Finding strength in the face of the news of the conflict in Ukraine is so distressing, it makes one feel powerless and incredibly sad, in same way we might feel about climate change. These are perfectly understandable feelings. So how do we manage the constant barrage of bad news and find a positive frame of mind?
I take my inspiration from the trees. Walking amongst them feeds my soul, and helps me to renew my positive energy, so here are my tips from nature for finding strength and hope.
1. Stand Tall
Our mental & physical states are intertwined, you can see someone physically shrink inwards when they are feeling defeated, lonely or sad. So practice standing tall like the trees, really feel your feet on the ground and imagine yourself being pulled up from above by an invisible current of energy. Feel your spine grow and lengthen, gently pull your stomach muscles in a little and feel your shoulders pull back and down. Allow a smile to emerge on your face and perhaps give yourself a little self hug, wrapping your arms around you body. Imagine your torso as a tree trunk, strong and solid and connect your inner strength.
Try this regularly, a few times a day, especially when you are feeling emotionally drained.
Like a tree’s roots, our values and connections help us stand firm in times of trouble. What are your values? It’s useful to think about this every so often. Life can pull us in different directions and before we realise it, we can find ourselves travelling a route we don’t feel comfortable with. Sitting back and thinking about what’s important to us, helps to check we are living life in line with our core identity. Our values drive our goals and in turn our activities.
I recommend the book ‘Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before’ by Dr Julie Smith, this includes an exercise on connecting with our values. Values influence who we surround ourselves with, by connecting with others who share our values helps us to feel understood and connected; we can also achieve more and make our voice louder.
3. Flex with the Breeze
Whilst the tree trunk is strong. its branches and leaves flex with the breeze, so pick your battles and realise that you can’t control or fight everything that isn’t right with the world. If we try and stand completely rigid against the gales of life it will be a struggle. We can’t control everything but we can do is decide how we respond. Accepting that things will go wrong and adjusting your path without getting angry or anxious is far more fun.
Living in Africa taught me this in many different ways. I couldn’t change the stifling heat in the lead up to the rainy season, instead I had to accept it. I just controlled what I could, keeping hydrated, doing things at a slower pace and being grateful when we had power so the fan worked! Sometimes it’s about finding strength to just let go and go with the flow.
4. Be Still and Listen
Trees stand tall and still. Take time to do the same, pause, listen, breathe, pay attention to the sounds, shapes, textures around you. Constant busyness is a great way of ignoring feelings but feelings are meant to be felt. When we pause and allow our emotions to surface, they become less daunting. Acknowledging emotions and trying not to label them as good or bad can be useful. Find a few minutes each day to pause and acknowledge how you are feeling? Writing down your feelings in a journal is a great way of becoming more in touch with your emotions.
Whilst we cannot solve the world’s problems, we need to find a way of processing the feelings we have and finding strength to move past them.
5. Grow toward your Goals
Trees grow naturally toward the light. Goals are our beacons of light, they keep us moving in the right direction, even when there are clouds and dark days. Sometimes everything feels on track, other days it may feel we are sliding backwards or feel lost. Each day the sun shines, if we keep moving toward our light, in line with our values one tiny step at a time this gives our lives purpose. It’s not just what we do but the way we do it. Accept that there will be challenges, try to approach them with calmness, knowing you will find a solution and finding strength to keep moving forward.
6. Tend to the Soil
Any tree will struggle if it’s roots are not in good soil. Remember that how we treat ourselves and our environment will either serve or hinder us. Eating nutritious, sustaining food, keeping hydrated, moving our bodies and ensuring we have ample sleep and rest are simply foundations of good health and wellbeing. Our mental wellbeing is equally important, this might be limiting the volume of information and negative news we are exposed to, being aware of stress levels and finding ways to react in a healthy way and reduce stress inducing situations.
Whilst there is much in the world that is negative, if we take care of ourselves and live with purpose and passion like ripples on a pond we can be happier and have more influence and impact than we realise. If you are feeling overwhelmed and feel you need help finding a new approach then arrange a free discovery call with me.