Training for your first marathon was supposed to be an amazing experience, then covid cancelled the event. You’ve been eating gluten-free for two weeks, but you’re halfway done with sushi when you realise soy sauce isn’t gluten-free. Then, there are bigger challenges such as redundancy, broken relationships or bereavement.
Unexpected hurdles of any size can make us feel anxious, overwhelmed and out of control. Sometimes when one bad thing happens, it can send you down a slippery slope of negative thinking. You go on high alert for anything else that could be considered bad; you doubt yourself, you internalise, you spiral.
But, an obstacle doesn't become stressful until you decide it is. That means you have the power. You can choose how to view setbacks — and you can even use them to spring-forward to greater success. Here’s how….
Feel all the feels: Stop and take time to think. It may be tempting to believe the best way through is by ignoring the pain and “putting a brave face on”. However, research shows that accurately identifying your emotions can help you psychologically digest what’s happened and recover faster.
Accept and act. Understand that changes happen. There will be times when routine goes out the window and reality takes on a whole new shape. Accept new changes and look at them as fresh opportunities and a chance to learn something new. Deal with your problems one step at a time. If a problem is too big to deal with all at once, try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps. Celebrate any and all small wins!
Highlight what’s going well: Just as negativity can snowball, good vibes can gain momentum. Psychologists show that consciously focusing on good things helps to increase our experience of positive emotions. It’s important to think about the unexpected advantages to any new situation. That will create confidence and motivation to help you get back on track.
Ask others for help: It’s easy to feel isolated when we have problems. We’re constantly bombarded by images of people with “perfect” lives which can make us feel we’re not good enough or even ashamed that we’re struggling. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all have ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, and connecting with others is a source of resilience. Spend time with positive people - find those who lift you up and support you.
Selfcare: Don’t forget to get enough sleep, exercise and eat well. Stress can mean our personal selfcare falls off the priority list, but it shouldn't! Taking time out to treat yourself makes you feel good and aids the healing process.
Regardless of the problems you may face, it’s getting back up and springing forward that counts the most! So here’s to using adversity to your advantage!