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How to Cope and Thrive in a Negative Environment

It seems that wherever we look, whatever news we watch, all is bad news! Starting with the weather, grocery and fuel prices, rising interest rates, war in Ukraine, just to name a few. Also the “back to normal” didn’t really happen the way we thought, adding frustration, longing and disappointment for some.

So how do we go forward? How can you stay positive and unfazed and not get sucked into the negativity - or even flourish and grow?

A great start is learning to distinguish between what you can control (e.g. your mood), what you can affect or influence somewhat (e.g. your schedule), and what you cannot control at all (e.g. the weather). Most frustrations will probably come from those things you cannot control - however, you can always control the reaction to how you respond to those things.

Choosing a healthy reaction to issues out of our complete or partial control (e.g. higher interest rate on your mortgage), gives you more power to shift your attention and take action on things you can control (e.g. review your personal or family budget and find ways to save money) that might help you stay more positive and focused.

Other recommendations:

  • Practice Mindfulness: as woo-woo as it can sound, it simply means to be attentive to what you are doing this very moment (e.g. holding the Tawny in your hands, reading this article and learning). By focusing on what is here and now, your mind cannot wander off into the future or past, or allow darker thoughts to sneak in and take over. Over time, paying attention to your sensations and thoughts will lay the foundation for other practices help you increase your happiness - and that’s what we are after, or not?

  • Focus on what is important to You - but first you need to know exactly what this is! Many people focus on the wrong things, chase the wrong goals and end up living a life they assumed was what they wanted, because “everyone else does this”. By figuring out what is important to you, what you deeply value and then translate this into work, relationships and hobby will lead to a fulfilled life.

  • Practice Gratitude - every day. In our family we have to list 3 things that happened each day and we are grateful for. By consciously choosing to review and find positive things in your day, you are training yourself to focus on the “good” things in life, as opposed of the negative ones. And by expressing gratitude for these things, over time this habit translates into greater happiness as documented by several studies.

  • Stay connected: One of the most frequently listed reasons for people’s happiness is having a strong support network - and it takes work to build and maintain it, but is always worth it! Go ahead and message 1 person you haven’t spoken to during the last year, now!

  • Get off the News - where possible. Ask yourself: How is my life going to change if I stop watching or reading the news every day? The constant stream of happenings, be it National or Global, can suck you in, and today’s reporters are masters at writing in engaging and fear-mongering ways. Remember - news outlets get paid for clicks, and you get clicks by using catchy and scary Titles (aka clickbait)

  • Have 1 daily ritual only for you - Call it self care, alone time, your hobby or a mental health minute - having your own “thing” goes a long way to recharge, maintain motivation, the feeling of control and enjoyment. This can be as simple as going for a walk alone (or with a podcast) or sitting and watching the waves for 10 minutes.

  • Get a Coach - now as relevant as ever. Having somebody help you navigate this uncertainty, make the right decisions and help you grow stronger, more confident and empowered to grow even more once things are more amicable

And remember, the most powerful tool to manage during these uncertain times is your own ability to choose how you will respond to what is happening around you!

NOTE: This is an article I wrote for The Tawny Frogmouth, a Northern Beaches local magazine

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