Strategies to stay positive during difficult times

There’s so much uncertainty right now, it’s no wonder you may be feeling overwhelmed, helpless or fearful! It’s OK to feel these things, but you don’t have to be stuck like this. 

Our minds look for the negative. It’s a way of surviving. There are plenty of things going on right now that your mind can be negative about. Over time, the stress response has a negative impact on your body. This not only feels unpleasant, but it actually increases your chances of illness. 

So how can you break this negative cycle with so much uncertainty in the world? When you focus on the things that you can control, you’re more likely to feel calm and positive. Taking back control over your life can make big challenges much more manageable. 

These strategies will help you stay positive during difficult times. 

Create a new family routine

We want certainty and comfort through feelings of control, familiarity and pleasure. Our usual certainties have dramatically changed with COVID-19. Creating some certainty through a revisited family routine can bring back some feelings of control. 

Try cooking meals together, organising indoor exercise activities, or setting a recurring movie or games night. Plan in advance and have things to look forward to as a family.

We’ve been playing a lot of games either just before dinner or after. It’s added fun and social experience to our meal routine. 

Explore your local neighborhood

Explore your local area to keep your body and mind busy. We need a certain level of uncertainty, variety and unpredictability to keep things fun and exciting. 

Explore a park or beach close by that you’ve not been to recently, walk a different route to the shops, or discover a new take away coffee shop in the neighborhood. 

We’ve been ordering dinner from local restaurants instead of cooking dinner on a Friday night. It’s a great way to learn more about what’s on offer, try something new and support local businesses.

Connect with others

We all want to feel loved and connected. Feeling a sense of closeness and unity to someone or something is a fundamental part of life. Unfortunately, social distancing and recurring lock downs create a barrier to the connection we’re so used to. Online mediums like Zoom or Messenger may not feel as comfortable or familiar, but they offer a source of connection. Try setting a regular weekly or fortnightly catch up with friends or family that you can’t see in person. Having a regular meeting gives you something to look forward to and builds routine and comfort. 

I’ve been using messenger and Facetime with a group of girlfriends. We’ve been staying connected more now than before COVID-19!

Expression of Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is the fast-track way to feeling positive. It’s about giving thanks for what you have right now. Gratitude helps you to stay in the present, rather than worrying about the past or the future. It allows you to accept all the good that life has to offer. This is so important when times are tough because it makes you realise all the good that still surrounds you. Try consciously thinking about, or writing down, something you’re grateful for at the end of each day. You can even do this as a family at dinner time and share one thing each. 

I’ve been writing down three things at the end of each week in my diary. It’s become part of my preparation for the next week. It’s lovely to be able to see all the great things in my life written on paper, particularly when things feel more difficult than usual. 

Focus on your breath

Your breath is your anchor to the present moment. Deep breathing encourages the relaxation response in our body. Your thoughts slow down and it helps calm your nervous system. Whenever you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, try to focus on your breathing. 

Attach 3 deep breaths to a habit you’re already doing- like plugging your phone into your charger or turning on the kettle. I’ve been using deep breathing whenever I stop at the lights while driving, first thing in the morning and when I open the fridge. It slows down my day and grounds my thoughts.

Use your senses

Turn off from auto-pilot. Using your senses helps you to be more mindful and experience the present moment, rather than replaying things that happened in the past or worrying about what’s going to happen next. Even when things are tough, there are still great things to see, hear, feel, taste and touch. Try to:

  • Watch the sunrise or sunset.
  • Listen to music or a meditation like my short morning meditation
  • Enjoy the taste of your coffee. 
  • Take in the smells while cooking dinner.  
  • Enjoy the feel of a blanket or cleaning your face before bed. 

I’ve built mindfulness into my daily routines while walking the dog and getting ready for bed. Select one activity you already do and try to focus on at least one sense while doing it.

Try Yin Yoga

Take some time for yourself and give your body what it needs to recharge. By slowing down your mind and body during Yin Yoga, you are gifting your body with gratitude and relaxation. Yin Yoga releases stress, worry and unease. The slow movements encourage you to sit with your emotions and learn to accept them. This can have lasting benefits with your mental wellbeing, well beyond the end of the practice. Over time your resilience may become stronger, making it easier to overcome life’s challenges.

Butterfly yin yoga shape | gentle-exercise | less-stress

If you’d like to slow down, relax and unwind using Yin & Nidra Yoga in the comfort of your home then join me on the mat. Just 10 minutes each day, no yoga experience needed, it’s perfect for all ages.

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