Flourishing in the 'Credit Crunch'
I was musing about the Credit Crunch recently and all the negative, emotive reporting and consequences that are around on the subject.
As a specialist in stress management and having been made redundant twice in the past, I was pondering about this issue and wondering where I could help people, whatever their challenges may currently be.
There are often periods during everyone's lives which are not comfortable places to be - especially perhaps if you've recently lost your job and are concerned about your future financial security.
However, it's often these dark periods that give us the most opportunities to grow and learn and the results long term, can be extremely fortuitous. You may even remember occasions in the past when things have seemed insurmountable and later in life, you have looked back in life and realised that if you hadn’t been through these challenges, you would not be where you are now and enjoying the changes you see all around you.
So, for those who find themselves in a challenging situation at present as a result of the Credit Crunch (or in fact for whatever reason), remember that we need the darkest skies for the stars to shine at their brightest and there will be huge potential for you to get something wonderful from this situation in the longer term, if you are prepared to look for the stars and focus on the positive.
To help you maintain a positive focus, the following is my 10-point plan to flourishing in periods of apparent turmoil.
1. First of all, be aware that, whilst the global markets are clearly somewhat erratic at the moment and this does have some knock-on effects, a lot of reporting in the media is sensationalist and exaggerates some of the issues involved. That’s what sells newspapers and keeps us tuning into news channels.
However, repeated exposure to messages of doom, gloom and fear sink into our subconscious and affect how we think, feel and behave as a result. In fact, it’s negative belief which has caused the current financial instability in the stock markets. When we engage in and connect with these negative situations, we become anxious, fearful and depressed. Once we’re in this mindset, where we only see the negative, we stand the chance that the resulting fear helps us to make our worst fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’m not suggesting you stick your head in the sand, but be aware of how much time you spend watching and reading articles which focus on the negative aspects of the current situation and notice how they make you feel. If you find yourself being brought down by these items, limit your exposure to them and recognise that what is being reported is only part of the picture and ‘dramatised’ to attract more readers and viewers.
For some trades at the moment, this is a time of boom. Shoe menders, for example, have been said to be ultra busy because people are repairing their footwear rather than buying new, which could be a positive thing in itself! Could there possibly be an angle for your business at the moment which would create new opportunities for your company or is there something you could change about the way you currently do business that can capitalise on the current market conditions? Try and think laterally and see what comes up for you – it could change your fortunes.
2. Balance any negative messages by becoming engaged in more positive activities and thoughts which will help bring things back into balance. For example, make a list of what is right in your life at the moment. Remember those things we just take for granted but actually are a real blessing and benefit to us. For example, if you have a healthy body, that’s a great thing and something to be thankful for. If you have access to clean water and nutritious food, that’s also good. The fact that we have efficient sewage systems or perhaps that we are able to travel, write and speak freely are things to feel good about. Good friends and family are something to be extremely thankful for. Once you start to think about it, you’ll realise that there’s an increasingly long list of things to be happy about even when things aren’t going entirely as planned.
Spend time each day sitting with your list and remembering what’s good in life. Try to add at least one item each day, even if it’s only that someone smiled to you on the tube or paid you a compliment. It’s a simple, but extremely effective practice.
3. Try not to become engaged in negative conversations at work or with friends. This just serves to keep your focus on what’s going wrong and contributes to feelings of anxiety and fear. If someone starts a conversation about how dire everything is, you might want to acknowledge it for a minute or two, but perhaps you can change the subject or ask a question which helps the others in the group to focus on something more positive. If that’s not successful, you might want to leave the room after a while or try to explain politely that you’d rather keep a positive focus as you find it more productive.
4. Remember that there will always be things you come across in life that are challenging. However there are some things we have the power to change and some things that we have less control over. Learn to take a step back from situations and understand those things you can directly affect and those that you can’t. If you can influence things positively, then take what action you need to take in a considered manner. If your conclusion is that you can’t directly affect the current situation (for example, in the case of decisions being made about redundancy), then accept that all you will be in control of is your reaction to whatever happens.
This is where choice comes into it and if you are in unfortunate circumstances, you can choose to feel sorry for yourself, hurt, bitter and upset or you can choose to try and get the best possible outcome for yourself out of the situation and look at what opportunities this situation might afford you.
5. Although at times things can appear to be unresolvable and give us challenges to deal with, remember nothing ever remains the same. Our world and everything in it is constantly changing and therefore whatever you are dealing with at the moment – good or bad – will eventually change. Try and look for the potential positives. For example, do your reduced hours at work mean that you are able to spend more time with your family in the short term? Could a change of job give you a chance to re-examine your life, your career, your mortgage etc and make changes which may even in the long term give you an opportunity to work things in a way that you enjoy more and which work for you better? If you find yourself with more time on your hands, perhaps this is a time to review your life, where you're at and where you want to be headed? Is there something you've been longing to do and haven't had the opportunity to put it into action? Perhaps this is the ideal time to start working towards that goal and it's a chance to change direction?
Maybe you've rarely had this much time to yourself and you can take the opportunity to chill out a little and look after yourself before you launch into the next period of your life. It's often the periods when we stand back and take stock that our best ideas come to light and we become clearer in our thinking.
6. Even if money is tighter than it has been, you can still have fun – and it’s important to do that! When you look around, there are lots of things you can do for free – galleries, museums, parks and so on. Home cooking can help hone your cooking skills and will probably be better for you than eating out in restaurants or take-aways where you don’t see what goes into what you’re eating. Get together with friends at your home or theirs and get everyone to bring a dish and their favourite piece of music to share, do some voluntary work or something else that is constructive and will occupy your time.
7. Exercise is an excellent way of relieving stress and anxiety, as well as helping keep your body and mind active! If you find yourself worrying about your future, go for a run, a long walk or a swim; go to a dancing or yoga class.
Rather than dwelling on what’s going wrong, distract yourself by reading or watching something that makes you laugh or doing a crossword, sudoku or other puzzle. Make yourself a playlist of all your favourite music on your iPod or cut a CD with your favourite tracks. Music is tremendously powerful and can help enhance your mood and relieve anxiety and nerves.
8. If you find yourself becoming anxious, fearful or negative and start turning things over in your mind, dwelling on what ‘might’ happen, tell yourself out loud or in your mind to ‘STOP’. Take a few very deep breaths and ask yourself, is what you are worrying about actually happening this second? If the answer is no, then remind yourself that you are safe and fine at this moment and that all is well and change your focus to thinking about something positive. If the answer is yes, ask yourself the best way to get through this situation. Imagine two roads ahead – one you will go down if you choose to be negative and allow yourself to indulge in self-pity and will only have one likely outcome and the other you will go down if you choose to pick yourself up, take responsibility and start looking for the positives. I promise you, they will be there however dark things appear to be just now. Choose the road you want to go down and commit to taking at least one small step every day to resolving your current challenges (whatever they are). Things will change and you’re more likely to see the light at the end of the tunnel quickly if you can have a positive approach.
9. It’s easy when life is challenging to look for people to blame for our misfortune and dissatisfaction. But it’s important to be aware that, whatever goes on around us, there’s a part of us internally that is always peaceful, quiet and calm. Take time every day just to chill out. Find somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down and switch off the phones (anyone who needs you urgently will leave a message). Close your eyes and breathe by extending the abdomen as you breathe in, leaving lots of room to take in nourishing oxygen. When you exhale, pull the abdomen in and keep breathing out until there is no air left. Notice how your muscles have to relax as you breathe out and be aware that breathing in this way helps calm and detoxify us. After a few breaths, return to your normal breath and remind yourself that you are safe and all is well. Connect with the centre of your heart and allow yourself to feel peaceful. If your mind wanders, just return your attention back to your breath. Studies have shown that even 2 or 3 minutes of this type of relaxation each hour, improves our efficiency by up to 15%. Relaxation also boosts our immune system, helps regulate our blood pressure, helps us think more clearly and has many more benefits.
If you need help with this, you might want to use a CD or download recording that will take you through the process. I have written and recorded several stress-related recordings which helps with stress, insomnia, anxiety and so on. You’ll find them at http://www.breathingspacetherapies.com and click on ‘Go shopping’ at the top of the page. Or e-mail me and I’ll send you a free “Quick Fix Relaxation” breathing & relaxation audio which takes only 10 minutes!
10. The outcome long term can be surprising and may not be what you envisage, but it could turn out to be far better than you ever imagined, so give it a chance. If you need to seek professional help to support you and to give you non-judgmental, confidential, objective advice at this time, seek it and if you need to negotiate a reduced rate if funds are tight, then try it!
Whatever is happening right now may be just what should be happening for you and could be the key to a much more positive and successful future. The long term result can pay huge dividends if you’re willing to take responsibility for your thoughts and actions and adopt a positive attitude. Everything works itself out in the long run, so good luck and keep smiling!
Breathing Space Therapies & Breathing Space for Business
0772 581 8884
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