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How Do You Handle Rough Times?

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We’ve all had a really bad day…heck, weeks or months can stink too.  It could be anything – money problems, relationship problems, illness, etc.  How to you handle rough times?  Specifically, how do you spend your time?


Spending time on others while the rough times pass can be amazingly cathartic.  When I first graduated from college, I immediately got married, moved to a new apartment soon after, and all of our college friends moved on with their lives while we did the same.  My husband was my best friend, but spending all of our time together was driving us both a little nutty.

I decided to stop feeling lonely and started volunteering at the Houston SPCA.  I spent 3-4 evenings a week walking dogs and helping them get adopted.  It was way easier to put my own life into perspective while I was cuddling with the big dogs and picking up their poop.

Even after we moved away a year later, I kept up the charity work through fostering Pugs, that was followed by Meals on Wheels, and that has been followed by Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Volunteering your time can make a world of difference for you and the ones you help.

Hobbies and Play

Maybe you can keep your mind off of the rough times by spending your time doing other stuff.  I have friends that find hobbies to throw themselves into when things aren’t great.  You can consider anything – knitting, reading, video games, blogging, potlucks, movie nights, etc.  I’d suggest budgeting your fun money for whatever you choose so you don’t cause yourself any financial problems.  The activity itself should be something you enjoy that can keep you busy.

If the rough times can be worked through, then a hobby may allow you to focus better to achieve whatever it is you need to do.  If the rough times can only be healed with time, then the hobbies can help you pass that time quicker.


You may be someone that can throw themselves into work.  In some ways, the extra time could help you succeed.  It can be used like a hobby to help you spend time concentrating on something else.  I would just warn you not to use work or anything as an avoidance method for too long.  If you just need some time, great.  But if you need to be handling an issue, avoidance won’t help.

My Combo

When I’m handling too much or am just waiting out a crappy period of life, I keep up with my commitments as necessary but throw more time into charity and hobbies/play.  Helping others makes me feel better quickly and friends help me put things into perspective.  I use reading, tv, and movies to help me feel in free time where I just need my brain to turn off a little.  That combo seems to work for me.

What works for you?

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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6 thoughts on “How Do You Handle Rough Times?

  1. There are two things that I find of help.

    Firstly, I must admit that I tend to throw myself head-first into more work. Keeping busy in this way helps to block out any issues so I’m happy to do some extra hours etc as needed. In essence I’m the *opposite* of most people I work with who take time off whenever there’s an “issue”.

    Secondly, though, I like to take long, relaxed walks in the countryside. I do these by myself. Somehow being out there in nature helps to put things in perspective, and clear my head.

    I often take a notebook and pen because this is when I have my best ideas – whether they’re inspirational ideas for the future to keep me going or possible solutions to whatever issue I’m facing currently.

  2. I definitely need a better way…. I usually just procrastinate. But every time I do something nice for someone else I do feel quite better. I’ll have to work that into the rotation next time I hit a rough patch.

    Having a “dance party” with my kids is also pretty uplifting. A little chrome cast and pandora goes a long way.

  3. I definitely do a combination of all the things you mentioned. The only thing I do that is NOT on your list is wallowing in self-pity for a while. Yeah, a total waste, but I am trying to do that less and less.

  4. Hobbies and play are usually what I do, if I can. Any rough day at work is made better by watching/playing sports, reading a book, or hanging out with my wife!! It seems like those types of things are the best stress reliever.

    If the stress is caused by needing to do more work, then I will usually do more work… for example, I’d rather stay an hour later at my job and go home with less stress, than take off early knowing that I will be stressed out all night about what needs to be done!

  5. @Richard, I like taking walks around the nearby lake that has ducks when I am really frustrated. Their quacking makes me smile.

    @a terrible husband, a dance break is always a good idea!

    @Sher, oh, I forgot to mention that step. I do that one too. I’m also trying to work on that.

    @Jon, good point. I also try to finish work before logging off for the day or it nags me…

    @Martin, totally!

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