We all face difficult times in our lives. If we’re not careful, we can become overwhelmed. Our personal universe can revolve around our pain and every area of our life will suffer.
Though the suggestions below aren’t “magic bullets,” they will help us develop a more positive attitude.
1. Although we may be restless and find it difficult to doze off, by going to bed at the same time every night, we train our bodies—and hopefully, our minds—that it’s time to rest.
2. It’s also good to get up at the same time every morning. When we’re in a funk, it’s too easy to stay in bed when we don’t have to get up at a specific time.
3. So-called “comfort foods” are often high in sugar, fat, caffeine, and calories. These foods may make us feel better in the short term, but physiologically and mentally, they take their toll. And let’s face it, they won’t make life’s challenges disappear and they’re likely to cause even more.
4. Focussing on life’s difficulties can drain us of our motivation. We don’t want to plan healthy meals, shop, and do the prep work. However, with just a little effort, we can do something good for ourselves—and those in our homes—that has long-term benefits, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
5. Healthy eating doesn’t mean we’ll be in the kitchen for hours on end. In fact, there are many nutritious meals that take virtually no time to prepare. Treat yourself to a new cookbook or look up recipes online. I don’t know about you, but when I make a good meal, I instantly feel better—even before I eat it.
6. Limiting your meat intake and upping your veggie consumption will give you more get up and go. Those foods that take a great deal of energy to digest leave us feeling drained. If we’re down anyway, it won’t help.
7. Keep healthy snacks on hand. That will give us an alternative to cookies and chips—though I’m not talking about eliminating these less-than-healthy snacks completely. Beating ourselves up because we “cheated” won’t help us either.
8. Eat several small meals each day. This isn’t just for diabetics. If we keep our blood sugar constant—and it can fluctuate in all of us—we have a more positive outlook.
9. Get a change of scenery several times throughout the day. If your job requires you to spend several hours in front of the computer, try to make your breaks, evenings, and weekends as screen-free as possible.
10. Going for a leisurely walk or a bike ride can clear our mind and makes for a much more positive outlook. I want to emphasize “leisurely” here. I’m talking more about the mental and emotional benefits, rather than the physical ones—though even a short walk or ride has some physical benefits as well.
11. Find an exercise program or sport you enjoy and stick with it. Those days we feel like doing it least may very well be the days we will benefit the most.
12. And lastly—for now—deliberately focus on the positives. The old song says, “Count your blessings; name them one by one.” While our heartaches and burdens may consume almost every waking moment, we can redirect our thinking. Here are just a few ways to do so: listen to uplifting music; make a list of everyday blessings (food, clothes, friends, family, a job, transportation, indoor plumbing, a roof over your head, etc.); do something nice for someone else; remember others are going through the same struggle or something more overwhelming. Knowing we’re not alone helps plus it forces us to look outward and sometimes that makes a huge difference.
How do you deal with the challenges of life?
Stephanie Nickel, CLD, PTS is a freelance writer and editor, a labour doula, and a personal trainer.