Number 20 – 5 steps to positive thinking
Like many people, I found the late October and early November incredibly tough. The nights setting in, combined with the extended period of almost complete isolation and the generally hopeless state of affairs in my industry (theatre and the arts), left me feeling pretty low about everything.
So, I made a few proactive changes and these five things have definitely helped me to cultivate a more positive outlook. None of them are especially ground-breaking or unusual but they might just help!
Now, I know what you’re thinking – blooming hippy. (And, yes, I am currently sporting a man-bun). But I’ve spent just over a month doing guided meditations with Balance (an app that currently has a free one-year trial) and I have to say, having started with some scepticism, I really look forward to my 10-15 minutes of meditation every day. I use the techniques to help me sleep – very successfully – and to bring me greater calmness during the day.
I started running in the first part of lockdown and felt the benefits but lost my way slightly after completing the Couch To 5K programme. Now, I’ve just gone back to the start of that programme and am really enjoying seeing the improvements. Running for just 20-30 minutes, 3 times a day, really helps blow the cobwebs away. I highly recommend investing in some leg warmers and an undershirt, as it’s hard enough to motivate yourself to go out in winter without being freezing too. It also helps if you share your goal of running three times a week with a friend or partner who can help motivate you.
At my lowest point this year, writing was one of the few things I could do. Not necessarily coherently and most of it hasn’t been shared with anyone, but the simple act of writing something every day, never fails to help clear and order my thoughts. Hence the challenge, that I’m now 20 days into, of writing a blog every day until Christmas. So far so good!
Now, this is a little cheesy and I cringed a little the first time we started doing this, but my fiancée and I have started asking each other, before going to sleep, what we are grateful for from the day. It is a bit corny, but it really does help you appreciate the things you have rather than constantly dreaming or agonising over the things you have not. It forces you to take a moment to appreciate and be grateful for the people and things in your life that you might otherwise take for granted.
A side effect of noticing what you are grateful for, is a desire to give and help others yourself. (There is science to back this up, but I won’t go into it now as this isn’t that type of blog). Shifting your perspective from ‘where can I take’ to ‘where can I give’ is incredibly powerful and can help you view work in a completely different way. As a freelancer, you are often so focussed on where you can get the next job that you can get locked into a cycle of ‘who can I get money from?’. Instead, simply looking around for the people who you can help with your skills and experience, makes that search for a client or the next job all the more positive.
So, there are five little things that have helped me over the last month or so. I hope they help you to achieve a more positive outlook too.