Life can often seem like a sea full of waves with occasional periods of calm. It’s not just yours. We all go through stormy waters, and some of us have more of them than others.
The question isn’t whether you’ll have difficult times; it’s, “How will you navigate those challenges when they arise?”
We won’t be the first to tell you that a positive outlook is essential to quickly clearing those storm clouds away. However, we’ll share that nugget of advice along with three science- and psychology-backed tips to help you find the ray of sunshine when everything seems dark.
Let’s start with the easiest — and possibly the most important. No matter how hard things are, you need to try to find a way to get restful sleep.
Have you ever tried to take a test, ace an interview, or do anything else that required your full focus after a night without sleep? It’s extremely tough for your brain to concentrate when it hasn’t gotten the rest it needs. Your brain cells don’t work like they need to, and that inefficiency spreads to everything you try to do.
Tossing and turning are common when you’re stressed and upset. But sleep deprivation has a physiological effect on your body. It disrupts your mood-balancing chemicals and the hormones that affect cognitive thinking and energy.
You know all this, but it’s still hard to shut those worries off long enough to fall asleep and stay there. If that sounds like you, talk to your doctor about natural and prescription sleep aids, like cannabis.
However, if you’re going to try medical marijuana, be sure to get the right strain. Sativas will wake you up and help you focus, while Indica induces feelings of sleepiness and relaxation.
Edibles are a popular way to consume cannabis without smoking, but always use a dosage calculator, like the one provided by Veriheal, to avoid too much or too little. You’ll need a Goldilocks just right amount to put you into Dream Land.
If we really wanted to start a worrying chain, we could easily create one that spirals out of control. Those concerns have to stop somewhere, and it’s up to you to put your foot down and decide where your boundary lies.
There are three main areas of control to help put each stress you have into perspective:
- Things you can control,
- Things that are up to other people to control, and
- Things only God/nature control.
You can’t control how other people think or how they’ll respond to stimuli. You can only change your response to their actions and behaviors. And, of course, you can’t do anything about nature, but if you’re perpetually worried about hurricanes (for instance), you might consider moving to someplace away from large bodies of water.
Once you switch your focus to only things that you can control, it’s significantly easier to put your energy into those areas, and you feel better.
This one is easier for some people than others, but it’s crucial. What about your life are you thankful for?
Look around your home. Think about your day and who is in your circle, either nearby or distant. Take a few minutes and make a list of the things that fill you with gratitude, even if it’s something as easy as your pet or a beautiful, sunny day.
Stretch outside the immediate and think about your favorite book or movie that makes you feel good. Have you visited other places where your soul felt peaceful? Are there bucket-list destinations you can’t wait to explore?
Those are all things to be thankful that they exist. Now, it’s time to look at what’s good about you that you can have gratitude for.
This part is harder for most of us. It’s not always easy on the best of days to compliment ourselves, but when things are difficult, it’s extra challenging.
Find ten things that you like about yourself, and write them down. Start with the basics, such as characteristics other people mention. Maybe you’re kind to animals. You’re good at your job. You’re easygoing.
Keep going until you get to ten, then try to push to twenty. Once you get going, you’ll see there’s more about you that you like than you realized! And recognizing that can turn your mental shift from negative to positive. Hold onto that list and pull it out when you’re struggling to remember that there are good things in your life.
While a positive attitude isn’t the default setting for most of us during difficult times, it is a good goal to strive toward.
It doesn’t mean you have to be cheery and ignore your problems. However, just the act of trying to be more optimistic using these three tips is often all you need to change your thinking from a downward spiral to an upward climb.