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12 Survival Tips for When You Feel Like You're Drowning

12 Survival Tips for When You Feel Like You're Drowning

I’ve spent more time in the last eighteen months fighting to stay above water in a storm-tossed ocean than I have standing on solid ground. 

Some days show up rockier than others. There are mornings I see the waves coming the second I open my eyes and then there are times I’m taken completely by surprise. Oddly, my rough-water days aren’t always the ones that come with crisis or high drama. 

Here’s my theory. When I get a break and take a second to breathe, the adrenaline rush keeping me in the fight dips and I go under. 

I hate those days because they take me off guard. They steal my momentum. I’ve found it’s often easier to maintain than fight my way back to the surface after I’ve already started sinking.

You don’t have to be drowning in an ocean to resonate with what I’m saying. We all live those days. 

SEE ALSO: 3 Ways to Pursue God While You Wander in the Wilderness


Maybe you’ve lost your footing in a lake. Or found yourself paddling in a pond. On the surface, your life might not look as bad as everyone else’s. But deep inside, your circumstances feel pretty weighty. 

When you think about it, a growing pile of stones settling on your chest one at a time can do just as much damage as being crushed by a boulder. 

So wherever you’re at, when you wake to one of those days, here are some practical things that help me make it through until tomorrow. Maybe some will work for you.

SEE ALSO: Why is it Weird to be Honest about Pain?

Twelve Tips When You’re Drowning: 

1. Give your day to God. Ground yourself before you even get out of bed.

2. Stretch. Take a slow, deep breath. Then five more. Breathing is a natural relaxer.

3. Be kind to your body. How you feel physically affects your state of mind. Eat something healthy that gives you energy. Drink something that calms you. My favorite is mint tea.

SEE ALSO: How to Survive the Storm When Your Faith is Shaken

4. Slow down. Take a decadent time-out for yourself. I like to take a hot bath—even in the middle of the day. 

5. Distract yourself with someone else. While your gut tells you to hide, buddy up on your bad days. Choose someone who soothes, not stresses you.

6. Solve your easiest problem. Any accomplishment, baby-size or not, allows you to take a step forward. And progress feels good. 

7. Give up control of your biggest issue. Understand you never really had control of it to begin with. It’s amazing what God will do when we completely let go. 

8. Center your focus outward. When you least feel like giving of yourself, that’s the best time to reach out. Do one nice thing for someone you love, or better yet, a stranger.

9. Put your issues in perspective. Your situation may be bad. But things could always be worse. Even while I’m bleeding on the inside watching my son battle cancer, he’s here for me to hug every day. 

10. Dwell on a time God’s gotten you through a similarly heavy situation instead of hanging onto the hopelessness of your current condition. Nothing lasts forever. 

11. Ask God for a blessing. Then open your heart so you don’t miss what he gives. Because he does want to bless us. He loves us. 

12. Pick a verse that touches you and hold it close. Here’s what I chose for today. 

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).

I’m no stranger to crisis, trauma, fear, suffering, anxiety, or depression. But here’s what I know. Each time I’ve been stranded in that endless ocean, I’ve made it to the other side. 

I haven’t always seen Jesus paddling next to me, felt his hand holding me up, or heard him whispering encouraging words, but I’ve looked back on every one of those hard times and understood he’d been there all along. 

Are you drowning today? 

Don’t give up. Hold on. Keep swimming. You will make it to the other side. Life won’t always look the way it does today. One day you’ll wake up and realize it’s become much easier to breathe.

Lori Freeland is a freelance author from Dallas, Texas with a passion to share her experiences in hopes of connecting with other women tackling the same issues. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a full-time homeschool mom. You can find Lori at lafreeland.com.

Publication date: June 4, 2015