When the going gets tough…

When the going gets tough…

Staying Hopeful

Life can be crap at times.

It doesn’t matter who you are. With a physical or mental disability, the stress of life can be even harder than the non-disabled. Yet, we all have our own strengths and weaknesses and sometimes, life can be overwhelming.

When you feel this way, it’s hard to be hopeful. It’s very difficult to be positive. It’s like trying to find the sun in a storm. You can’t see a way out because your mind is overrun by bad feelings. So, for those who say, ‘stay positive’, it’s not really helpful.

There are many steps to take to combat anxiety and depression but this article isn’t really about that. This is merely to provide some tips that may help you through a bad patch. And often it is just a patch.

Simple steps.

  1. Ride it out. Try not to fight it. Or dwell on it. Treat it like a wave. It’s not pleasant right now, but soon it will even out and wash up on the shore. Ride that baby home. It will pass. It may even get worse before it gets better but just hang in there. It will be over soon.
  1. Stay away from the media and social media. News loves a bad story. It counts for 95% of their content. It’s poison to your mind and mood. The world isn’t as bad as the news would have us believe. Social media also isn’t good as people often share these stories or go on about some injustice or rant. That’s their issue, not yours. You may agree or you may not. The reality is, you don’t need that crap in your life right now. Also people only share the really good things in their life so it can present a inaccurate picture. That their life is really great. And right now, yours isn’t. It can make you feel even worse about yourself.
  1. Stay in touch with the ‘right’ people. You don’t have to be on social media to get in touch with others. There’s texting, or calling, or Messenger, WhatsApp etc. Plenty of ways to communicate with others without social media. Some people are not good for you. They’re toxic. Stay clear of them, even if they’re your family. Just for now anyway. Others mean well, but they may try to ‘solve your problems’. Or tell you what to do. Fine if that’s what you’re after but most of the time we just want someone to listen to us. Or just to hang out with, and not even talk about our problems.
  1. Take mini breaks. If you’re working or even stuck at home, make a few minutes available to change your environment. Go outside. Look at something nice, like flowers or even the sky. Do some slow breathing. Be mindful. Be in the moment. Just take a break. Do a few of these a day, or even every hour if you’re not well. They will help.
  1. Give yourself a break. Are you trying to do too much? There’s only so many hours in a day. You don’t have to do it all today. And you can’t anyway. So try not to think about it. Focus on today only. Be kinder to yourself. Are you telling yourself negative things? Do you see yourself in a negative light? It’s a difficult cycle but try to look for the good qualities in yourself. There are many. Write them down if you have to. Don’t write down the negatives. Go easy. There are others who are happy to see the negative in others, so someone has to go in to bat for ourselves. May as well be the person closest to us.
  1. Do something for someone else. Helping others or simply being kind can shift your focus away from yourself. Too often we are stuck in our own heads. Being kind or helpful makes us feel good. Can’t get out of the house? Ring someone up who would like your call. Text someone you haven’t contacted for a long time. Offer to volunteer your time. Externalise your focus. It will help.
  1. Take stock of the beauty around you. You don’t have to travel to some exotic location to appreciate beauty. This goes back to point 4. There is even beauty in shapes. Look for patterns in the room. Look at the grain in wood. Sounds silly but it’s quite beautiful if you think about it. Is there a plant at home? Look at it for a while. Isn’t nature incredible? Look at the vastness of the sky. Appreciate the world and its beauty. There is a lot around us all the time. It’s just that we get so self-focused, we forget to take stock.

Not all of these will work all the time, but trying some of them everyday will help you ride the storm. Hope. It’s part of being human. Often when we are really down and can see no way out, a little bit of hope will enter our lives. Just be open to that possibility. It will come.

Anthony J. Langford

for PHM Health 2020

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