The last two weeks have been trying for me, to say the very least. It was a fortnight in which it seemed the universe was doing its utmost to make my life a living hell. As well as trying my very best to be a support to two family members who were (and still are, to an extent) going through their own personal torments, I have had my personal (unrelated) workload increase dramatically.
Normally, I consider myself to be a reasonably cruisy sort of person. I’m pretty good at balancing the different facets of my life such as work, family, health and fun-time. Most days I remember to breathe, eat and sleep along with whatever else is generally required of me as a mother, partner, employee, friend, etcetera etcetera.
Yet despite my very best efforts I will admit to struggling these past couple of weeks. Quite hard some days. As a result my house looks like crap (no time to deal with it), I’ve been eating food that is mainly crap (again, no time to deal) and my mindset has been - dare I say – a wee bit CRAP.
I’m now slowly yet very surely coming out of the fog and to help both myself AND any of you lovely people who may also be experiencing tough times, I thought it would be useful to remember (or perhaps learn) some quick yet highly effective mindset adjustments to help in such times. These tactics have helped me in the past and I have zero doubt that they will also help YOU.
(By the way, I don’t really believe that the universe was conspiring against me. I believe that I firmly got myself in this crappy place due to a temporary yet hefty lack of self-care!)
MY 3 SIMPLE MINDSET ADJUSTMENTS TO SEE YOU THROUGH CRAP TIMES:
1. Know that it's actually NOT POSSIBLE that you'll feel this way forever
I actually developed (or somehow became aware of) this hack as an adolescent. I have always been somewhat of a worrier, and this unfortunate habit was never worse than in my adolescent years. As a young person I would worry about everything – school, my friends, my family… and most of all my future. There was literally always something to worry about.
One day as I was worrying about a ‘thing’ that could potentially go wrong, it struck me that just the week before – yes the week before – I had been stressing and worrying over a similar ‘thing’. And that thing hadn’t gone wrong. Or maybe it had – either way it was dealt with at the time and was now a thing of the past.
And herein, I believe, lays one of the greatest secrets to life. EVERYTHING – every situation, every person, every thought, every feeling, every thing – is temporary. Nothing lasts forever. Good or bad. We tend to get so caught up with wanting certain things to remain, and certain things to go, that we forget this fundamental truth. Everything goes eventually, and we shouldn’t be afraid of this.
TRY THIS: think about where you were, who you were with, what you were thinking about and what you were worrying about this time three years ago. Can you remember much of that time? You may remember fragments, or you may remember the larger picture, but chances are you’ve forgotten the minute details of what was happening – of every worry that was floating through your mind. Or, perhaps you do remember, but are now able to acknowledge that you’re no longer thinking and worrying about the same set of things. Either way, you will be able to see the impermanence of it all.
2. Practise GRATITUDE
Next, look for things to be grateful for – even if you struggle to find ANYTHING – the act of looking in itself will take your mind off your worries and shift your energy in that moment. Do this in the morning as you wake, and as you fall asleep at night. Suspend your worries for just a moment AND DO THIS.
If you can find five things each day to be thankful for, you are doing wonderfully well. Get a notebook specifically for this purpose, and try to find things out of the ordinary to be thankful for – rather than the obvious such as 'having a great family'.
A few nights ago I was grateful that I had my house and car completely to myself. I took myself on a twenty kilometre drive to clear my head, and bought tea and cake at a convenience store I passed on the way. This may sound simple and/or silly - but MAN was I grateful for the opportunity to do it. And yes, I recorded it in my diary.
Gratitude is a beautiful thing in that it is one way of effortlessly bringing our life back into balance - in finding things to be thankful for, we are able to let go of some of our suffering. It helps us find acceptance of our present situation and allows us to see the good in all of life's little (or big) twists and turns. And don’t forget the importance of positive self-talk.
3. Learn to be Mindful
Like a lot of people, I’m not good at setting aside time for meditation. The good news is, we actually don’t need a big chunk of time to reap the benefits that come from stilling our minds. Even five minutes here and there, particularly during crap times, will give us some relief from the clutter and noise and chaos within our heads.
Try the below exercise (I like to do it just after climbing into bed, as well as at semi-regular intervals through the day, particularly after finishing one task and before moving on to the next). With regular practise, you should find yourself feeling LESS frazzled and MORE focussed – ideal during times of stress, upheaval and change. No cushions, music or mantras required.
Sit or lay quietly in a relaxed and comfortable position, with eyes closed and muscles relaxed. Start breathing through your nose. Remain focussed on your breathing, not paying heed to the thoughts as they pass through your mind. You can’t stop the thoughts, so just leave them be. Acknowledge that they are there, then picture them leaving. Remaining focussed on your breathing will help greatly with this.
Stay in this state for 5-10 minutes (longer if possible). Once you are ready to move on, do so slowly. Open your eyes and gradually become aware of your surroundings, then slowly rise. You should find yourself feeling refreshed, revitalised and ready to tackle the next duty (or drama).
How do you get through the crap times? Can you offer any further mindset adjustments? I’d love to hear them – please share in the comments.
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