself is so important, regardless of the situation you find yourself in. If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you expect to perform and contribute to the world professionally or personally?

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Everyone has a different form of self-care, whether that’s cooking, seeing friends, watching your favorite Netflix show, or working out. I would recommend scheduling time for self-care when things are particularly hectic. You may not feel that you have time for it, but caring for yourself in any way can help you shift your mindset and satisfaction in the knowledge that you have set aside time for yourself.

For me, this means taking advantage of my days off and watching my favorite Netflix shows when I feel like it. It can also mean cooking when I want to and allowing myself to buy food when I want to instead of screaming at myself, “You have food in your refrigerator that you can eat!”

If you want to do something or eat something, I would say not to deprive yourself. Some days you will only be able to meditate for two minutes instead of your usual ten or work out for 10 minutes instead of your usual hour, and that’s fine. Some days will be better than others.

Caring for yourself is important when you are going through something difficult. When my mentor died, for example, I had to put myself first and take a few days to grieve. Taking time to engage in self-care ultimately let me find closure and move forward faster. Caring for yourself will help you do the same.

2. Surround Yourself With Your Support Group

Being with your friends and people who support you is crucial when you are going through a challenging time. I can tell you that if I didn’t have my support group around me to talk to and offer me a new perspective when I’m too close to a problem, I probably would have folded and left Taiwan a long time ago.

Asking for help is a difficult thing for me to do; it is now only in Taiwan that I am starting to learn that it is okay to ask for help. I am also learning that most people are willing to help you get what you need. Of course, this is not always the case, but more often than not, people will surprise you.

No one can do everything by themselves. I certainly could not have gotten this job in Taiwan on my own without the support of my friends and family, and I certainly could not have survived in Taiwan as long as I have without my fellow teachers and their advice.

Having a support group when you’re going through difficult times can be absolutely priceless.

3. The Importance Of Being Assertive

When you are going through a tough time, it can feel like you don’t have control over your life. In these cases, it’s important to assert yourself and express how you feel as you are dealing with these difficult situations in your life.

I learned the hard way that refraining from expressing how you feel will just make you bitter. Expressing your emotions, especially when you’re dealing with a tough situation is important because it lets the people around you know exactly how you feel.

When I was younger, I didn’t tell my support group or the people around me the truth about how I felt as I was dealing with a problem. This just made the difficult situation even more difficult, and wreaked havoc on my mental health. Your mental health is just as, if not more, important than your physical health when you’re dealing with difficult situations.

I am someone who generally dislikes conflict. I try not to step on people’s toes as much as possible. However, not being assertive led me to a point where I was forced to confront how I felt and tell the people around me how I felt. This doesn’t mean that they were able to do much, but you never know. Sometimes people may be able to help you a lot more than you originally anticipated.

Being assertive when you’re dealing with difficult situations is something that’s great for your mental health too. When you’re dealing with something difficult, the last thing that you need is additional emotional havoc that you inflict on yourself by not expressing how you feel.

4. Learn From Dealing With Difficult Situations

Dealing with difficult situations is something that we all encounter in our twenties. Each of our respective situations and circumstances may be different, but we all run into difficulties. Over time, I’ve learned that the challenges we go through help us grow as people. We may not see the lesson the situation presents immediately, but each difficult situation can teach us something, regardless of whether or not we see the lesson in retrospect or in the present.

We will all face difficult situations throughout our lives. My recent transition has taught me several ways for dealing with difficult situations. Practicing self-care regularly, leaning on your support group, asserting yourself, and reflecting on past situations are all healthy coping mechanisms for life’s tough times.

How do you deal with tough life situations?