None of us knows what life has in store for us or our loved ones and in the midst of great stress or grief, our guards can drop even further, making us susceptible to crises of confidence and feelings of inadequacy in all spheres of our lives.
The key to making the best of difficult times is to look for the positive in change, however unwelcome it may seem. This can be easier said than done and certain qualities and skills are needed to make it possible. Faced with this and the ever more uncertain state of the world, I wanted to put together list of tips and tools aimed specifically at addressing the problem of low morale during difficult times.
Surround Yourself with Stirring Symbols
Symbols are powerful motivators. They can communicate an inspirational message at high speed and with emotional impact. They can say in seconds something that might take many minutes or even hours to convey so they are particularly useful when time is short, or concentration for reading or listening is elusive. You could choose to use one of the many well- known archetypal symbols, such as a horse for power but for personal inspiration it is better to think of your own as it will have more emotional power for you.
Back Off Sensitively From Morale Drainers
Morale drainers are overly self-focused, will ignore you, or take you for granted; they may know your strengths, but remind you constantly of your weaknesses. They can be insensitive about your fears, disappointments and sadness and disrespectful about your beliefs. When you are with them or have just left them, you can sense that your hope and self-confidence are deflated. Because you are going through a rough patch yourself, this is not the time to either confront them or feel sorry for them so back off as fast as you can. A few white lies to use as excuses are quite justified. But make sure they are ones where you won’t be caught out so provide them with a minimum of information.
Draw Your Support from Your Friend’s Special Strengths
Friends can be drawn from your family, your social circle and your colleagues. If you appreciate each person’s special strengths and draw mainly on these you will receive much better support from them. This will also reduce the chances of being disappointed by some of your friends and losing out on the other benefits those friendships can bring.
Drink More Fluids
Not drinking enough fluid has significant implications for mental health. During an average day in the UK, an adult’s body loses approximately 2.5 litres of water through the lungs as water vapour, through the skin as perspiration or through the kidneys as urine. In times of stress you lose even more water than usual from your body. If sufficient fluids (the recommended minimum is 2 litres a day) are not consumed to replace this loss, the symptoms of inadequate hydration can appear, including increased irritability, loss of concentration and reduced efficiency in mental tasks.
Welcome The Wisdom You’re Gaining
Recall the last failure, semi-failure or hurtful experience you had. Think of at least one thing you learnt as a result, for example: that your strengths are not organisational and you are better at nurturing people. Although you may have preferred not to have faced that challenge, highlighting a potential gain in wisdom could help you approach a current situation a little more positively.
Flex Your Change Muscles
Moving on from difficult times frequently demands that you make some kind of major change in your life. Very few changes are easy rides, especially if they have been forced upon you, and it is human nature to feel uncomfortable, You’ll cope better with the bigger more frightening changes if you keep your “change muscles” flexed. A little practice at making some small adjustments in your life, your way of doing things or your outlook can help you to feel much more at ease when it comes to weathering the bigger transitions. For example, visit somewhere you have never been to and use a different method of transport to make the journey.
Using Imaginary Mentors to Psyche You Up
Compile a list of three to six people whom you admire for their persistence through difficult times. They could be people you know or famous figures. If possible, include one or two who have faced the same kind of challenge that you are facing. Whenever you feel like giving up or just want an extra push forward, close your eyes, take three slow, deep breaths, then recall the faces of your personal winners smiling encouragingly at you and listen to their words.
Gael Lindenfield is a psychotherapist and a leading voice in confidence and self-help. She is also the internationally bestselling author of 21 ground- breaking personal development books. Her latest book, How To Feel Good In Difficult Times from which this piece is based on is out on March 5th and available on Amazon and in all book stores priced £9.99