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How to stay hopeful in hard times

How are you? No, answer honestly. If not to me, then at least be honest with yourself. It is no secret that a lot of people are going through a rough patch right now. 2020 was an intense year and we’re not out of the dark yet. You may occasionally ask yourself how on earth you have to get through this. It’s a matter of hope, really; as long as you have that, you’ll figure it out. Below I’ve listed some tips to help you stay hopeful in hard times.

how to stay hopeful in hard times
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7 tips to stay hopeful in hard times

#1. Stop comparing.
“Talk about your feelings” is something you hear all the time. A lot of people are afraid to talk about their own pain, because they think it is not as significant compared to the pain of others. But when you ignore your own pain or push it away, sooner or later it will come out in other (very nasty) ways. So grant yourself the same sympathy to give your friend. You deserve compassion, too. Pain is not a competition.

#2. Upgrade your thoughts.
It is hard to quit overthinking, but it’s possible. Start by identifying thought patterns that make you feel down (“I feel lonely”); reflect on them (“this extra alone time does not mean I am isolated”) and replace them by more positive formulated thoughts (“I will use this time to work on myself so I will come out better than I was before”).

#3. Repeat a mantra.
A mantra is a motivating word or phrase that you repeat to yourself on a daily basis. It can help you to call yourself back when you notice your thoughts sliding off towards the negative end of the spectrum. The best mantras are very personal, so think about what it is that you need. Based on your needs you can then create your own phrase.

#4. Carve out more time for self-care.
You can’t help out other people – and therefore you can’t help you – if you neglect yourself. Therefore, use this time of social distancing to take better care of yourself and replenish your energy levels. Do yoga. Finally take the time to start meditating. Cook for yourself a little more often. Spoil yourself with a nice body scrub and a nourishing body cream. Rest.

#5. Go to your safe space.
When you get the feeling you’re losing control, think about a time and place where you felt comfortable and relaxed. Take your thoughts back to that beautiful summer vacation, that road trip, or maybe a specific visit to a good friend. Hang out there for a couple of minutes; it will restore your sense of security.

#6. Create a Do-Not list.
You really don’t need more to stress about today. So pick out one or two items that you don’t really have to do today. Take them off your To-Do list and put them (only for today) on your Do-Not list. There you go, you’ve just carved out an entire hour to commit to something you actually want to do. Tomorrow is another day!

#7. Replace normal with now.
The media are constantly referring to “the new normal”, telling us we should learn to accept it. But telling yourself to accept this as the new status quo will only lead to more stress and fear, and that is a dangerous cocktail. So instead of looking at this period as “the new normal”, consider it “the new now”. That way, you can convince yourself of the fact that the current circumstances are not permanent. This, too, shall pass.

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