Here are 4 ways to stay optimistic and healthy when times are tough.
Nine in ten people recently surveyed said their finances had been negatively impacted by the mining downturn. A common consequence of hitting hard times is people stop taking care of themselves — but this is precisely the time when we should be as healthy and optimistic as possible.
The main offenders are:
Not eating well
We eat “comfort food” for a very good reason: it’s comforting. Carb-heavy, sweet and fatty foods satisfy cravings and are a cheap and convenient way to feel better in record time. But this wears off very quickly and we all know how it feels to overindulge. And why would you want to feel like an unwell version of yourself when you’ve got other fires to fight in your life?
A complete lifestyle overhaul isn’t always advisable for long-term change, so start off with one healthy meal per day or cut out a few snacks, coffees or energy drinks, and improve from there.
Not moving enough
The effect of physical activity on wellbeing is well documented: it releases endorphins and stress-relieving hormones, and it gives you more energy and helps you get a good night’s sleep. Exercise also gets you out of the house and socialising with others (a major factor in warding off depression), not to mention boosting self-esteem and helping you cope better with other situations.
It doesn’t matter what you do – swimming, walking, martial arts, resistance training or even gardening — it’s all worthwhile.
Not getting enough quality sleep
People who are under stress can have disturbed sleep patterns and often develop insomnia. If the sleepless nights are starting to add up, look at what you’re doing in the hours before bed. Are you playing games late, reading on your mobile, drinking alcohol or having too much caffeine? If you’ve reduced those and sleep is still eluding you, try these:
-Keep a sleep diary. You might be surprised at the patterns that emerge.
-Don’t lie in bed awake all night. Stay in bed only when you’re tired; otherwise, get up and engage in a quiet activity such as reading a book.
-Practice good sleep hygiene. Make sure your room is dark, on the cool side, and there are no distractions such as mobile phone alerts.
This last point is especially important. It might sound hokey, but the way we think colours every aspect of life.
Money might be a bit tight — or you might be temporarily out of work — and while thinking positive doesn’t necessarily pay the bills, it can change your mindset and leave you open to new opportunities.
For example, focus on what is going well for you financially. Have you made wise investments? Have you got a significant sum in your superannuation account? Are you free of credit card debt? Or do you perhaps have a buffer fund in the bank? For more ways to deal with financial worries, check out these tips.
There are other helpful strategies too, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Try confronting your thoughts by evaluating whether they are over-exaggerating the situation or jumping to conclusions. Write down the original thoughts and what you think might be a more realistic view of the issue. Also try mindfulness training to practice being in the present moment. Observe your thoughts as they appear but don’t try and fight them. For more information about mindfulness, visit The Happiness Trap.