If years had theme tunes, 2020's could be Ronan Keating's "Life is a rollercoaster" and to be honest as much as I like rollercoasters, stop the ride now, I want to get off!
You could argue that life is always a rollercoaster as you never really know what's going to happen, which is true, but in a normal year we're all on our rollercoasters at different times. Some of us would be flying high when others may be in a dip. Where as this year we're all, to some extent, on the same rollercoaster. I don't think I've ever experienced so many different emotions in such a short space of time before, whilst also confined with others and trying to cope with their similar waves of emotions.
So how can you manage all those feelings and emotions so you don't lose the plot? How can you help yourself to be ok when you're not feeling ok?
First - Step back and breathe
And know, it's ok to not be ok. All those feelings you're feeling, that's completely normal. Don't ignore them, accept them knowing the feelings will pass. They always do. Take a second to think about a time when you felt this way before and remember how that passed and you went on to have great days, even during 2020. Whatever you are going through, you will get through this.
Take a step back. Take a breath. You've got this.
Next ask yourself "What do I really need right now?"
Learning to tune into yourself and understand what you need in the moment is key. It's also one way to stop automatic behaviours, like eating the contents of the fridge when actually what you needed was a hug and for someone to listen. Notice how you feel after you've got what you thought you needed. Was it what you wanted, or was it something else?
Create a daily gratitude practice
Gratitude is the antidote to stress. Try it now.....think about one of two things that you're grateful for, big or small. How do you feel? A little bit better right?
Take one day at a time
How many times in the past have you spent days, weeks or even months or years worrying about something that may happen, that never does. All that time and energy spent, all that stress and worry and it never happened. And if it did happen, was it as bad as you thought? Did you survive? In hindsight, would it have been better to just deal with it if it happened?
There are only two days in the year when nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live ~ Dalai Lama
Focus on what you can control
Make a list of what you can control and what you can't control. Stressing about what you can't control will get you nowhere (apart from further down the stress path). Let go of what you can't control and focus your time and energy on what you can control.
Treat yourself like a best friend
If you spoke to your friends the way you normally speak to yourself, do you think they'd still be your friend? And so why is it ok for you to talk to yourself that way? How does that negative self talk make you feel and what does it lead to? Instead, start to talk to yourself as if you would a friend. Show compassion to yourself and notice what happens.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
We all need help at times. It doesn't mean you're weak, it's a sign of strength. When we need help, we seem to believe that everyone else knows exactly what they're doing and we're the only one struggling. We may feel embarrassed that we need help. But what happens if you don't ask for help and stay stuck? What positives could happen if you ask for help? If a friend needed help, would you want them to ask you for help? What makes you think your friends don't feel the same?
Know this time will pass and when it does, take time to notice the positives
As I mentioned in the first point, these feelings always pass. Always. Just recognising that can help. Using some of the strategies here can help them to pass quicker. Humans have an inbuilt negativity bias that dates back to primal times when we needed it to keep us safe from that tiger. We don't have to worry about tigers anymore and so the negativity bias finds other things for us to worry about, that can create more times of us not being ok. Research now shows that we can rewire our brain to look for the positive first instead of the negative and doing this builds resilience and means that the next time we're not feeling ok, it will be easier and quicker to get through. Think about it for a second. Think about the last time something good happened. Did you take the time to really appreciate it or did you simply smile and get on with your day? By taking the time to notice positive things and experiences, really noticing what makes them so great and allowing ourselves the time to appreciate them, helps to start to rewire our brain.
With all of these strategies, it's also super important to notice how you feel when you try them. If something makes you feel better, notice it. That makes it more likely you'll instinctively do it again in the future and help to reduce your not ok time in the future.
Who knows what the rest of this year and 2021 will bring, but by using these strategies, you can build your resilience and keep your not ok time to a minimum. The truth is, we never know what's going to happen and actually when you think about it, life would be pretty boring if we did. That said, here's hoping for a smidge more predictability in 2021!
If you are keen to build your resilience to help you reach a goal, get healthier or just to get more out of life, get in touch. I'd love to help you on your journey :)
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Published 31 August 2020