5 Strategies to Survive a Life Storm

By: Deeba Salim Irfan

Everyone faces a life storm at some point in time! You may have survived one or heard a friend share with you. Some are serious storms like losing a job, losing someone close and others are trivial yet may weigh you down. Whatever the case may be, be patient and keep an eye on ‘expiry date for your blues.’ You can lie low. Feel sad. Cry if you must, wear black, celebrate the blues and hang tough! Tomorrow the smile will erupt on your lips. Sun will shine and you will laugh again till your stomach hurts. You just need to wait!

I have outlined below 5 coping strategies that I find very effective:

Stay Calm – No matter how serious the issue! Count till 10. Breathe. And repeat till 10 and breathe. And repeat. This will help you catch your breath and comfort you.

Postpone – Postpone the thought of whatever the issue is to a later date! A time when you get healed and are ready to analyze it. Trust me, that time will come!

Stay Clear – This one is logical. Someone once told me, imagine you are swimming in your sorrows and you reach a waterfall. If you come out before the fall, you will be able to control yourself. However, if you let yourself fall, you will not be able to control yourself. If you do not control your depressing thoughts before the fall, you will be in that waterfall stage of depression when it becomes increasingly difficult to control depression. To counter try to stop your thoughts before you reach the waterfall (of your thoughts). For example, listen to upbeat songs or watch comedy!

Colors – What we wear or surround ourselves with impact our mood. If you are going through a storm, hide in the blanket and cry till your tears dry. Then pull yourself, wear bright colors, dress up and visit your optimistic, positive friends.

Keep Busy – The trick is to trap your mind. Keep it occupied and let it not sense the loss!

What I describe above, practice and preach, I call it my ‘insulating technique.’

When you have healed, taper the dose and allow your ‘painful’ thoughts to seep into your mind and toy with them! This may take anywhere from one week to six months depending on the storm / loss and upon your immunity, as each person has a different bouncing back ability!

Share if you find the above helpful.


-About the Author:

Deeba Salim Irfan is an Advertising professional, and an Author based in Dubai. Her novel – URMA is with a backdrop of Iranain revolution is based on surviving personal losses. Her poetry book – CHARCOAL BLUSH, has vivid and uplifting poetry full of spiritual wisdom (both available on Amazon). Her next novel is ‘Will Time Find Us.’ Deeba blogs on relationships and helps writers build their ‘Author Brand’. She is also the founder of (soon to be launched) portal TheWriteScene.com.

You can contact her on – Deebairfan@me.com


My Book Launch – A mom’s perspective

The frenzy started a week before the launch when the Chief Guest confirmed availability. The realisation struck me that my book launch was just a week away. And there was still a lot to do.


My son came to me, “Mom, can we please have a match of chess?” I said, “please, can it wait till after the launch?” My 5 year old came and asked me sweetly, “mom can you please make my favourite sweet?” I hugged her but just had to say, “babe, can it wait for a week, you know mom is busy for the launch, right?” and she complied.


It was all about the launch. The moment was building up. A week to go. ‘To do’ list was never ending. Invites done, Nourooz table done, speech prepared, days just flew…  Backdrop was yet to be done. A night before, I realised, we had not finalised a photographer. The day finally arrived and I had no MC. A friend came to the rescue….last minute changes….. adrenaline rush…  my mind went blank. Guests arrived, and I just floated… friends, more friends, relatives, guests, press and VIPs all came almost simultaneously. I couldn’t keep control of people I greeted. I got into an autopilot mode. Our brains are programmed to operate in such a mode in an event of an emergency. I experienced it. The next moment, I found myself sitting with the chief guest discussing Iran and blink, I was on stage. It all happened in super fast forward motion. And within a flash, it was all over.  Speeches over. Book unveiled. Friends flocked for autographed copies. TV interviews. And then, just as the ballroom had filled with people it got empty again…. and it hit me, what rises to the brim depletes again…. and with that awareness, my BP plummeted…. but with a relief, it was all over and all went off well.


Now I needed myself back, back from that autopilot mode. But couldn’t yet. I couldn’t afford to. Not yet. As the  launch got over, my 5 year old came up to me and asked, “mama is your launch now over?”  I said, “yes baby.” She smiled and said, “so now can you make my favourite sweet for me?” I couldn’t help my tears. I knew everyone around me had taken a toll at my hands. I put an end to it when the event gets over. But till then, nothing can defocus me. Obsession, perfection, focus, you can call it whatever you want. But as the event or task at hand comes closer, my focus gets on the target, and surroundings get blurred. A task may be as minor as completing a self imposed deadline of 500 words, yet, it’s a commitment. So, at that time, I hugged her tight and told her. “Yes babe. I can!” and her eyes widened, and a bright smile sparkled her naughty eyes and spread from one corner of her face to another brightening me too and squeezing all my exhaustion away. That’s my energiser smile. My destress hug and a destress kiss from my 5 yr old.


So the next two days, I belonged only to my kids. No meetings, no interviews, just nothing. A well deserved time together. The much awaited chess matches between me and my son and girls cheering me up. A much requested sweet for my baby. A quite dinner – just me and my kids. Aah that drained me and I had to head back to my MacBook to write. So having spent time together, I have earned two hours of writing time. And a day to lock myself off from the world. To find my words again. To focus on my next book.



A step
at a time
I tread.
Dive deep 
then arise
to absorb my paradise!

My soul alive,
am I pleasantly disguised,
as I live my paradise?

I imbibe the nuzzle
akin a kiss
a brush against my skin
of this warm
summer wind!
A deep breath
of praise
as serenity exhaled!
For yet another
savored in my paradise!

Building Characters

For a while, I have been wondering how to bring my characters to life. I want them to react the way each one of us does. Make them more believable, livable. Tonight is strange. I woke up about an hour back, when it was still 3 am and kept thinking of certain issues at hand. Just can’t go back to sleep. Whether it is the issue at hand or the double doze of antibiotics I am on, difficult to identify.
What’s interesting is the learning from the past hour, when I let my mind toy with various thoughts that crossed my mind. I am sure, this learning can be quite natural to a few of you, or maybe, well learnt as a part of some writing course, by few others out there, but for me, it was a lightening.
I realised that the characters behave out of their own experience. We need to create that experence around them for them to behave the way we want them to. If I want my character to take everything casually, I need to have his/her childhood experience or maybe some close people around them that would condition their thinking in that direction.
It is imperetive that we have a background that is a perfect match to our charater’s reactions. I cannot have a character who is happy-go-lucky when I am showing that the entire childhood of my charater was spent in turmoil and amidst violent parents.
These character traits are obvious, for some, but then, once we learn from our own experience, we know how valid they are. If I have a character who is timid, I need to have a reason for her to be that way.
Also, some of this backround can be withheld and revealed as the story unfolds, at a point where the antagonist realises the motive of the protagonist, or at a self-actualizing state.
It’s amazing, how sometimes, we get ideas at the most unexpected times of the day. I had to get up and write this and now I am off to bed again….

Such is Life…(a few moments with my mom!)

I returned day before from my monthly visit to my home town, New Delhi. I have been going for a week every month since September, 2013, when my mom had that fateful Meningitis attack.

It has been an uphill task ever since. With setbacks and achievements, the road has been exhausting for her! However, this time, I saw a marked improvement in her state.

I realise the value of small things that we take for granted. Appearance of emotions on her face, her tears – for the first time in six months, reflects that she is healing. The voice does not sound automated, distant, mechanical and cold anymore, it is that soft and warm voice, my mom’s voice. She lifted herself from her bed, albeit with great effort, but she did! Bravo… a feeling of triumph over what would be inconspicuous for most of us! In past six months, I have come to realise that these are enormous achievments… I have learnt to see life a bit more intently, learnt to appreciate it all a bit more…

Can’t thank God enough for these tender moments with my mom, these small, yet, great achievements and milestones… her baby steps towards recovery…

There was a day when my mom had tears of joy, when I took my first step… and today, I had tears of joy as my mom took her first steps, unassisted, after six long months…

Miracles happen, many have happened since September, wait for a few more… for her complete recovery!!


Bright shades of sunshine and the dull endings of the day, a toll on my own mood. I wondered what the hues meant. Bright and sunny or dull and rainy? Was my life impacted with this? Of course it was, it is!

The reason of my smile is the sun and the dark clouds bring me tears! Well, I sat and thought about the whys!

But at the end I realised, there is no point fighting it, I should just try and use this to my advantage!  And now, every time I feel blue, I reach for something bright and pink!

I may not be perfect, I may end up feeling low, I may not always look up at the bright side of the things, as often as I would want to, I am only human!

However, I feel reassured with my pink lipstick, tucked away in my bag… I carry the brightness with me! It feels as if I carry my sunshine with me… even when the tears approach, I reach for my lipstick, to smear back my smile…. to drive the blues away!

Brightness, only a lipstick away….