Your worst enemy can not harm you as much as your unguarded thoughts – Buddha

Are you having a difficult day?

It’s hard to find a good reason to be positive when you are going through traumatic changes in your life. You may find days where you are happy and things feel like they are going just as you want. Then all of a sudden your mind skips back to a less positive event in your life, something someone said to you, the pain of loss, the difficulties you are going through and suddenly you just can’t find anything positive to get you through the day. These are dangerous moments because if you are not careful they can suck you into a whole story that becomes your reality.

The normal thing to do is:

  • Be positive, change your negative thoughts to positive thoughts.
  • Talk to someone about your feelings. I find this just adds to the story you are telling yourself, except now you also include someone else’s thoughts.
  • Distract yourself and hope the feelings go away.
  • Ignore your feelings.

The Mindful Approach:

From a young age we are taught to distract ourselves from sadness, negative thoughts, pain and bad feelings. We switch on the TV to forget, or we have a drink. But worse is that we get harsh on ourselves, we don’t allow ourselves to feel what’s actually there because it’s too hard, it’s not acceptable to be sad. In fact the healthiest way to build your happy muscles is to acknowledge the not so happy thoughts and feelings, to accept not to deny what you are feeling.

It’s natural to feel down at times, especially when you are going through difficult times. It’s natural to cry and let your feelings out, it’s definitely not natural to keep it all inside. The hard thing to do though is to make sure you don’t let this sadness, unhappiness become your story taking over every minute of your day. That is dangerous and can lead to deep routed emotional problems.

7 Mindful Tips to get through a difficult day:

  1. The first thing to do is to be fully aware of how you are feeling. Don’t try to fight it or to push it away. Just acknowledge it. “I am feeling a bit down today”.
  2. When I have a day like this, I prefer to spend some time in complete silence. Now this may not be for everyone because being in silence really does force you to face your feelings and thoughts. However if you want to incorporate mindfulness into your life, then you need to get used to living with silence.
  3. For at least 10 minutes sit still or try some quiet meditation. I suggest at least 10 minutes but not more than 30 minutes if you have no or little experience in meditation. If during the meditation you get the urge to move, run or just can not focus then be kind to yourself, let it go and try again later. Sitting still when you are having a difficult time can bring up strong emotions.
  4. Go out for a mindful walk. All this means is walking quietly, taking in your surroundings, breathing in the air and trying to get yourself to a place where you suddenly realize how great it is to just be alive. Even with all the obstacles you are facing, life is still beautiful. I sometimes take my camera with me because photography forces you to stop and take in your surroundings.
  5. Music is powerful and yes it may sound like you are distracting yourself but actually music can help you settle your thoughts. Choose to listen to just music without lyrics so that you do not get pulled into the story.
  6. Do something routine and boring, like clean your wardrobe (just an example that I would probably do).But do it mindfully, that means don’t think about what he/she did to you, how you are going to pay your bills etc etc, just complete the task. It won’t be long before you suddenly break the thought pattern that was making you feel bad.
  7. Cook, write, draw, paint – be creative. You will be surprised at how immersing yourself in something creative can almost be like a meditative state. I know many of you will be saying “but I’m not creative!!” Well guess what it doesn’t matter because only you will see it, so who cares how good it is. It is what it is and most important, it’s you.

Beyond everything it’s important to acknowledge your feelings, to understand that having down days, struggling with parts of your life is normal. It is also important to make sure you seek help if you are feeling down on a regular basis.