By Amit Janco, Researcher, Author & Editor
When you’re accustomed to being on the go, engaging with others, rushing around, you may feel too harried to catch your breath, let alone consider your purpose. But now, you’ve been given a mandatory time out. You’re asked to stop, slow down, sit still. To look around. To adapt, maybe to change course. You might even find yourself in an uncomfortable situation; spending more time than ‘normal’ with others and with yourself – neither of which is always straightforward, easy, or safe.
What helps you get through tough times?
Firstly, remember that you are not the difficult things or problems that you experience. Write a letter to your fear or anxiety as if it were someone you could imagine in front of you; explain what impact it’s having on your life, and how you would like to be freed from its control over your thoughts.
Our inner strengths are invisible; they’re hardwired into our nervous system. When those strengths seem beyond reach, it helps to have a toolkit for turbulent times. One size does not fit all, so pick what suits you best on a given day.
- Stay away from overwhelm: focus on the little steps, one day at a time.
- Release painful thoughts and feelings, and replace them with self-compassion, self-worth, joy, and inner peace.
- Reschedule your worries. Set yourself a timer, once a day or week. Then decide to set those aside for the rest of the time so you can be productive and creative. Sometimes, when you give those problems the time and air to breathe, they re-emerge in a different guise. You may have learned something in the interim that will help you consider the problem in a new light when you revisit it later on.
- Shift expectations and priorities.
- Stick post-it notes – full of positive affirmations – in your bedroom and bathroom.
- Designate a brave space, where you can: read a book, meditate, write in your journal, make art, dream.
- One of humanity’s most potent tools is imagination. How will you use yours? Flex that muscle to anticipate and plan for your life in the future. Imagine what your future might look like; conjure up possible scenarios that give you hope, then write them down for yourself, or email them to a friend.
- Spend a day trying out something new – learn a few phrases in a new language; try getting into a headstand (it’s good for your immune system); write down a story about your life or best friend.
- Consider a 24-hour break from social media.
- Practice compassion and kindness. Be gentle with yourself.
Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychotherapist, penned a book called Man’s Search for Meaning. Writing from personal experience, Frankl explained that, even under the worst conditions, human beings still have a choice: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Frankl was able to excavate his inner life for guidance and meaning. His ability to develop resilience during one of the world’s worst human tragedies, is reflected in his words.
- Do good deeds, or create works of value;
- Seek out positive experiences, like love or the beauty of nature;
- Find humor wherever you can, and experience joy;
- Gather with songs, poems and other distractions;
- Remember loved ones;
- Connect to a spiritual source.