Life is full of ups and downs for all of us. The list is endless: redundancy, grief or loss, money worries, relationship breakdowns or health concerns to name but a few.
Rest assured, we are all the same and have the same thoughts and feelings at times like this, but what can we put in our tool kit to help us out and make that path a little less bumpy? Here are my tips and I’d love to hear yours!
Mindfulness seems to have become a bit of buzz word in recent years, but do you actually know what it is and how it can help as a coping mechanism for tough times?
Mindfulness is a type of mental exercise where you focus on bringing your awareness to what you’re feeling, mentally and physically, in that very moment. The challenge is simply to be aware of your feelings without judgement or trying to figure out why you’re feeling a particular way. It may sounds hard because it is; it’s called practise for a reason! With time and patience it can become an extremely useful tool.
Other exercises people incorporate into their mindfulness practice include breathing exercises, concentrating on the details around them (which is why nature can be such a restorative place to practise mindfulness), and doing walking meditations.
Spend Time Outdoors
For me, being outdoors, taking a long walk, and connecting with nature and a peaceful environment clears my head and relaxes me. The mindfulness element helps me notice and catch myself getting caught up in any thoughts or worries and brings me back to the present moment.
Overthinking something you are going through or dealing with can feel like going down rabbit hole, right? It’s hard to get out of and can lead to further anxious thoughts and perhaps painful emotions. Be mindful that some of these thoughts and assumptions may not even be true. it’s just your amazing brain trying to figure something out and keep you safe.
We evolved and were designed with the flight or fight instinct. You see a tiger and, naturally, your heart races. Stress hormones race through your body preparing you to run and escape. The problem is your mind, our prehistoric brain, doesn’t understand the difference between a real situation and a threatening or worrying thought and gives us the same stress response, triggering those stress hormones and uncomfortable feelings.
Imagine the scene: “I’ve got a job interview tomorrow; it’s all going to go wrong; I won’t get the job…” Classic catastrophising and you feel nervous. It might actually go really well and you’ll be offered the job on the spot.
It’s not that we try to avoid these thoughts and feelings as they are part of the human condition and, let me assure you, they are perfectly normal. With practice, however, you will find mindfulness allows you to simply observe your thoughts and associated emotions, see them for what they are, and allow them to pass so you can get on with your day. You may even find such a thing helps you from ruminating over a situation or experience all day long.
Exercise is another stress buster for me. A good run after a hard day at work makes me feel great. Now, that’s not to say I always feel like going. But, afterword, the feel good hormones flood in and are a great reward, along with knowing I’ve done something good for myself.
Reach Out to Friends and Family
Reaching out to friends and family you can trust and just be yourself with is priceless. Having the ability to pour your heart out or discuss something without judgement is a great for your wellbeing. That said, there are also many charities and employee assistance programmes available if you need someone to listen without judgement. Having a totally impartial person there to just listen and perhaps signpost you for further advice is most certainly a positive step toward self care.
Listen when I say you’re amazing and you deserve to be happy. If you don’t like your job, change it if you can. If you’re unhappy in your friendships, marriage or relationships and you’ve tried your best try to fix them, consider moving on. You deserve peace. Quit comparing yourself to other people. Do what makes you happy. Follow your passion because life is way too short to be unhappy.
Keep looking for the blue sky because it’s always there, despite the clouds you may be temporarily seeing. And never ever be embarrassed if you struggle. Struggling is part of being human and we all go through things. Keep pushing on and remember what an incredible person you are. You’ve totally got this!
I hope this helps.