Think honest – how well are you coping?

Years ago I was going through a situation with a horrible boss. My sleep was poor, my diet was wretched and my climb out of bed each morning was hell.

My best friend was on a course to secure a promotion in their job, so I had no relief from a face-to-face or a heart-to-heart, and could only settle for a long distance shoulder.

I thought I was doing just fine until a stranger in a packed tram looked me in the eye and said, “How are you today?” And I burst into tears.

In that ‘Aha’ moment (I wasn’t managing as well as I thought) I knew I had to talk to a professional. Tears freely flowed in my doctor’s office, and I listened to the good doctor as he talked me through mindfulness.

Mindfulness is an integrated cognitive behaviour therapy that encourages you to pay attention in a non-judgemental, non-reactive way to the events you are experiencing within the mind and the body.

The doctor did not give me pills or a referral to see a psychologist, just three days off work to manage stress.

This experience got me mindful of my reality.

I understood how to assess a bad situation, to recognise whether it was permanent and pervasive, and to what extent.

I discovered how to measure the options I had available to change a bad situation, or how I could adapt and cope, and thus mentally reconfigure that bad situation into a bearable one.

Here are a few tips to help you work through a negative situation.

Recognise it

Don’t overlook your physical or mental discomfort; you cannot fix a problem you haven’t identified.

Be realistic

Once you’ve acknowledged your bad situation and are conscious of the negative impact it has on you, do not talk yourself into fake optimism. The weather might be grotty and the air conditioning a real turd; if to cap it your workload is a menace and your boss is causing you grief, then how great a day is it?

Toll your bell

Know your window of tolerance. Don’t wait to be overwhelmed or for the grenade to explode before you think to do something. Talk through your situation with a trusted friend, and try and see it with an objective eye. Sometimes talking it out loud is all you need to kick-start your transformation.

On a scale of 1 – 10: how badizit?

If you’re a parent to a young child, you may know that our schools teach ‘howbadizit’ exercises to our little ones. Children are taught to understand the inescapable or permanent nature of a bad situation by rating it on a scale of ‘bad’.

Knowing your scale of ‘bad’ prevents undermining a sombre matter or blowing a pinprick out of proportion.

Work it off

Burn out your stress. Bash some tennis with a mate. Power-walk to a solution. Swim yourself to mental and physical equanimity.

Staying physically active not only increases your levels of fitness, vitality and morale; it offers an immediate benefit of feeling better. A 20-minute exercise daily will strengthen your immune system, lower your proclivity to high blood pressure, give you more than a dose of discipline and calm your nervous system so you can start to sleep better.

Empower yourself

Don’t fold under stress – put yourself in control. Take time to see with a clear eye what options you have available, and what interim solutions you can at once put in place as you find your way to a long term solution.

Seek professional help

Where all else fails, speak to an expert.

As for Boss Horribilis, I threw the job at his face and told him exactly where to stick it.


Image attribution – Pixabay: RyanMcGuire