• Denise Cartagena

How to Start Picking Yourself Back Up in Hard Times

A question that has come to me lately is: when you were still feeling down about quarantine and emotional about losing your job, how did you pick yourself back up? There is no right or wrong answer here, but for me, it all started with my self-awareness of my coping skills. I realized that what I was doing (laying around watching shows all day, drinking, smoking, not exercising) was not healthy and not sustainable. I didn’t (and still don’t) know how much longer these new circumstance would last, so I had to ask myself:

“If this is what life is now, is what I’m doing in line with what I want for myself in the future?” It wasn’t.

So I started prioritizing my physical health first. My belief is that there is no life to pursue if you aren’t physically well enough to pursue it. So, I limited my substance use and focused on completing one yoga class (online, unfortunately) per day. That small achievement gave me the mental space to look further.

I wanted to know how to better position myself financially so that I could manage my situation and prepare for the future. The most important thing I’ve taken from this experience is that emergencies just happen, and they don’t care whether or not you were prepared. So I started reading books on how to manage money. Then I regained curiosity about the things I’m passionate about: personal growth, people, relationships, positivity. This is what led me back to coaching. Now I want to focus on helping others that need a hand.

Of course, some days are better than others, and sometimes doubt comes creeping back in. But no matter how much I worry and stress about the unknown, my situation will not return to the way it was before the pandemic. No matter how much I negatively react to people not wearing masks or people agitated while driving, things will remain the same - out of my control. Sometimes it’s hard to remember, but each of us is only in control of ourselves. So why not, make the most of what we can do?

Tuning in and listening to what you need right now is the first step of picking yourself back up.

If you’re struggling to get back up on your feet, know that you are not alone. You are brave for acknowledging that you want more and trying to learn what you can do about it. Here are two exercises to help you tune in to what you need - one personal development, one positivity:


Remember that you are not your emotions! The next time you’re feeling anger start to bubble up from your chest because of someone’s reckless driving skills, or feeling stress start to weigh down on you when you’re thinking of what "needs" to be done, try taking a step back from your emotions. Talk to yourself (or to those around you!) about what you’re observing.

Example: Anger

“I’m angry.”You are fused to your emotion; you are your emotion.

“I’m noticing that I’m feeling angry.”You are aware that your emotion is an emotion, not you.

“I’m noticing my awareness of the feeling of anger.”You are aware of your awareness of the situation and diffused from your emotion; you are not your emotion.

This exercise allows you to separate from your emotions and look at the situation more objectively. Then you can ask yourself “Why am I feeling this way?” to further your awareness of where you are. Acknowledge and honor your emotions for serving the purpose of signaling that something is going on. DO NOT PUSH THEM BACK DOWN! Use your awareness to understand what you need right now. Maybe what you need is a few more days in bed, maybe you’re ready to move on.


What are you grateful for? Shed some light on what is going right. Every day before going to sleep at night, reflect on your day and think of three things in which you are grateful and why you are grateful for them.

  1. I am grateful for ____________ because _________________________________________________.

  2. I am grateful for ____________ because _________________________________________________.

  3. I am grateful for ____________ because _________________________________________________.

Write your responses in a journal or share them with your partner before bed. Complete this exercise for at least one week. Before you know it, you will recognize these small things throughout your days as they happen and will be living in gratitude, rather than having to recall them for your report at night. Studies show that this exercise (the full week) “increases happiness and decreases symptoms of depression” (Peterson, 2006). The longer you use this exercise, the longer you will receive the benefits.

I hope these exercises lead you to the awareness you need in this moment. Please remember that you are not your emotions, but if you are emotional, it’s okay. There is nothing shameful about feeling what you feel. Also, know that you are not alone. Not all days are the best, but not all bad days have to be the worst. If you feel you are ready to move forward, download my free worksheet on setting goals through my website to start formulating a plan of action. As always, if you need any support, please feel free to get in touch. You don’t have to carry this load on your own.

Happy Growing & Best Wishes,



Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. Oxford University Press, Inc.