10 Ways To Boost Your Inner Strength During Challenging Times
As you know running a business and nurturing your family is a real juggling act, as we work to keep many plates spinning smoothly in order to pull off and sustain the perfect performance. But what happens when life throws us a curve ball and we have no option but to drop a few plates?! Well, this is exactly what happened this January when I experienced a family bereavement.
I felt emotional and overwhelmed by the situation and to begin with I didn’t know which way to turn, but what I did know is that I wanted to be in the best position to continue to look after my children, support my extended family, who were hurting too, and also continue to teach my regular yoga classes. This wasn’t a time for me to fall apart, but instead a time to nurture my inner-strength.
I’d like to share 10 strategies that helped me maintain my energy levels, clarity of mind and a light heart. Before we dive in, it’s important to note that we’re all individual and unique so what works for one might not work so well for another. The best thing is to tune into what resonates with you and leave the rest. If you take one thing from this short blog, that’s enough!
1. Remember, you’re stronger than you think you are.
Sometimes it’s not until hard times hit that we realise what we’re actually capable of. I never imagined for one minute that I was capable of getting through all that I have in such challenging circumstances. Useful to know!
2. Show yourself some compassion and speak to yourself like you would to your child or your best friend.
When I felt like I was failing, disheartened or said something that I perceived was wrong, I would say to myself – ‘you can do this’, ‘it’s normal to have fearful thoughts, but you’re not your thoughts’, ‘you’re only human and humans make mistakes’, ‘you are coping’, ‘focus on what you have done, rather than on what you haven’t’.
3. Take a teaspoon of honey before bed.
Honey supresses our body’s ability to produce hormones associated with stress and the fight/flight response, which are not so helpful when it comes to relaxing the body and getting to sleep. I found this to be incredibly soothing before bedtime.
4. Make exercise a priority.
As you are probably aware exercise generates endorphins, the happy hormone! At demanding times exercise is often the first thing that goes out the window. Yet achieving 10-15 minutes of exercise a day will buy you more time, because when we feel happier, we make better decisions and are more likely to find it easier to prioritise and plan our day more efficiently. And, all the better if you can get outside to exercise because nature naturally soothes and balances us on many levels.
5. Our emotions are a guide – honour them and allow them to pass.
Not all emotions feel good but what they do, is make us aware of how we’re reacting to a situation. Ignoring or denying our feelings is the fastest route to anxiety and depression. Instead of bottling things up, I made space in my day to process my emotions – good and bad. I cried, talked with a trusted friend or family member and journaled. If I hadn’t then negative emotions would have driven my thoughts, words and actions. From experience, I know it’s better if I am connected with my heart before I say or do anything.
6. You are so loved and receiving help and support is a sign of strength!
Your friends and family want to and are willing to help you and there’s certainly no weakness in asking or receiving that help – in fact, it’s a strength. In receiving help from friends and family by way of babysitting, collecting the children from school, a home-cooked meal, a listening ear and even borrowing a rice cooker, I felt supported, loved and it certainly relieved some pressure. I felt so much better for it and when I’m in a better place, I’ll be able to return that kindness at a later date and I look forward to doing so.
7. Maintain a sense of humour and look for the light in the situation.
When times are challenging it’s not unusual for life to get a bit serious. It’s OK to laugh in the midst of struggle and when we do it feels amazing. No matter how bad things are there is always something good to be found – if it’s not obvious, simply be willing to see the light and you may find that something more positive reveals itself to you.
8. Stick to your routine as much as you can.
Maintaining day-to-day normality has forced me to get out amongst other people and ‘normal’ life, where at times I could’ve just curled up with a duvet over my head. Seeing familiar faces, my children enjoying school and activities, connecting with my yoga students, as well as making packed-lunches, hoovering and so on, has provided some respite from the situation and allowed me to get perspective for when I return to it.
9. Business-wise, prioritise and keep it simple.
Do ‘the things’ that are absolutely essential and delegate as much as you can. Let your clients know that you’re working with some challenging circumstances at home (without going into graphic detail) and that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. That way there’s no shock to your clients if you ‘drop a plate’, they feel involved and valued and on the most part will most likely be understanding.
10. Take a breather.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll no doubt be familiar with Luke Skywalker’s ability to connect with ‘the force’ before he takes action. In remembering ‘the force’ he creates space to recognise that everything he needs in that moment is within him and is working for him. We have the ability to do this too, when we take a step back and connect with our heart by taking a few deep breaths.
There are a host of other things you may find helpful in challenging times, but these are a few that have helped me.
Any situation good or bad is there to teach us and supporting ourselves with strategies like these will only strengthen our inner resolve, help us learn and grow from the experience and help us to navigate a more peaceful, joyful and constructive path through any situation.
I’m a yoga teacher specialising in pregnancy and postnatal yoga (which also means mums at any stage). I have recently launched a ‘Prana Mamas’ Facebook Group for new mums and mums-to-be, to offer loving support during this transformative time in life. The group is a kind and supportive community which offers information and weekly videos capturing yoga sequences, motherhood chats, birth stories and more. The videos can also be found on my YouTube channel.
Follow the links if you or a friend or family member is interested in finding out more about these new useful resources, ‘Prana Mamas’ FB group for Pregnancy & New Motherhood and the ‘Prana Mama Yoga’ YouTube channel.
With much love,