How to be hopeful, fulfilled and functioning when there’s no end in sight

We’ve said goodbye to life in lockdown and normal life is resuming.  Or is it?  The adrenaline-fuelled, all-hands-on-deck, “unprecedented times” have passed, but we’re still a long way from normality. In a time of crisis, we usually have the focus, energy, support and the cortisol boost to deal with it. And then we get the relief that it’s all over. Right now, it feels like that the acute phase has moved on, but we’re also not in a place where we can say “phew, so glad that’s all over.”  It feels like we’re in uncharted territory.  So, how do we stay positive in tricky times?

Pandemic Limbo

Life in limbo - dark clouds and mountains

It feels like we’re in limbo and, for many, that’s not a comfortable place. And you can see why:

“Limbo: an uncertain situation that you cannot control and in which there is no progress or improvement.”  (Cambridge Dictionary)

So many of us struggle with a lack of control, even if that control is really a bit of an illusion. And, without any sense of momentum, it’s easy to feel stuck and stagnant.

So what can we do about it?

Though very different in nature, I’ve been noticing some similarities with a difficult time in my past, when a much-loved family member had a slowly progressive, degenerative illness.

It was a protracted period of time that was often painful, sad and littered with hopelessness. There were no clear timescales; no chance of a positive outcome. It felt like carrying something grim around, 24/7. And yet I learned so much.  It brought many of my unhelpful beliefs into focus, and forced me to find new ways forward.

What I learned seems relevant right now so I’ll share some of it here:

7 tips to stay positive in tricky times

  • This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Use resources steadily so you don’t run out of steam.

  • Don’t let it become all-consuming. Yes, there’s a global pandemic and, yes, it’s grim.  But there is more than just coronavirus.  Keep focus on the other things too. Take balanced, informed decisions to mitigate risk and don’t let fear make life small.

  • Avoid taking on too much responsibility. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to fix everything.

  • Accept that we don’t have control over our lives, and work to be ok with that. As Mo Gawdat says, what we do have control over is trying to do all we can to make today a little better than yesterday, and tomorrow a little better again.

  • Make time for the things that are important to YOU.  Whilst thinking of the needs of others, make sure you don’t lose sight of that sense of self.

  • Find ways to keep some momentum.  Growth and development are still possible in a pandemic.

  • Keep it light. Wherever you can, bring in the fun, the joy, the laughter and the lightness.  If it’s missing, look for it or ask for some help to find it.

Bask in the warmth of the good stuff

These are my musing – I hope you find them useful.  I’m certainly trying to keep them in mind.  So much of life coaching is future-focused and about making changes.  That’s great, but sometimes our reality is having to deal with horrid stuff that we can’t change. It could be a chronic health issue, addiction problems, bereavement, a difficult relationship with someone close – the list goes on.

What we can change is how we respond, and how we let it affect us.  There are always ways to make things more bearable, and give our lives balance and respite to mitigate the impact.  We can bask in the warmth of the good stuff whenever possible, to take the edge off the rest.  We can take steps, however small, to make every day a little better.

This is a huge part of my life coaching – reach out if you need some help.

This blog has also appeared on the Thrive Global network.