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Keeping positive in negative times

We all go through times when we just don’t feel as good as we’d like to. Whether you’re down on yourself, a particular situation or a recent blow you’ve been dealt, we share some tips on how you can stay positive.

happy woman thinking

Find things to do

Unfortunately when things start to get tough, it’s easy to want to curl up and do absolutely nothing. But all that time doing nothing causes you to think solely about the exact situation that’s getting to you. They say time flies when you’re having fun. Well, having fun may seem inconceivable to you when you’re down, but time also flies when you’re busy. And if you choose wisely, that thing that keeps you busy might lead you to having a little fun along the way. Picking a hobby to test out isn’t hard. It could be something you used to do but haven’t had time for in a while. It could be something you’ve always wanted to try. It could even be something you don’t think you’ll like but want to know for sure once and for all. Any hobby that keeps you focused on a task rather than on what you’re going through emotionally is perfect. It could be something crafty such as knitting or painting, something practical such as cooking or home improvement, or something physical such as dance classes or joining an athletics team. Whatever works for you.

Recognize all that you are

It’s important to remember that you aren’t just any one thing. No particular role or skill defines you. When we lose a part of how we identify ourselves — whether it’s a breakup, a job loss or one of the many other challenges individuals face — many people feel as though they aren’t themselves anymore. Although you are certainly allowed to grieve for your loss, remind yourself of all the other aspects of your life that make you who you are. They can be tangible (e.g., you’re crafty, you’re good at fixing things, you’re a great cook) or emotional (e.g., you’re a good listener, you care about your loved ones, you’re generous, you’re clever). This list may be hard to write at first. You may feel silly or unworthy. But you aren’t. Take your time thinking about all the traits and skills you’re happy to have. Even though one part of your life may have changed, there’s a lot of good stuff still there to be celebrated.

Take care of yourself

When you’re feeling down, even some of the simplest tasks can seem exhausting. And that can mean you let your general well-being slide. In the moment, putting food, exercise and hygiene on the back burner can feel right. But over time, this behaviour can make things worse. Eating poorly or not eating at all will exacerbate your sense of exhaustion and lack of energy. And choosing not to shower or put on nice, clean clothes can quickly decrease your sense of self-worth. Putting on your favourite outfit and throwing together a quick smoothie or bowl of oatmeal in the morning may seem like draining tasks, but they will ultimately give you the strength and energy you need to make it through the day.

Take it one day at a time

At one point or another, everyone faces challenges that seem scary or insurmountable. Frustrations with employment or unemployment, troubles with friends or family, traumatic incidents and big life changes can all be overwhelming. But they’re made particularly overwhelming by how we view them. Often it isn’t the current situation that is quite so daunting as is the fear that it might never get better or that it might even get worse. For many alcoholics, it isn’t giving up drinking that’s the hardest part; it’s the fear that they won’t be strong enough to maintain their sobriety. This sentiment transcends many issues. Although it’s completely natural to worry about what’s to come, dwelling on it doesn’t make it any easier. That’s why it’s so important to just take life one day at a time. Time truly is the ultimate healer, so each day you make it through is a success. You don’t have to feel stronger or happier or more successful today — you just have to get through today as best you can. With time, each day you make it through will bring you one step closer to healing.

More on mental health

Ideas for a mental health break
How your diet may be affecting your mood
Accepting silence

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