I don’t know about you but I certainly did NOT plan for a Global Pandemic this year. Today I want to share with you how to cope during challenging times. And when I say cope, I actually mean THRIVE. I believe there’s so much more to life than simply survival and coping.
When we experience difficult and challenging times it triggers our mind and body’s stress response – Fight, Flight or Freeze. This, in turn, floods your system with a myriad stress neurochemicals designed to help keep you safe. They increase your awareness, vigilance and response to dangerous situations. But the problem we now experience in the modern world is that we allow ourselves to feel STRESS frequently. Thus inundating our body with the stress-related chemicals and ending up with an excess of these chemicals in our system. So instead of your Fight, Flight or Freeze response being activated only on the occasions you’re in actual danger, you’re consistently in THAT mode of being.
For many of us just now we are in that consistent STATE of stress. This means that life as a whole feels more of a challenge. Coupled with a lack of clarity as to how life will be going forward, it’s no wonder many people are experiencing poor mental health.
So how can you cope during challenging times and also thrive?
The first thing to do is RESET yourself so that you are in a clear calm frame of mind. This allows your body can do its job of reducing and breaking down the excess STRESS chemicals. There are 3 REALLY simple ways you can do this instantly:
🍃Practice controlled breathing. Sit comfortably and find a focus point on the wall just above your eye level. Begin breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you continue breathing allow your gaze to soften, almost like when you’re daydreaming. Notice that you can now see more of the room while still focusing on that singular spot. You can gently start to count your breathing. Breathing in for 4, holding for 4, out for 4, then wait a count of 4 before your next breathe. It can feel a little odd to begin with but practice makes it easier. After a few minutes you’ll notice a sense of quiet and calm in your mind. Remain and breathe for as long as you wish to. You can feel free to do this multiple times a day to RESET.
🍃Meditation and Mindful Practice. I LOVE meditation and mindful practice because it helps you to create clarity in your mind and connection to yourself. It also works absolute wonders to RESET and reduce stress chemicals. If you’re new to meditation or mindful practice then try my two favourite apps. I adore both the HEADSPACE app here and INSIGHT TIMER here. Just 10 minutes a day will make a HUGE difference in how you feel, how calm your mind becomes, and how easily you will cope with challenging times. I use a guided meditations, background music, and silence depending on what I feel is right at the time.
🍃Yoga practice. Even if you haven’t been a fan until now, Yoga is literally AMAZING as a way to reset. There’s really incredible science behind how Yoga affects us positively and reduces stress but I’ll save that for another time. Even 10 minutes of gentle Yoga Flow or Postures allows you to manage your breathing and on your body. The same as the breathe work and meditation, it lets you RESET and create that much-wanted calm. Pop on a beginner’s video from Youtube, get into the flow and enjoy a few minutes of flowing movement.
Once you’ve RESET yourself it’s time to CHOOSE how you want to FEEL.
You’ve created that CALM state with your RESET and now it’s up to you to decide what you want to feel next…..
You may be wondering, “How do I just CHOOSE how to feel?” Well that’s really simple. When you RESET it helps your mind to slow down and be more receptive. Being in a more receptive state then means you can more easily step into your chosen STATE or EMOTION.
You simply pick a memory that gives you the EMOTION you want to feel. For example, if I want to feel REALLY Joyful, I think back to swimming in the sea in Cape Town with my Mum. She was teaching me how to swim under the waves while the sun was shining and there were smiling faces everywhere. It instantly brings a smile to my face and a sense of immense joy. From there you can also pick a piece of music to further intensify the feeling so again sticking with Joyful I would pick the Spice Girls “Wannabe” because it’s light, fun and again brings me a sense of joy. Don’t judge me, it is a 90s classic!
Now you bring the memory and the song together and allow yourself to step back in time and FEEL that state. Let your body move with your music, let every cell take on board those gorgeous feelings and sensations, simple get into the flow and lose yourself temporarily in that moment. Notice how you also take on the FEELINGS and how your emotions change as you relive that wonderful time.
This works for every emotion and if you really want to you can double or even triple the memories so think of a few with the desired feeling you want to experience.
So by now, you’ve RESET, you’ve chosen your new FEELING and finally, you can decide how you want to handle whatever the situation is so that you THRIVE.
What I’ve found REALLY useful for challenging situations and how to cope with difficult times is asking empowered questions:
🌟 What outcome do I want right now?
💫 How can I achieve that outcome?
🌟 What, if any, help do I want or need to achieve that outcome?
💫 Who do I want to be to help me achieve that outcome?
Answering these questions, regardless of how unpleasant, scary, stressful or difficult the situation may be means that you are working towards a solution NOT focusing on the problem. You are creating a plan for what you can do to get the result you want and also checking in with yourself as to what assistance you may want to have. The last question also allows you to recognise what hat you want to wear to handle the situation. Maybe you want your KINDEST self to deal with it, or perhaps your most COURAGEOUS self or maybe your most LOVING self, and whichever you choose you know that you will be doing the BEST you can.
That’s it, 3 simple steps to allow you to know how to cope during challenging times. RESET, CHOOSE your EMOTIONS and then HANDLE the situation with a solutions focussed approach.
To THRIVE you make the above steps a habit so that you change your body and mind’s stress response to a CALM response.
Going forward it means you will feel far more relaxed even in crisis and hard times, and also better adept at managing your stress response. This creates more happiness, contentment, and a relaxed approach so you can handle everything beautifully.
Because you and I both know, we can’t control everything that happens in LIFE but we can control how we react and respond to it.
I’d love to know your top takeway from this post and if you’re looking for an extra hand in how to cope, thrive and grow during challenging times then let’s talk, you can contact me here.