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Monday, 4 January 2021

How to keep a positive attitude and mindset during challenging times


How to keep a positive attitude and mindset during challenging times

A lot of people have commented over the past year how I have managed to keep a positive attitude and mindset despite months of Tier 4 Coronavirus lockdown and general struggles and worries living in through a pandemic so I wanted to share a few tips in case it helps someone else. Don’t get me wrong, I have also spent time over the past year moaning, crying, being frustrated, lonely, angry and most other emotions at one point or another but I do believe the key to a happier life, is to allow yourself to feel all of those things, but then have strategies in place to ensure those feelings don’t take over everything.

I wish by reading this it would be able to cure everyone’s sadness, it won’t, but I hope for some people it will help even a little. I am absolutely not an expert and just talking about the things that personally help me, so if you do need further support, I have listed some helplines and websites at the bottom of this post. It's a pretty long post so I won't be offended if you only read the headings!!

Allow yourself to grieve for time lost

I’m sure everyone reading this can relate to feelings of helplessness, sadness, confusion, anger, loneliness etc at some point this year. I can assure you, even the most positive people have felt all of these emotions and rightly so, we’re living through a pandemic! Remind yourself it’s okay to feel like this, and allow yourself time to grieve for the times we’ve missed out on this year.

The hardest for me was definitely having Christmas cancelled for everyone in London and South East. I was pinning my hopes on seeing my family who live 3 hours away in Devon as I had only seen them once all year. I had my clothes washed, bags almost packed and I was ready to go when the announcement came on to say everyone in London was to spend Christmas with their household only. I was torn apart and cried all night. I acknowledged it was okay to feel like this, and to feel so sad for the magical Christmas moments missed that I treasure so much each year. But the following day, I forced myself to get up, stop crying and come to terms with the new plans.

Suppressing our emotions too much is very damaging in the long term, allow yourself to feel however you need to feel but try to set a time limit on negative emotions and have a plan in place to pick yourself up when that time has passed using some of the ideas below.

Take responsibility for your own happiness

Remember this, you are the ONLY person in control of your own happiness. You need to take control. Every time I hear comments like ‘I love cooking so much but I don’t see the point for one person’ or ‘I love having movie nights but I don’t see the point on my own’, it honestly destroys my soul. If you love something, do it, you don’t need to be with other people to enjoy it if it’s something you truly love. If you love cooking, get out those recipe books and cook yourself your favourite meal and enjoy every second of it. Right now, when we can’t be with our friends and family to enjoy these things, we need to learn to enjoy them on our own. Be responsible for your own happiness, think about what makes you happy and have more of that in your life. Appreciate that is easier said than done but the key thing to remember is, you’re in control.

Check your language

I am definitely guilty of having a moan or 10, especially when something particularly bad/upsetting/stressful has happened. I allow myself a couple of minutes of a conversation to have a little moan, because that’s a normal way to express ourselves, but then I try and finish the topic with a silver lining or positive note. This helps the conversation then flow in a positive way on to the next subject.

It’s very easy for conversations to continue to be negative, especially right now, so check yourself when a negative conversation has gone on for too long. If the person you’re talking to continues to be negative when you are trying to turn the conversation around, then I would recommend making your excuses and ending the conversation.

Listen to your mind and body

We all need times when we stay in bed and aimlessly flick through our phone, nap or watch TV but too much of that can be unhealthy for our minds, especially when we aren’t in a good mindset to begin with. Allow yourself times to relax and do nothing, but also ensure you have things planned to look forward to and get you up and out of bed. This will give you things to look forward to and also keep you motivated to get up and keep busy. Back in March 2020 when we first went into lockdown, I wrote a blog post with lots of ideas of how to keep busy at home. You can read it here

Make a note of things you’re grateful for

This is a really quick thing you can do in a couple of minutes. Okay it’s not going to instantly make you feel on top of the world, but, it will give you some time to appreciate things in your life. I always try and make a mental note of things I’m grateful for each day, particularly when I’m feeling down or stressed. Today I’m grateful for not going back to work until 4th January to give me a few extra days to work on myself and my projects and I’m grateful for having a cuddly dog who always snuggles up to me and makes me feel good.

Analyse your social media

Social media at times can be one of the most toxic places to spend your time, and I’ve noticed this particularly this year. If you are feeling triggered by social media then take these steps to re-curate your feed

  1. Analysis: do any of your social media platforms make you feel bad, sad, low, anxious, stressed etc? If so which one, and are there any triggers to these feelings
  2. Remove triggers: remove any triggers from your social media. I have personally unfollowed or muted people and muted specific words.
    I usually find the mute function more helpful than unfollow on Twitter because due to the algorithm, even if you unfollow someone, if a lot of your followers interact with that person or content, it will still show on your feed unless you mute them
  3. Curate your feed: Follow people or accounts that make you feel good. Your feed will be filled with things that lift you up instead of bringing you down

Spiffy – The Happiness Shop

I am SO excited to tell you all about this shop if you haven’t heard of it already. It’s my favourite shop in all the world and most of my friends receive gifts from them all the time, I wish I could buy everything for everyone. They sell everything from pins and badges to books and stationery all with the aim of making people feel happier. You can search their products by need which is split into; confidence, positive thinking, purpose and fulfillment, self-care, stress and anxiety, LGBTQ+, Men’s mental health and grief, and everything they have is truly amazing. My description of their website really doesn’t do the amazing products they have justice so go and check them out yourself.

Do a good deed

I don’t know about you but when I do good deeds, it makes me feel really good inside. Over the last year I have baked for the local hospital’s COVID wards to give the doctors and nurses a sweet treat to keep them going throughout the long, hard shifts. I’ve never been able to see anyone enjoy the cakes and biscuits I’ve made but it truly doesn’t matter, it makes me feel really good just knowing I’ve done something for other people, without needing a pat on the back for doing so. If you’re not into baking, here’s a couple of other ideas of good deeds to help the local community

  • Collect food for your local food bank
  • Check in on a neighbour or elderly person who lives alone to make sure there’s okay. This can be done safely by knocking their door and standing 2m back on their driveway to ensure distance
  • Check in via text or phone call to someone who may be feeling lonely
  • Donate what you would have usually spent on a few drinks at the pub to a charity who means a lot to you

Celebrate your wins

In a year full of sadness and disappointments, it’s important to celebrate the things we have accomplished, even if it may seem small. Remember to give yourself a pat on the back and take some time out to reflect on something you’ve achieved. If it helps you remember, make a note of all of these things so when you need a lift, or to remember how far you’ve come, look back through the list and it should help remind you how great you are!

You could set yourself a small challenge per day whether it’s going out for walk, reading a few chapters of your book or taking an hour out from social media. Make you sure you take 5 minutes at the end of the day to celebrate if you’ve completed your challenge. And if you haven’t been able to, that’s okay too, try again tomorrow. By doing this, you’ll consciously realise you have achieved something each day and you’ll be taking the time to congratulate yourself for it.

Create a Pinterest motivation/positive quote board

I have done this for as long as I can remember, definitely before Pinterest even existed, I used to write down motivational quotes in a notebook and read it when I needed a pick me up and it’s still one of my favourite things to do. Create some boards on Pinterest, or another mood board platform, they don’t need to be quotes, just anything that will motivate you and when you need some inspiration you can look through it. I always find reading girl boss quotes hypes me up into feeling like working again and lifts my mood in a positive way!

Take photos of good moments

This is one thing I’ve really learnt the value of this year. If you’ve seen my camera roll, you’ll know I probably take about 7000 photos a year and that’s not even an exaggeration. When I was travelling a lot in a pre COVID world and I had many hours at airports or on planes on my own, I used to scroll through the memories and it used to make me so happy to remember all of those moment. I also used to print them or put them into photobooks or make TikTok videos with great memories that made me feel good too.

This year, as it came to December and I was reflecting on the year I felt like there wouldn’t be that many good moments. I went through my camera roll month by month and selected photos of great memories from the past 12 months to put into their own album and actually I realised, there were way more good times that I first thought. I think sometimes we get caught up in the negatively of a situation it’s easy to shut out those small moments that made us feel good. Those long ways in the beautiful spring evenings during the first lockdown, the pub gardens when we were allowed to meet outside in small groups. When I had been through each month I realised my camera roll was FULL of great moments of 2020 and it made me feel much more positive remembering all of those times.

So don’t forget to get that camera out. There’s no excuse, we all have them on our phone. Snap the good memories. They don’t need to be composed photos, they just need to be in the moment. Then you have them to look back on when you need to feel some positivity.

Surround yourself with positivity

Last but by certainly not least, surround yourself with positivity. Over the past few years I have really learnt what a difference this makes on your mental health and mood when you surround yourself with good people. The phrases ‘you are the company you keep’ and ‘you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with’ spring to mind. There are some people in my life that are so deep rooted in negativity and nastiness at times that I have really learnt to withdraw from those conversations, especially when I am already feeling down. My automatic thought process is to help people, to bring them up, but sometimes it’s not possible and I can’t let myself be bought down in the process. Surround yourself with people who make you feel great, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.

Well I hope these suggestions can help even a little bit to keep up a positive spirit through challenging times. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel good all the time, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, cut yourself some slack!

If you need further help or assistance please see below for some helplines and contact details:

Anxiety UK
Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm)

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably. A charity providing a mental health helpline and webchat.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)

Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)

Take care, keep well and wear your masks!! 

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