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Deal With Upheaval

Here Are 5 Things You Can Do


Life is uncertain. One minute, you’re doing what you always do, and the next moment everything seems to come crashing to a halt. You’re left floundering and everything in your life overwhelms you.

In that moment, you’re caught in the storm of upheaval and you don’t always know what to do.

There are several things you can do to regain a clear head, which will boost your ability to cope better. Naturally, every upheaval is going to be different. Thankfully, these five things are usually available, regardless of the severity or the cause of the storm.


In December 2018, after several months of soul searching and worry, our family of three decided to make the leap and move from sunny South Africa to wintry Toronto. We were naïve.

In our defense I would say there wasn’t any way we could have prepared better for what laid ahead anyway. Our lack of preparedness definitely played an enormous role in just how unsettling this experience was.

Of course, moving to Canada wasn’t all bad. Not even close. But the bad was pretty horrendous.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. We would definitely do it all over if we could go back in time. Would I move now to yet another country? No. We’re very happy where we are now. It was tough and in many ways are still tough. We know that and reconciled ourselves to that reality. But we’re settled in now and we feel this is home. So no, no more country hopping for us like that ever again.

Moving is one of those self-inflicted difficulties everyone goes through. Sometimes it is forced on you, so it isn’t really fair to say it is “one of those self-inflicted” challenges because it isn’t always by choice.

But moving countries is definitely “our own fault”.

As I share these thoughts now, I realize this statement is also not necessarily true for everyone. For example, your life may get to a point where moving countries is inevitable, at least in your own mind. Think of what’s going on in the Ukraine and Afghanistan just as two examples.

In our case, though, we decided to get out of South Africa for a very long list of reasons, and to move to Canada for a different list of reasons too. Push factors. Pull factors. That sort of thing. But none of those reasons, not even in combination or in totality, were enough to support the argument that we didn’t have a choice in the matter. So for us it definitely was a conscious decision that we made and that we had to live with.

The long months leading up to our date of departure was hell. We had a week or two where the number of hours sleep was about the same as the number of days of the week. So sleep was sometimes a luxury that we didn’t have. Our lack of sleep contributed to our stress and anxiety much more than it helped solve any of the pressing issues we faced. We didn’t know this at the time.

One moment that stands out in my mind, was when we said our good byes to loved ones who saw us off at the airport. That was tough. But we had the self-assurances that the good-byes weren’t forever. We haven’t been back to South Africa for our first visit yet. So it’s been a while, showing again our naivety.

But the thing about that moment at the airport that really stands out in my mind, was also that it was a terrifying feeling to go through the security check point and realizing that there wasn’t a single set of keys in the checkpoint tray. No house keys, car keys, mailbox keys or anything. There wasn’t anything that grounded me at that moment. I felt like I was going airborne and that gravity would no longer be real.

In hindsight, this was merely the beginnings of our difficulties. And what followed makes the months before, and that terrifying moment at the airport, fade into the fog of a very dark and scary storm that wreaked havoc on our lives, isolating us from our civilization at the time. Because we couldn’t dare share our experience with anyone we knew. Because we realized that no-one would understand and that whatever we said would, like now, sound like we were complaining.

We sucked it up. And pushed through.

Of course we pulled through ok. Of course we’re happy now. Of course it wasn’t all bad. And of course we wouldn’t do it again tomorrow.

In the process, we learned valuable life lessons.


Upheaval comes in different shapes and sizes and for different reasons. In addition to "talk with someone about it!", try these quick tips to help you regain equilibrium, focus and control:

1. Take a Break to Put on the Brakes

When things leave you feeling like you’re running in all directions at once, like they do when you experience upheaval, the last thing you need is added responsibility. Stop piling up additional things. It’s time to start protecting yourself by saying ‘no’ when asked to shoulder more.

This is how you regain control in areas of your life where you have the choice. The difficulty is to know where you have a choice to say ‘no’.

Also, since it is easier to say ‘no’ than it is to get out of a commitment, you need to take a moment and prioritize & evaluate before saying ‘yes’ to anything.

When you’re caught in the storm of upheaval, this may feel like a luxury you don’t have, perhaps even counterproductive or a time waster. But you should take a breath before you take on additional responsibilities that you don’t need to deal with on top of everything else.

2. Vary Your Day

It’s so easy to fall into doing whatever feels comfortable when you experience upheaval. Let’s face it, you crave comfort. And there’s something soothing in repetitious action. This may enhance your sense of calm but this may give you a false impression of being more in control than you think.

Let’s differentiate between two categories of repetitive actions that we take as a way to cope with upheaval: Bad luxury vs. Better Activity.

Your strategy to cope better with upheaval would have to be slightly different for each of these categories of actions that worsen rather than help us to deal with the situation.

Dealing with Bad Luxuries

These are activities like watching TV mindlessly, snacking obsessively, or sleeping. They’re counterproductive, maybe even self-destructive. When you’re in the eye of the storm of upheaval, these are bad luxuries you cannot afford at the time.

That’s bad news, right? Well, yes. So work to reduce this as much as you can.

The good news is that the storm eventually passes and you’d have a lot of time to enjoy these activities later.

The better news is that when the upheaval is behind you, you can enjoy these activities so much more because you wouldn’t have nagging thoughts, fears and frustrations to distract you.

The best news is that if you take control like this, you get through the upheaval faster.

So with a simple act of taking control of how much time you spend on bad luxuries like this, you get three times the benefit. Cut back, don’t stop. And when you do it, do it with purpose and intention to unwind a little. That way your activities would serve a purpose as opposed to be self-destructive behavior.

Dealing with Better Activities

Even good things may not be all good either, like working through your inbox, getting exercise, or maybe even cleaning the house. These are activities that can become unhealthy if that’s all you’re doing. Especially if you do these activities as an escape mechanism, and end up procrastinating.

The goal here is to mix up your schedule. Only allow a set time for each of these activities before you need to switch to something else. Eventually you will free up time to be able to deal with what is causing you so much stress & tension.

3. Drop the Device

Speaking of obsessive, repetitive yet comforting activities, set your phone aside. You don’t need to keep checking social media or your text messages. Give yourself a break.

More often than not, the social commentary and feedback of others will only invite you to obsess about your crisis instead of offering much in the way of solutions.

Limit your online activity. In this way you will also avoid social media pitfalls.

One common pitfall is to post memes or liking social media content that would in normal, healthy circumstances not really speak to you or that would usually not interest you. When you experience upheaval, your thoughts turn a little darker and more negative. Negative content will therefore interest you more.

What’s more, is that, depending on the situation, you may begin to fixate on people that you associate with, or worse, blame for your situation, whether rightly or wrongly. In these situations, it is best to avoid posting negative commentary about those people until you have a clear mind.

If you later feel that your feelings were really justified, in 202-20 hindsight, then by all means fire off those social posts to your heart’s content. Limiting your social media activity in times of difficulty and stress will help you avoid regret, and avoid doing to others that you don’t want for yourself.

Another reason to avoid these pitfalls of social media in times of upheaval, is that whatever you post, like and share, contribute to the social media platforms’ algorithms. These algorithms are good-to-mediocre innovations in the best of times. In the worst of times, though, it produces unwanted and sometimes deeply troubling results. The platforms end up placing labels on you that don’t reflect your values and aspirations.

These algorithms are great when it results in great social feeds for you that reflect your interests and values. But when it ends up feeding your downward spiral into darker despair, it can become a very troubling echo chamber that may take you unnecessarily long to get out of and on the road to health.

4. Be Kind

Attitude is everything. If you’re feeling the disaster, start looking for ways just to be more helpful to those around you. Doing this takes your focus off your negativity and builds positivity in someone else’s day, with the side benefit of raising your mood at the same time. It’s really difficult to deal with upheaval most of the time. But when you can do it with a better mood and kindness, it could cut the period of recovery significantly shorter.

5. Take Care of You

When you become disaster-focused, it’s very easy to neglect yourself. Now more than ever, you need to eat right and get enough sleep. Taking time for yourself will help you reduce some of the physical strain an upheaval can cause. Also, feeling better physically can lower anxiety and stress, which contribute positively to how quickly you can deal with the upheaval.

6. Bonus Tip: See Your Future

We are strong. We can endure almost anything, especially when we know it is only going to be temporary. The problem though, is that when we experience upheaval, it always feels like it will never end! And this makes it extremely difficult to deal with.

Grab a mental picture of where you want to be in the future. This could be an image or an idea of what life was before the upheaval, or what life could look like after the situation is resolved. Hang onto this image.

By reminding yourself you’re going to get through this and be able to accomplish your future goals, you’re acknowledging deeply with yourself that the current situation is nothing but temporary.


Unfortunately, not every upheaval can be solved. Many circumstances are out of your control from the moment difficulty hits. On the other hand, you do still have the ability to control your actions and the steps you take forward.

By practicing these techniques, at the very least, you’re going to feel stronger and more confident about your next steps. It’s here where you’ll find peace of mind.


Suggested Further by Reading

Check out these gems available on Amazon. Note that Woodbridge Hypnosis earns from your qualifying purchases. And to earn from your qualifying purchase, I make a little effort to curate the list, find the image and text for your ease of browsing. I trust you find this in order. However, these books may be available at your local bookstore or library. And if not, find anything else that may be on topic!

Open the list to find out more about each. Click the image to buy it on Amazon.

1. Mind Over Mood, Second Edition: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think

Discover simple yet powerful steps you can take to overcome emotional distress--and feel happier, calmer, and more confident.

This life-changing book has already helped more than 1,100,000 readers use cognitive-behavioral therapy--one of today's most effective forms of psychotherapy--to conquer depression, anxiety, panic attacks, anger, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, eating disorders, substance abuse, and relationship problems.

Revised and expanded to reflect significant scientific developments of the past 20 years, the second edition contains numerous new features: expanded content on anxiety; chapters on setting personal goals and maintaining progress; happiness rating scales; gratitude journals; innovative exercises focused on mindfulness, acceptance, and forgiveness; 25 new worksheets; and much more.

Mind Over Mood will help you:*Learn proven, powerful, practical strategies to transform your life.*Follow step-by-step plans to overcome depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, and shame.*Set doable personal goals and track your progress (you can photocopy the worksheets from the book or download and print additional copies).*Practice your new skills until they become second nature. Cited as “The Most Influential Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Publication” by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and included in the UK National Health Service Bibliotherapy Program.

Winner (Second Place)--American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award, Consumer Health Category

2. The Mental Toughness Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Facing Life's Challenges, Managing Negative Emotions, and Overcoming Adversity with Courage and Poise

3. The Art Of Saying NO: How To Stand Your Ground, Reclaim Your Time And Energy, And Refuse To Be Taken For Granted (Without Feeling Guilty!)

4. Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents

5. It Didn't Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle


I am passionate for small changes like these that we can make in our lives with great positive impact. I think of small steps as MicroHabits.

And if you're yearning for transformation, check out my ebook here!

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