It’s easy to be sad—especially when you think and feel too much like I do but I like to think I’ve become better through time—in coping with stress and anxiety on a daily basis.

I’ve learned that problems abound for everyone but not everyone responds to crises in the same manner. Some cope better than others. I strive to be part of the former.

When my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, the doctor gave her three months. God gave her three months and three weeks. Those 15 weeks turned out to be most agonizing but also the most instructive and illuminating weeks of my life.

I learned not to fall apart even when I wanted to. I learned to get up in the morning even when there was nothing to look forward to. I learned to go on even when I didn’t have the strength to. I learned to put aside my emotions so I could function to the best of my ability and serve my mother in the best way possible in the last days of her life.

I finally understood that the poker face of a health professional does not necessarily mean they do not care. It can simply mean they’ve been trained to put aside their emotions so they can make sound decisions essential to the well-being of the patient in front of them.

We chose to have my mother stay home all throughout her illness. But the stress and anxiety over what to do in every possible situation that could arise on a daily basis was just too much for me to bear that I had to find the humility to seek God’s guidance. God did not fail me.

I did not abandon Plans A to Z. But now, I had the best backup plan in the world—God’s plan. Or so I thought.

My mother’s illness was a turning point in my life. I learned that when you accept what is, you are free to be. I learned that when you let go of things you cannot change, you can do more to change what you can. I learned that when you trust God’s plan, Plans A to Z become the backup plans.

How do you get out of the rut? We need to accept that grief is the price we pay for love and loss is the price we pay for life. Sadness, stress and anxiety are emotions we have to learn to live with for as long as our hearts still beat.

And while negative emotions must be processed on our own timelines, we can’t let them take up permanent residence in our hearts and minds. At some point in time, we have to let them go. We have to learn to find joy. Once more.

Whether joy comes in the form of conversations or coffee dates, yoga, gardening or music, running, biking or beach combing, watching the sunset or taking a trip, find it. Find the joy of doing something you enjoy.

Start with small goals. But find the will to take the first step. The first step is always the hardest. Remember, it gets worse before it gets better. Don’t lose hope. It’s easy to be sad and therefore, we must strive to find joy.