Even if you highly value optimism, 2020 is giving you a run for your money. As we sit six months into the pandemic, Hurricane Sally has pummeled the Panhandle, and we all know someone impacted by Covid, fires, racial tensions, not to mention the upcoming election discussions. Exhaustion and uncertainty fatigue are very normal in these circumstances. I continue to hear stories, both locally and nationally, of people being angry, irritable, depressed and overwhelmed. Situations that used to be mildly irritating are now feeling off the charts infuriating and disappointing. We are collectively worn down and struggling to manage emotions, to be kind to each other, and to find a continued sense of resilience.
So, what can we do to remember who we are and to be the people we want to be in the current season of uncertainty? What are the tools that inspire us not to give ourselves permission to spiral downward and give up loving our neighbors?
10 Ways to Endure & Thrive Through Hard Things:
– Engage self-care practices. When you sleep well, eat well, move your body, take prescribed medicine, engage in personal hygiene and get out of bed at a consistent time, you communicate a sense of hope and motivation to your brain and body.
– Look for the positive in the midst of the negative. While being honest with yourself about the real current challenges, also daily look for and focus on the positive happening around you. Hurricanes are awful; people showing up lovingly for neighbors is beautiful.
– Engage your spiritual life. Remember that God is present in the midst of suffering and you are deeply loved. While difficult, try embracing the reality that some our deepest growth as humans is born in times of suffering.
– Remember your values. Values such as honesty, family, love, and kindness can be consistent guides through both the wonderful and the awful moments of life. Try listing your top 10 values to remind yourself of the anchors that drive your life and decisions daily.
– Focus on others. Spend a few minutes each day thinking of someone you know and engaging in kindness toward them such as a thoughtful text, a phone call, praying for them, or helping them in a practical way. Remembering others gives perspective to our personal suffering and reminds us that love lives in the hard places.
– Let go of what you can’t control. Sort what you can control from what you can’t. As much as possible, let go of what is outside your control. Now, try spend your energy on taking meaningful action on the things within your control. I cannot control the pandemic; however, I can control my daily routines and self-care.
– Engage social support. Chat with neighbors outside, call or Zoom friends, return to activities that feel safe to you with social distancing precautions. We all need other people regularly.
– Breathe when you’re about to lose it. Don’t give yourself permission to take your frustrations out on others at home, at work or on the road. Notice when you’re getting flustered. Slow down, take 10 slow, deep breaths. Check in with yourself and take 10 more until you feel your brain calming back to the rational space.
– Give grace. Assume the best of other’s intentions until they prove otherwise. Be kind to yourself and others as much as possible. We are all having a hard time.
– Practice gratitude. Write or say aloud five things you are grateful for daily. It’s okay to repeat some. Be creative and try to notice new things that bring joy.
While many of these tools may seem simplistic, we often neglect practicing them regularly and wonder why we feel so negative and out of control. Take a few minutes to rate yourself on each tool using a scale of 1-10, 1 being “I’ve not been so great at this” and 10 being “I’m great at doing this daily.” Then choose two areas to begin focusing on consistently.
You are certainly not alone in the struggles you might be facing as you walk through 2020. Remember that seeking support is brave and wise. Journey Bravely has coaching sessions available to help you through finding tools for balance and forward movement in these challenging times. Connect with us at journeybravely.com.