The past two years have been challenging to say the least. Between people losing their jobs, businesses going under, and the medical condition of the world threatening our freedoms, it’s been a significant amount of trauma for us to adapt to as a collective. On the positive side of things, if anything, the last two years have taught us the power of resilience.
But surviving isn’t enough. Making it through is not a way of life. So how can you learn to be at your best when bad things are happening to and around you? How can you show up for yourself to make sure that you’re in the best possible position to be nimble and pivot as necessary, but also stay in alignment with who you really are?
These are the secrets to staying at the top of your game when life gets extra challenging.
What it takes to be at your best
When life has a season that drops you to your knees repeatedly, the very first thing you want to do is go back to basics because when things get tough, your mind defaults back to your most engrained coping habits—ranging from counter-productive to dangerously destructive. This can look like cutting back on sleep, bingeing TV shows for an escape, and isolating yourself from others. People also tend to eat comfort foods like mac and cheese, fried chicken, and ice cream that makes them feel safe but doesn’t actually support their bodies.
Having moments of these things is okay. Everyone needs a break sometimes. But if these have become your main coping mechanisms, it’s time to go back to basics so that you’re supporting a strong, healthy nervous system that can help you manage the stress.
Things like eating nutrient-dense food, getting high-quality (and enough) sleep, and caring for your body well are important factors in your stress management, as well as keeping yourself adaptable. Caring for your body can look like a lot of different things. This may mean going out in nature for a bit every day, getting massages to help release tension from your muscles, or exercising so that your body is strong enough to handle what life throws at you. Pay attention to the activities that make your body feel supported and build those into your schedule as non-negotiables.
To take this to the next level, build in practices that take care of your mind and manage your energy. Your mind affects your body. If you want your machine to run properly, you have to take care of its operating system—your mind. You can do this through journaling, meditation, conversations, personal development work, and learning new skills to keep your mind in tip-top shape. Likewise, you need to pay attention to your energy and how you spend it. There are certain things that will cost you more energy than others, even if those activities take the same amount of time. For example, it may take you less energy to read a book for an hour than it does to have a conversation with your mother for an hour. When you understand how you spend energy, you’re able to craft your days more intentionally so that you don’t overspend one day and rob yourself of energy for the rest of the week.
All of these things will strengthen your base so that when things go wrong, you have the best chance at handling them.
“Your reality is as you perceive it to be. So it is true, that by altering this perception we can alter our reality.” -William Constantine
On top of having a solid foundation, you need practices in your toolbox that can catch you in an emergency. Those practices you can do when things hit the fan and you need help now. Our two favorite categories of emergency catches are grounding and breathing exercises.
If you haven’t taught yourself to consciously breathe, you’re likely a shallow breather. That means you breathe into your chest without inhaling fully. Proper breathing goes deeper into the belly, making the diaphragm move. This is how you properly oxygenate your blood, body, and brain. This matters because deep breathing can actually help you release stress, which promotes a healthier immune system. Breathing exercises like laying on your back, placing your hands on your lower abdomen, and breathing into your hands to push them away from you for a count of eight on the inhale, hold for four, and exhale for eight will help you develop deeper breathing habits.
Grounding exercises are also great in emergency situations. In times of trauma or stress, people can disassociate from their bodies. This means that the world may not feel real to you, it can seem as if you’re outside of your body, or you may not be experiencing reality as it truly is because of the disconnect from the feelings of your body. Things can go blank and your mind can refuse to focus. If you struggle with these things, grounding exercises can help you by bringing awareness back to your body. This is especially important to note if you find yourself in the space of needing to make a decision. Your body gives you information through your feelings. If you’re disconnected from your body, it becomes difficult to read those signs which can lead to making misaligned choices or having a skewed perspective. By grounding your body, you reconnect to its messages and can make better choices.
One grounding exercise is to sit comfortably and every part of your body that is touching the floor, imagine it growing roots into the earth. Imagine those roots pull in the nutrients and nurturing of the Earth’s pulse, as you bring your awareness to your breath. Feel what it’s like to breathe deeply into your belly. Pay attention to how your rib cage expands. Then consciously start to release any tension you feel in your feet, then your calves, then your thighs, and work all the way up your body. By putting your focus on your body, you bring yourself back to the present moment and fill up your vessel.
It’s important to remember that not everything needs a response now. Coming from a place of calm is better than operating from a place of fear or anger. If your emotions start tipping that way, these are powerful exercises to implement into your toolbox.
The daily energy practice that is often overlooked
There are powerful ways to shift and direct your energy. One of the most overlooked practices that you can implement is the power of the spoken word.
Your voice has resonance, which means that you can command your energy to focus in a specific way using your voice. Remember, your mind is the facilitator of body health. So when you take time in your day to take your thoughts and put them into spoken words to direct energy, you can create change.
For example, if you feel tired you can command energy to refill your energy levels. If you feel like there is negative energy in your space, you can command that energy to leave, and for the space to be filled with bliss and peace. Keep in mind that you must believe in what you are saying for this to change your reality.
This takes time and practice, and that’s okay. Results come from consistent action, and this spoken word energy clearing will create results the more often you use it.