“Today is life — the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.” – Dale Carnegie
The funny thing about life is that you can have a completely different opinion of it depending on which angle you are viewing it from. When the going is good, we tend to see everything in a more positive light. We don’t let the small challenges get to us as much, and we are able to appreciate each day’s gifts more.
When times are difficult or uncertain, however, the way we react to everything changes tremendously. Perhaps we have a shortened temper or we don’t get enough sleep. Maybe we put our self-care on the back burner, and maybe we stop doing things that we enjoy.
Dale Carnegie’s quote from above may seem like one that can only apply in a time of abundance and optimism. But when times are tough, his advice is more important than ever.
When events that we have little control over are happening all around us, we still have “today.” But we have to shift our view to focus on places where we do have control. Most importantly, remember that mindset is everything. In tough times, it’s crucial that we pay extra attention to keeping that mindset healthy.
Here are a few tips for making the most of today, maintaining mental and physical health and wellbeing, and keeping an optimistic outlook when times are uncertain.
Take care of your body.
It’s easy to let this slide. When extra stress is present in our lives, it can translate into unhealthy eating, disturbed sleep, and less physical exercise. But good food, sleep, and exercise are the very things that help to relieve that stress. So it’s important to keep these at the forefront. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and drink plenty of water. Prioritize sleep. And get your body moving throughout the day.
Take a break from social media and news.
When the uncertainty is external, we tend to develop the “can’t look away” syndrome and stay glued to media sources. This can take a serious toll on mental health, boosting anxiety levels to their max. As hard as it may be, turn it off. Take a break. Make a focused effort to shift your attention elsewhere — to your friends or family, to an enjoyable activity, or something that will make you laugh and smile.
Start a new hobby or take part in a creative activity.
Doing the things we love can be tremendously therapeutic. If those things are not a possibility currently, it might be the perfect time to start a new hobby or find a creative activity. Exercising creativity is a wonderful stress reliever. Draw, color, learn an instrument, do a craft, build something, etc. If it’s something new, it gives the added excitement of novelty which can also give your brain a break from stress.
Try a meditation practice.
There is an abundance of options available online for guided meditation. And if you’re intimidated by the word meditation, then just embrace a few minutes of quiet time each day where you can be still and focus on your breathing. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Many studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness reduce anxiety, and it’s a simple option that costs nothing and requires very little besides your willingness to try.
Talk about your feelings.
When you’re experiencing a new situation with a flood of different emotions, the worst thing to do is bottle it up and pretend like everything is normal. Talk to someone — whether it be a professional or simply a partner, family member, or friend. Having a conversation can remove some of the weight and even lift your spirits. When we can name and identify our emotions, it takes away their negative power over us.
Know what you can control.
Fear of the unknown is common. But instead of focusing on fear and worry — which aren’t productive emotions in themselves — change your focus to what you can control. Where and how can you use factual information to be prepared? Where and how can you be productive? You can indeed choose your reactions to external events. You can choose your mindset and where you devote your energy. Certain choices can send you into further emotional turmoil while other choices can have positive effects on your wellbeing. Notice what actions shift you to that negative direction and which ones shift you to the positive. Do less of the former and more of the latter!
Accept uncertainty and move into a mindset of forward-thinking. Acknowledge your emotions and what you indeed have control over. Don’t neglect your own personal wellbeing, especially if you want to continue to support those around you. And as Dale Carnegie said — in spite of everything going on around you — “live today with gusto” to the best of your ability. Your “gusto” might be the very thing that helps to pull someone else out of a tough place.