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How to Keep On Carrying On: psychological insights to help you keep going in tough times

Find out about tools and tactics you can implement from the field of psychology that could help you keep on carrying on by influencing your mindset; all road tested by Rebecca.

Is it me or are our current lives in early 2021 a slog?

This lack of physical contact, endless video meetings, no travel but safe at home or scary travel and not so safe at work, quick pace, fast decisions, projects endlessly on hold or suddenly needed now, online shopping and misjudging items look and size, not seeing friends, family and no hugs, pubs or clubs…. A living and working environment we would not choose which is sapping our energy.

I count myself as one of the lucky ones, I already worked a lot from home so had a desk, I live in the UK and am on the shielding list so have had a vaccine, I’m self-employed so used to work instability.

But I’ve had to implement A LOT of tactics and tools from the field of psychology to help me cope.

As I heard recently – we may be in the same storm but our boats are all different.

Here are some key mindset tricks, tools and techniques that are helping me, which I’d like to share with you:

AVOID NEGATIVE NEWS AND SEEK POSITIVE INPUT: We are wired by our evolution to pay more attention to things that are a threat… so I have heavily restricted my news and social media intake. Plus any news I read – I ensure is fact checked and I avoid things that are just scare mongering. Although I have ended up with a Facebook newsfeed of zoo animals, otter antics and silly cat pictures.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL: Second key thing for me has been to focus on what I have control over and accept that this isn’t forever. Really ‘shrinking’ my world and rather than thinking about what I can’t do, proactively thinking about what I can do. Control is such a positive influence on our psyche so working out what you can in your own world will really really help.

  • I also use a technique called GTD (Getting Things Done) which really helps me feel I am in control and have focus.
  • And I have changed my working pattern to be more forgiving i.e. have more gaps, not ram in too many zoom calls, decline some meetings, putting space in my diary that is protected from ‘meetings’.
  • I have introduced ‘holiday days’ where my computer does not go on, my phone is ‘out of office’ and I do something around the house or garden. Doesn’t really matter what but it’s not work – it’s having a good potter and downtime away from the usual.

FOCUS ON BUILDING YOUR POSITIVE THINKING PATTERNS: We have the capacity to influence how we feel by what we think; this is well proven in cognitive based therapies. So when I am feeling anxious, rubbish, sad, upset I work out what thought is triggering that.

  • I’ve been using mindfulness techniques to help me acknowledge and let it go.
  • I’ve also been using self-compassion to show myself a bit of kindness and care, that’s it’s okay not to feel okay.
  • I’ve identified thinking spirals that take me down this path of limitation and proactively challenge myself to look for the glimmer of hope instead and focus on the path of possibility.
  • Actively keeping a gratitude journal is helping, as I train my brain to be stronger at looking for positives. Again there is good research backing up this as a technique.
  • I’ve also reflected on how this is like my childhood living as an expat, moving often and never quite knowing what was going on. But realising that no matter what happened, I was resourceful, there would be a way through and I can adapt – even if at times I feel like I can’t. Knowing deep down I’ll be okay ultimately. Maintaining a flexible mindset helps.
  • And if all else fails, knowing that from despair and failure comes learning and new hope; so taking a growth mindset approach to my setbacks, as projects have been cancelled or postponed until who knows when.

REALIGN YOUR WORK WITH YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE: I have also had a good long look at my purpose in life and my work. What is it that really energises me and drives me? What are my strengths? What do I love about the world of work? What drains me and how could I do less of that? I’ve been doing a post-graduate diploma in business and personal coaching over the last year and this has really broadened out what I do in my work so I can work more holistically as a coach not just focusing on leadership styles or people management challenges. And I love it! It has really helped me connect with my purpose and it uses my strengths well.

BRING BALANCE INTO WHAT YOU’RE EATING: It’s not just what we think but what is going on in our body. I am a huge fan of chocolate so whilst I know giving up sugar is hugely helpful for stable energy levels – I’d be a critic if I said I did this!! Never. One of the things I’d take to a desert island – that and books and music. But do think about what you’re putting in. But…

  • I do make a conscious effort to cook fresh food and eat a rounded diet – hard when you can’t just pop to shops and have to ‘plan’ your online shop!
  • I am taking my vitamin D due to lack of sunlight and to boost my immunity
  • And like most people I am ensuring my working week has ‘no booze’ evenings has helped keep my mood levels stable. You have to work out what works for your body.

MOVE YOUR BODY: On that topic – moving your body more. There is heaps of evidence that exercise is good for depression. It even gets prescribed these days. So – a socially distanced walk with a careful friend helps me. Online Pilates and Clubbercise classes have helped. Find out what ‘movement’ works for you and is fun!

REACH OUT AND TALK TO OTHERS: Talking is a well-known therapy and knowing who you have in your support network who you can talk to is a valuable tool. There is good research showing the power of communities and how social living helps us live longer. So reach out and be part of a community. I am part of a business network called NetworkIn and the regularity of seeing familiar faces every fortnight and having adhoc social catch-ups has really helped me feel connected. I am also a very active member of CoCreation and this team has become like an extended family to me. I’ve found having space to talk about how tough it is at work, with people who know because they do similar work to me can help me feel less alone.

So that’s my top tips and what I know from psychology that has led me to this first aid pack of long-term survival.

What’s yours? Only you can discover what is right for you. Listen to your body, listen to your soul, hear what your subconscious is whispering to you. And do something about it!

If you’re like to hear more about this, then join Kath Thomas and myself at our Power of the Positive Mindset webinar on Thursday 25th March 2021 at 16:00-17:00 GMT. Register below.

If you want to reach out and connect please contact me on rebecca@workbrighter.co.uk.

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