It’s easy to become discouraged during hard times, especially if you aren’t financially stable. Increased problems, such as job insecurity, fear of the unknown and everyday stress, can lead to anxiety and depression.
When so much is out of your hands, it’s important to remember what is in your control. Positive thinking is a strong force everyone can tap into. Do your thoughts nurture you and bring you hope for your future? If not, create a healthy belief system. Think uplifting thoughts, choose uplifting feelings and focus on creative ideas.
Toxic thoughts create toxic emotions. If you think fear, you will feel fearful. If you think you’re desperate, you will feel desperate. You can set yourself up for a good life or a life of failure. Here are some tips to help you with thinking positively and dreaming about a happy future, even in tough times. What do you have to lose?
Choose determination over desperation. Think of how you feel when you feel desperate, versus when you’re determined. Living in fear, anxiety and negativity will cause you to feel desperate and lead you into a downward spiral. As long as you have food, shelter and clothing, you aren’t truly desperate. As long as you have family and friends, you aren’t desperate. Determination, on the other hand, offers hope. It’s necessary to trust and embrace possibility. Yes, even in tough times. Be determined to take persistent action every day toward making your life better. Be bold, and do whatever it takes.
Go on a media fast. Don’t worry about the lack of information—if something happens that you need to know, someone will tell you. Or you can read just the headlines as you walk by a newsstand. If you have money in the stock market for the long run, you don’t have to worry about it going up or down day to day; you weren’t going to do anything about it, anyway. If you want to know what is in the news today, I can tell you: It’s the same as yesterday. Same fear, different story.
Uplift yourself. Choose to listen to music, watch comedies, see old movies or play games. There are a million ways you can spend time lifting yourself up. Any time you engage in something positive, you produce neuropeptides that echo feelings of happiness, contentment, excitement, joy and hope. When you do this, your energy will change as well. Read inspirational stories, listen to positive podcasts or watch DVDs about people who have overcome great obstacles. There is no difference between them and you. Countless people have survived war, the Depression and recessions, and have literally lost everything. Yet they came back stronger than ever, in all areas of their lives.
Appreciate everything. Learn to live in a state of gratitude. Acknowledge the value within and the value without. When you are fretting and fearful, stop and think of your best memories. Dwell on them for a while, remembering the joy and gratitude you felt. Bring those feelings into the present moment. The more you acknowledge gratitude, the happier you will become. Gratitude heals. Your energy from this exercise will bring you even more things to be grateful for in the future. You can choose to focus on what’s missing in your life…but what you need instead is a solution. It’s not necessary to have a new relationship, a new home or a better job to be happy. You can choose happiness now by choosing gratitude and appreciation.
Learn to live with less. Most people blow their needs out of proportion. No matter how much stuff they have, there is an insatiable desire for more. They live in a constant state of dissatisfaction. When I was growing up I had one pair of shoes. Today, I have several. Shoes don’t bring happiness. In fact, they are often in my way. How would your life change if you became satisfied with what you have? Get rid of clutter. Become aware of how much you bring into your home versus how much you carry out or give away. Stop wasting anything. Choose to lead a simpler life.
Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for anything you could have done but didn’t do. If you would have known better, you would have done better. Let go of the mistakes you have made in the past. You’ve carried that ball and chain for too long; take it off. You will feel lighter and free.
This too shall pass. Nothing is permanent. Tough times offer us an opportunity to grow. The sun will rise and the sun will set. It always does. Think of all the things you’ve been through, and have not only survived, but have made you stronger in the process. Take one day at a time.
Breathe. When you catch yourself feeling fearful, worried and desperate, stop and take a deep breath. Bring yourself to the present moment, and remind yourself that you can choose to feel peaceful instead. Unless someone has a gun to your head, you can choose peace in any moment. Learn to stop scaring yourself with your thoughts.
Relax your muscles. Quiet your mind. Think of the people you love and the joy they bring you. Let go of striving, and become aware of thriving. The quality of your days will increase, and you’ll experience more joy. Seek professional help. It’s normal to be stressed, down and frustrated when you live in uncertain times. It’s important to monitor your moods. If you find you can’t shake anxiety and depression, you may need to seek the help of a professional. Be brave. Be bold. Take the necessary steps.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #33.
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