It can be difficult to always hear “be positive…don’t let it get you down.” There’s no denying, the past few months have been difficult for most, if not all of us. Here’s a timely reminder, from member and social worker Arden Teplow, on coping with trying times, whatever form they may take.
One of my favorite cartoons has a funny-looking little man pointing up to the heavens asking, “Why me?” To which the heavens respond, “Why not?” Focusing on “why me” wastes energy and can do psychological harm. Focusing on the reality of your situation, and coping with it, can be productive and effect positive change.
Coping means managing a problem; finding ways to take control of it. You can’t control what life gives you, but you can control how you react and deal with it. Also, the types of people you have in your life, whether they support you or create stress, affect your ability to cope.
Your emotions are valid and need to be expressed and supported, either by others, and especially by yourself. Be your own best friend. Try not to be fearful of what people might think about you if you are not positive all the time. Experiencing all your emotions is psychologically and immunologically healthy. The “Tyranny of Positive Thinking,” which says you are letting people down if you show negative feelings, invalidates what you are feeling and stops you from sharing.
Many people are adjusting to chronic health issues, major life changes, unexpected disasters, and the daily throes of life, all of which test our resiliency. People need an environment that provides the type of understanding that supports one’s needs. Over time, what makes us happy changes, and it is important to assess who one was before, what adjustments one has had to make, and what might bring more fulfillment to one’s life now.
Some life tips:
- Take one day at a time. Stay focused on what you can accomplish or enjoy today.
- If you’re having a bad day, have it.
- Break problems into small pieces and tackle one at a time.
- Throw out all your “shoulds;” they serve no purpose and make things worse.
- Rely on ways of coping that have worked in the past.
- Don’t feel guilty if you cannot keep a positive attitude.
- Use your support network and reach out.
- Do any form of physical activity. Even gentle activity keeps the mind and body balanced.
- Have a sense of humor – Laugh, Laugh, Laugh
Arden Teplow has a degree in Clinical Social Work and has worked in both the private and public sector. She is currently Care Manager at a home care company, where she advises clients and their families on elder care issues.