5 Tips for Calming Your Mind in Tough Times

See also: Relaxation Techniques

In 1959, a poor agricultural laborer lived in a village called Gehlaur, near Gaya in Bihar, India. With little or no social amenities, the inhabitants of Gehlaur had to trek about 34 miles to the nearest town to access basic amenities. Standing between them and the access was a huge, rocky mountain, which they had to either climb or go around.

One day, the laborer’s pregnant wife was taking lunch to her husband who worked across the mountain (of course they had no McDonald's) when she fell and sustained some injuries. The nearest doctor (in the neighboring town) was still some 35 miles away, so unfortunately his wife died from injury complications.

Filled with grief and sorrow, this man decided to put his indignation to good use. He embarked on a quite unthinkable project. What project could a poor agricultural laborer embark on at such a peak of emotional distress? Well, the most unthinkable of them all – to carve out a path through the ridge of the mountain so that his village could have easier access to amenities in the neighboring towns, particularly medical care. With no knowledge of mining whatsoever, no experience in craftsmanship, what tools did this man have that made him attempt something so improbable? Well, all he had was a chisel and a hammer. Were these tools sufficient? I think not.

However, he had the best tool to accomplish any desired task. While he was mocked, he was scorned and, in fact, the people he was trying to help called him a lunatic when he began to hammer the hill, he had sufficient resolve. He had the willpower required to complete the task. After 22 long years, he had carved a path 110 meters long, about 7 meters deep and 9 meters wide, which reduced the journey to the neighboring town to only 9 miles (less than a third of the previous trip).

He died in 2007 and was given a state funeral by the Government of Bihar, and 4 years after his death, in 2011, they eventually built a metal road to Gehlaur.

This man – Dashrath Manjhi – is today known today as the Mountain Man, having forced his way through his circumstances in the most difficult situations. You too can become your own mountain man today. If he could do it, then yes, you can too.

The above story parallels the current situation of the world in relation to our personal lives. Like the mountain before Mountain Man, suffice to say that today the current pandemic stands between us and our total well-being. Many of us are out of work, relying on insufficient stimulus checks and unemployment insurance, with sparse health benefits from the government. Many have lost a relative to the pandemic, just as Mountain Man lost his wife. It's hard to be yourself and be happy with the cumulative effect that the pandemic has had on our work, health, finance, emotions, and family.

What is mind blowing is that all living things share the unique ability to adapt to changes in their internal and external environments. In humans, this character is especially well developed and useful in our day-to-day life, although, more often than not, we consciously do not recognize this. But this does not make this less of a truth. So, with recent events, how can we stay sane and productive in our everyday lives? That is the very essence of this piece.

Nothing is permanent. Not even tough times, not even a pandemic. If we keep reminding ourselves of this, it will help us stay calm and positive. Just as with other tougher times, 'this too shall pass'. Try remembering a recent or previous situation you faced when it looked like the world was crumbling around your feet; you may have felt so overwhelmed that you could not wait for that moment to pass. Here's the truth - that moment is now past! Here you are, having survived that challenge. It is no different now, although we need a good mentality and positive approach. It is true that you cannot determine your circumstances in life. However you can determine if you let them get to you or not, if you let them decide your happiness or not. This decision is totally up to you.

Here are five vital things to do:

1. Focus

There is so much on the outside that is clamouring for our attention, so much, maybe much more than we can give.

It is important we focus on the energy from within that keeps us going. No one has actually had it easy on the outside. From success story to success story in various fields or careers, from business to academics, from medicine to sports, from politics to literature, all 'the greats' have different stories to tell.

Despite the fact that we are living in an era that is being defined by the constant distractions of online marketing and advertising, there is one thing that always remains consistent. In every one of the success stories, one element was always crucial - Focus. The fact is that all ‘the greats’ had to stay focused in the middle of turmoil, and you can too!

Gradually, one step at a time, you can learn to direct your energy to the good things inside you rather than those things outside not within your control.

2. Little Ceremonies

These cannot be overemphasized. Just like therapy to the mind, celebrations, no matter how small, help us to realize and appreciate the little things in life - and to be grateful we have them.

Are you a cat or dog lover? Spend time with your pet, no matter how little, as it can be so relieving. Are you a lover of nature? Like spending time on a beach or watching the sun set into its 'chambers'? Do you love flowers? Watch the scenery and the beauty of the world regularly.

Only positivity can conquer negativity and when we channel our energy to appreciate the little things in life, we become more positive inwardly and outwardly. Schedule a little time every day to focus on the things that you love and, day by day, you will discover a shift from the negativity. Your outlook will become more appreciative, maybe not on the first day, but gradually day by day.

3. Move

Well, what has that got to do with my outlook? Everything! Therapists always note that the pathway to depression is usually catalyzed by a sedentary lifestyle.

Do not sit all day mooning over what is or what is not. Mooning is sadly but truly not going to change anything. Move yourself. Change your physical location by going for a walk with your pet, or with a friend or alone. You could go cycling or hiking, hunting or fishing, whatever works for you.

Look at your schedule and determine what physical activity would help you become active at least a couple of times during the day. With the average worker being sedentary for the majority of the day, lower activity levels are obviously not good for your health. Making out time to work out or take a casual stroll, or even a run, could really help.

4. Your Kid

Think about it this way, imagine that your little kid was going through a tough time, maybe because of the loss of a parent (your spouse), or having been diagnosed with a terminal disease or an unpleasant medical condition, or through being bullied at school. How would you offer emotional support to your child? How would you be there for the child when they need you most? That is the answer.

While we hardly ever advise ourselves, let alone follow our own advice, put yourself in the child's shoes and consider what kind of relief and help your advice would provide. We are usually the kindest souls to children in times like this: they may even see us as angels so now show this level of compassion to yourself. You are worth it also!

5. Inspiration

This is like a battery recharge to our brains. The more inspiration you get, the more inspired you are to continue. What inspires you may not inspire others, but we all are inspired by some things or some people or some events. We can lean on these to gather strength on a day-to-day basis. Your mind is the engine room of your life. Recharge and strengthen it through daily and continual inspiration.

The answer is within! Don't look too far, for the mind of a person can make them a victor or be vanquished. Apply these tips today and enjoy a happier life and blissful moments. Thank you!

The Skills You Need Guide to Stress and Stress Management

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Stress and Stress Management

Understand and Manage Stress in Your Life

Learn more about the nature of stress and how you can effectively cope with stress at work, at home and in life generally. The Skills You Need Guide to Stress and Stress Management eBook covers all you need to know to help you through those stressful times and become more resilient.

About the Author

Vision, Belief, Change inspires people to live the life they want, through opening their minds to new perspectives and possibilities, and providing them with practical tools for achieving their goals and dreams.