how to get back on your feet

Surviving tough times and moving on after facing a setback

Once you've accepted a setback or failure and recognised the reasons why it happened, it becomes much easier to plan the future and get back on track.

Life can surprise us with unforeseen events that we often don’t see coming our way. The loss of a loved one, a sudden heartbreak, a serious mishap, the onset of an illness, a professional setback or a global pandemic—life can throw quite a few curveballs at us. While some of these circumstances may have short-term effects, others can be a lot more painful to process over time. With the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, many of us are feeling lost, anxious and overwhelmed. Although the end may nowhere be in sight, we need to stay resilient, cope with the challenges that are accompanied by these uncertain times, and find ways to get back on track.

Facing setbacks can take a toll on your confidence, motivation and self-development. But if you choose to view them in a positive light, you can use that very setback as a stepping stone to get back on track. Getting back after a setback can be accomplished by adopting simple yet effective steps to help you emerge stronger than ever and stay resilient in the face of adversity.

Let’s take a closer look at how to push forward after facing a setback.

Acknowledge your situation

If your setback was caused by a failure, it is important to recognise and accept what didn’t work and use that knowledge to move on. The longer you dwell on something that has passed, the harder it becomes to get over it. Accept that the setback happened for a reason and it ended up teaching you a valuable lesson for the future. It is also important to stop being in denial about your mistake or make excuses for it. Instead, focus on the future and what you will change this time around, and how much better your approach will be. A setback can also help you gain a new perspective that could make the present much better than the past. Acknowledge it, and then put yourself out there!

Reaffirm your goals

While experiencing a setback is tough, it is also the ideal moment to assess if a goal still finds a place in your long-term vision. In fact, it is the perfect time to identify what is burdening you so that you can work towards turning an obstacle into an opportunity. Building a concrete strategy to reaffirm and realign your goals can motivate you to start the process of recovery and bring your focus back to where it should belong. Write your goals down and note the skills needed to achieve them. Realigning your goals with your purpose and passion encourages you to walk away from your setback and gets you going towards your goals. At this stage, it is useful to consider taking smaller and more calculated risks to regain a sense of control without risking everything.

Don’t shy away from seeking help

Often, the only thing holding you back from recovering from a major setback is the right kind of support. Reach out for mental and emotional support from people who are eager to help, whether they are friends, family or colleagues. Be in the company of people who can hear you out without prejudice. During difficult times, it is important to surround yourself, even if virtually, with people who comfort you, uplift you and give you the tools you need to refocus on your present and future. Research published in the journal Ecology and Society revealed that the more supportive your network of people, the more resilient you emerge. Also, watching or reading about how people have overcome similar obstacles can  be a revealing experience, helping you get back on track.

Reflect on past successes and failures

Self-confidence takes the greatest hit after a setback, however, there is a way to reduce its impact. Rather than mulling over what went wrong, focus on your accomplishments in life. Failing does not mean you’re worthless, or you’ll never achieve your goals. Instead of harping on where you went wrong, recall all the times when things went right. By doing so, you remind yourself what you do truly makes a difference. Use your problem as an opportunity to introspect, looking at how far you’ve come from the point you initially started. At the same time, you need to reflect upon not only your success but also your past failures, since both bring learning opportunities. By reflecting on past experiences, you become much more mindful of your strengths and weaknesses, which help you focus better on achieving your goals.

Take action

Once you’ve accepted your failure and recognised the reasons why you failed, it becomes much easier to plan how to tackle the same in the future. Take a deeper look into the specific causes of your worries rather than the whole picture. You may then find that the root cause of the problem is more manageable than you first imagined. Take stock of what you have learned from your setback so far. Accordingly, recondition your skills, knowledge, insights and experiences to get back on track and accomplish your future goals.

Take a break

Setbacks can be devastating, which is why it becomes important to give yourself the time to heal and recuperate. When life goes haywire, you feel the urge to fix everything at once, which often overwhelms and incapacitates your efforts. On the other hand, by occupying yourself with things that you love doing, you feel more confident and can manage your stress better. Do something creative or try a new hobby to uncover your sense of wonder. Also, top-up on your self-care to boost your wellbeing. Rediscover the small pleasures of life to get some reprieve from your worries so that you can get back on track.

Make your health a priority

Prolonged stress drains your body of essential nutrients and minerals, hence, it is important to replenish by following a healthy diet. Consider fresh fruit and vegetable juices, yoghurt, nuts and seeds, salads and protein-rich food. Also, when you’re mentally exhausted or dealing with disruptive circumstances, you need to get sufficient sleep to relax and recharge.

Additionally, physical activity is an important way to rebuild your mental strength and resilience. You could sign up for an online yoga class or make the most of your household chores. Also, stress-relieving strategies such as meditation and progressive muscle relaxation will clear your head and help you get back on track after a challenging period.


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