How to find a positive in dark times

It’s a bloody tough time, there’s no dressing it up. 

Saving lives is always the priority, but it doesn’t make the new that ‘Christmas is cancelled’ is incredibly disappointing, after it was promised only a few days before. It shouldn’t have been promised in the first place, it’s all a shambles really.

I don’t think any of us knew how long the pandemic would go on for, or how long we’d live limited and isolated existences. Back in April, I wrote what to pack for 12 week staycation and at this point it’s been a (predominantly) a nine month staycation. With that in mind, you should be incredibly proud of the ordeal you’ve got through this year, but it doesn’t make the news of Tier 4 any easier to stomach. 

As we embark on a dark period for our mental and emotional health, I wanted to share some things I do when I struggle to find positives when life feels bleak. It’s helped in my grief and depression and these are things I’m doing now to improve my mental health too. I shared some tips here on how to mentally preparing yourself for the second lockdown, which may help too.

How to find a positive in dark times

Write down a list of things you’re grateful for

Shifting your focus from everything that’s lost to everything you’re grateful for, will make such a difference to your mood. You might not have your whole family, but you might be with someone you love a great deal and that’s something to be grateful for.

I hope we all have one person we love in our bubble if not in our household, to focus on, be grateful for and cling onto during this time. 

Gratitude is one of those things that the more you practice it and find moments to be grateful for, the more you notice the positive things in your life. Here’s a list I wrote back in March of 30 things I was grateful for.

Focus on the day you’re in 

A key part of getting through anything is to not think too far ahead, in my opinion. If you focus on the day you’re it doesn’t feel as overwhelming as you’re only processing what’s happening on this day, as opposed to seven days or 365 days. 

When my Dad died, I found myself thinking about all the days to come when he wouldn’t be there, which made my grief feel much worse. But it took me a long time to realise that the fear I felt about those days, and no matter how much I thought about them wouldn’t make myself more prepared for them. You can’t really imagine how you’re going to feel at 23 when you’re 16, or 43. So whilst I know that you’re only trying to protect yourself by thinking ahead, focus on the here and now as then you don’t suffer for any longer than you have to. 

Remember when you got through difficult times before.

There may have been days before when you wondered if you could get through a situation that really challenged you mentally. Write them all down as though you’re compiling a list of mental accomplishments – things that life has thrown at you that you’ve overcome. 

I find this helps when you don’t feel strong, as this usually reminds you of the strength you have within yourself. All of those difficult days you’ve overcome are reminders that you’re going to be able to get through this one too. Even if you don’t feel like it yet, that person who got through everything else, is still within you.  

Strip it back to what you do have 

It’s easy to overlook things we’ve always had and take them for granted such as a comfortable bed, warm clothes, hot water, fresh water. So really focus in on the small simple things in your daily life that you have. 

Create positive moments 

This could be watching a film or TV series that helps you relax or makes you laugh, Facetiming one of your good friends for a catch up. Those little pick me ups will create positive moments for you to be in, focus on and most likely help boost your feelings of gratitude as well. 

Place boundaries 

I think we’d all agree that this is about self-preservation now and the way to do that is by setting boundaries. If someone or something i.e. the news triggers you, then limit how much of it you consume. Focusing on the positives not only means finding the good, but also muting and restricting the negative aspects that are within your control. 

Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel positive all the time 

There’s a difference between feeling grateful and positive about one aspect of your life and feeling positive about everything. When you’re searching for those little nuggets of goodness, remember that they are in amongst a lot of other feelings and a lot of bad news. They’re the silver linings, but there’s still a whole cloud of other stuff. 

Be mindful that you won’t feel positive all the time and that’s OK, take it easy on yourself and try to focus on those small things or people you’re grateful for. Make room for all of the feelings to breath and co-exist. 

How do you find a positive in dark situations?

Read my other lockdown posts here.

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