Inside: how to stay sane and positive in tough times, with quick action steps and extra resources
“If all your friends jump off a bridge, are you going to jump too?”
Remember when that was your parents’ response to your totally reasonable request to stay out until midnight on a school night because “everybody’s doing it?”
And they were right. Just because everybody’s doing something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Especially when that something is freaking out.
The world has gone a bit mad over an illness these days. A lot of people are freaking out.
Please don’t join them.
We humans thrive on predictability. Creatures of habit and all that. But the reality is that life is not predictable.
If you’ve had the luxury of a predictable life so far, consider yourself lucky. And don’t freak out when things start changing. Follow these tips instead.
Tips for staying positive and sane when the times are tough
It’s not easy to hold onto sanity and positivity when everyone around you is panicking. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. So here are nine tips to help you make it a reality.
Tip #1: Don’t stick your head in the sand
You can’t really ignore your way out of a problem. Not to mention, if you stick your head in the sand, your butt is in danger, and you can’t see it coming.
You don’t have to do anything drastic – merely acknowledging the situation helps because it sets you up for actually doing something about it.
Tip #2: Remember, this too shall pass
It sounds like a platitude, but you already know nothing truly lasts forever. I mean, dinosaurs – died out, Blockbuster stores – closed, Friends – ended.
Keep things in perspective (easier said than done, I know) and remember this is all temporary. There is an end even if you can’t see it yet (which is what I kept telling myself on my first official 5K run, hehe).
Tip #3: Make a plan
This is the absolute best thing you can do to stay sane through tough times. Make a plan for dealing with the situation. Ideally, have plan A, plan B, and plan C. Just in case.
I say this based on years of experience as a nurse and military wife (and the wife of an emergency manager at that): plan for as much as you can.
That way, you know what you’ll be doing if XYZ happens and you’ll feel calmer. And you’ll be focusing on the solution instead of the problem. That will help you stay positive and sane no matter how difficult things get.
Tip #4: Count your blessings
Even when the situation is dire, you still have things for which you are grateful. Think of them every night before you go to sleep. Even better, start a gratitude journal to record them.
And then read your journal every time you start feeling down to remind yourself of all the things that are going well in your life. It will help you focus on the positive side of things.
Tip #5: Offer and ask for support
Reach out to your friends and family and offer your support to those who need it. And if you’re the one who needs help, let them know so they can support you. In tough times, people pull together and help each other.
Tip #6: Take a break
If the situation is getting dire and you have a hard time getting it off your mind, take a break. Turn off the TV, social media, even your phone.
When all the external stimuli are negative, it takes a lot more energy to stay positive. So feel free to turn them off and get some peace.
And while you’re at it, practice some self-care. That always helps.
Tip #7: Start a journal
Writing down your fears and emotions in a journal is an easy way to maintain positivity. You can express your concerns and vent your feelings on the pages of your journal without having to censor your words.
You can get things off your chest that you may not even want to voice to anyone else. Think of your journal as the quiet friend who keeps your secrets.
Tip #8: Focus on things you can control
In tough times, it’s easy to feel helpless – to focus on all the things that are outside of your control, and to worry about them incessantly. But don’t do that.
Instead, find things you can control and focus on them. Do your absolute best with them so you can feel a sense of accomplishment – that will help you be more positive about what is going on.
Tip #9: Embrace distractions
I usually tell you to eliminate all distractions and focus on what matters. And that still goes for when you need to be super productive.
But when it comes to getting your mind off a sucky situation, there’s nothing better than a fun distraction that brings you joy.
Here’s how you do this: snooze all fearmongering and anxious posters on Facebook, and like/love all funny animal gifs and videos you come across. Very quickly, your Facebook feed will become a source of laughter and joy for you.
Or check out these cute doggie comics. I bet they’ll make you laugh.
Quick action steps
- Write down how you feel – everything about the situation and how it’s affecting you. Get it off your chest and onto paper.
- Reach out – whether you’re offering support or requesting it or both, it will help you feel more like you’re part of the community. Working together is the key to overcoming tough situations.
- Make a plan – think of your biggest struggle right now and figure out a plan for it. Goals, deadlines, specific actions for if/then scenarios. It will help you feel more in control and save your sanity in the long run.
Books to read
Stay Positive: Encouraging Quotes and Messages to Fuel Your Life with Positive Energy – if you enjoy inspirational quotes, this is an excellent addition to your library.
Staying Positive in a Negative World: 33 Practices to Create a Positive Aura – this one has a bunch of uplifting stories with action tips to help you find the silver lining in everyday situations.
Positive Thinking Every Day: An Inspiration for Each Day of the Year – this is an older one, more like a perpetual calendar. Use it to start every day with a positive thought or as prompts for your journaling practice.
When everyone around you is freaking out because things are unpredictable, the best thing you can do is to hold onto your sanity and think positively.
Do not join the freaker-outers. This is one bridge you don’t want to jump from.
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