When my husband unexpectedly left me, to say that I was a mess would be the understatement of the century. Getting out of bed, preparing the kids lunches and then getting myself out the door each day was – quite literally – ALL that I could bear.
During those early days of my separation I did what I had to do, and not much more. I was hurting and struggled to see any form of light at the end of the tunnel. The thought of remaining positive was laughable - I honestly felt that I would never feel whole again.
That is, until the day I realised that my moods were affecting those I loved the most – my two children. I knew I had to lift my game and at least provide some semblance of stability and happiness to our lives. So, slowly but surely, I picked myself up from the ruins … and slowly but surely, I began to see that elusive light.
I would love to share with you now three simple things I did to remain positive during those difficult times – and I would be super chuffed if you would give them a whirl too. Your future mental and emotional health may just thank you for it!
HERE ARE MY TIPS FOR REMAINING POSITIVE DURING DIFFICULT TIMES:
1. Stop focusing on the worries
Stress is, unfortunately perhaps, a part of life - whatever it is that you’re going through now may even be one of the BIGGEST stressors you’ve ever had to deal with. However, no matter the source of our stress, we no doubt add to it when we decide to partake in the simple yet reasonably useless task of worrying!
Worrying takes away our peace, and the basic sense of well-being that we should be able to carry with us as a fundamental right of the wonderful creatures that we are.
Of course, it is a lot easier to be happy with our lot when things are going along swimmingly for us. Work is good, money is not an issue, everyone in our lives is being nice to us and each other. No worries. We feel content and at peace for the most part.
However when things start to fall apart - as they do as part of life's natural ebb and flow - we can sometimes lose that sense of peace and well-being. BUT, herein lies the secret to keeping our peace and not partaking in the vicious cycle of fear, doubt and worry:
Recognise that it is not the events and circumstances in and of our lives which cause us pain. It is our REACTION to these things.
Our mind is always doing its job. It is constantly going over events and situations, working out what is displeasing to us and how to fix it. Yet we have little or no control over outside circumstances. Things – seemingly bad things - will happen to us.
We can choose to resist this reality and fight against it – which more than likely won’t succeed – or we can change something a lot easier and a lot more powerful than this – ourselves. Or more specifically, our reactions.
When we are able to train our minds to remain in the present moment, to see the situation for how it currently is and make judgements and decisions based on this reality – rather than a perceived or feared reality - we will be able to let go of the fears, doubts and worries, and take control of not just our peace and sense of wellbeing, but the future course of our lives. Just imagine that.
2. Practise Gratitude
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 each 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 really well. Get a journal specifically for this purpose, and try to find things out of the ordinary to be thankful for – rather than the obvious such as 'having great kids'. A butterfly crossing your path … a nice word from your boss … a resolved argument … a good parking spot … the sun beaming down on you as you sip your morning tea…
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.
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 stressful and difficult 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). Good luck!
What do you do to keep your head up during crappy times? Please share in the comments!
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