photo by Naomi August @ Unsplash
There are times in life when we face pretty hard challenges. Something knocks you down and you are completely blindsided. You are stuck in one place or you keep walking in a vicious circle. In such a moment, it is extremely hard to maintain a positive attitude. During times like this, I tend to forget all I know about getting out of such labyrinths. Therefore, I have created a manual with some handy tips which I am happy to share. Here are 10 things which work for me during turbulent times.
1. IT IS THE WAY IT IS
Acceptance of the situations here and now. So many times, I‘ve caught myself drowning in my emotions, being perplexed somebody really did this or that, hoping they would realize, apologize, take it back, etc. Whether that happens or not, what is important for me in that very moment is to accept things the way they are now. What can help to reach the acceptance point is not to judge. What a relief, when you switch off your inner adviser, critic, and judge. It is the way it is. Fullstop.
2. NOT YOU, ME
Concentrate on yourself and your feelings. For a moment, try not to focus on what others say, what you think is going on with the other person. Your feelings are really important now. How do you feel? What is behind these feelings? Why this particular situation threw you out of balance so much?
3. TIME OUT
The right to pause the game is not reserved only for team sports. In a challenging or difficult situation, you also have a right to step aside, breathe, look at things from a different perspective, and take time to react. This has proven especially useful for me. If I’m overwhelmed by strong emotions, I struggle to find the right words, defend myself, or I react from a place of the wounded one. When I give myself time to digest it and calm down, I usually come to see a much wider picture. It helps me to get centered and respond from a greater measure of detachment, peace, and inner strength.
4. LET THE STEAM OUT!
If you’re boiling, let the steam out. Forget rubbish like “good girls don’t get angry“ or “boys don’t cry“. No emotion is bad. It’s just necessary to find a way of its expression which doesn’t hurt anybody, including you. So, get it out! It’s not a coincidence that the word disease contains ease. Diseases are showing us that something in our experiencing needs to be eased up, healed. One can release built-up emotions through dance, shaking, singing, screaming, or even cleaning the house.
5. MOVEMENT, BREATH, SOUND
Three basic principles of shifting energy. Even modern medicine and psychotherapy use them quite commonly these days. Thom Hartmann in his book Walking the Blues Away looks at walking as a way of overcoming difficult life experiences, traumas. A specific type of walking and running stimulates rhythmically the right and left hemisphere, thus speed up healing mechanisms of our soul. This method is frequently used even with war veterans and patients dealing with serious mental health issues. Apparently, dog owners who walk their four-legged friends daily suffer less from mental health issues. Especially people living in cities should take a short walk in the fresh air every day as a part of mental hygiene and prevention.
6. KEEP CENTERED
When you wake up, keep your eyes closed. Just breathe and observe the natural rhythm of your breath for a moment. Bring your awareness to your center. Then from this place silently tell yourself: “I am safe. I am taken care of.“ Let this feeling fill up your whole body. Whatever your situation is, allow yourself to feel gratitude for what you have. Every day, I thank for my beautiful healthy body, love, and support from my friends and family, living at a beautiful place near the countryside, my doggie, food, and water… The worse I feel, the more things to be grateful for I look for. I used to take these things for granted. Now, I realize I belong to small friction of people with these privileges on this planet. And that‘s quite something! Gratitude nicely raises up our vibrations. It’s like a nourishing sap, helping us to find back joy and strength.
7. TINY GOALS
If you are going through a particularly rough patch, it‘s necessary to give yourself some slack. Praise yourself for every little achievement. A small step, acknowledgment, another step… Like when a baby is learning to walk. For example, I set myself a goal to wash the dishes and do grocery shopping. When one is recovering from a loss of life partner, for instance, even doing the dishes can be an achievement worthy of kind acknowledgment. The day after you will be able to achieve a little more…
Czech artist Honza Volf says: “Treat yourself, so life doesn’t get hard.“ It also works the other way round: “Especially when life gets hard, treat yourself!“ Go for a massage, eat some yummy food, pamper, and spoil yourself… This should not be only a reward for some great achievements. Especially when we are not feeling well, we need tender loving care the most! It’s necessary to give oneself time to charge batteries, heal wounds to re-gain strength, so we can spread wings and fly again soon. If you feel you don’t lack money or time, allow yourself at least a little pause, short dwelling in a present moment, and indulging in some little joy. For instance, a cup of delicious tea while watching the birds outside would do!
9. PIVOT YOUR ATTENTION
During a crisis, men tend to pivot their attention from problems to solutions. For sure, it’s not necessary to stay in the emotional mud for too long and focusing on the solution can be very effective. This approach though tends to drive us, women, mad because we need to express and process our emotions first. Then we can start fixing something. What I also find helpful is shifting attention from how I feel to how I want to feel instead. It’s not some kind of “airy-fairy escapism“. It’s a bit like having your leg broken and visualizing how it’s healing beautifully. We can go down the visualizing route or/and go for bringing up pleasant feelings through some pleasant activity (dance, sex, creativity…) The level of stress hormones (adrenalin, cortisol) drops and the happy hormones (endorphins, oxytocin) start to be flooded into your system. When you feel better, you gain some strength with faith, and then maybe even some amazing solution pops up!
10. ASK FOR HELP
If you feel that something is beyond your coping capacities, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A sign of a true strength is an ability to admit vulnerability. Sometimes, sharing with a dear soul helps. Other times, it’s ok to seek professional help, find a guide who will light your way with a lantern, hold your hand, and help you to get through a time when you feel lost and hopeless. If you are in such a situation right now and would do with some help, don‘t hesitate to get in touch. I’ve guided many people through dark periods of their life. It makes me incredibly happy to see them walking surely by themselves again and hearing about their retrieved inner strength and faith.
After all, a crisis is often a catharsis. Through the storms of life our soul learns and as the saying goes, no mud no lotus. So, I’m wishing us all to walk through the stormy days with our head up and always be able to raise from the mud again.
What is working for you during tough times? Please, share your tips. I look forward to reading them.