My husband and I were walking home from the grocery store when we started talking about a trip we were on this summer. We had recently gone to visit his family and he started telling me about his view from the airplane window on the flight home. Our flight home was pretty rough- the clouds were dark and ominous and the turbulence pretty bumpy. He went on to tell me how from his view he was able to see not only the storm but also what was above the storm. Above the dark clouds was a beautifully clear sky with the sun shining. I found this conversation impactful because it felt like a picture of what life feels like with the tension of joy and pain always around us.
You don’t have to look far to find darkness. Things like depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship issues, job stress, etc. are all around us- just like the storm on that airplane. Shifting our perspective of course doesn’t remove the real storm (although that would be nice…), but it does remind us that the sun and storm coexist, which is a perspective that is easy to forget in the midst of it and with a ground view. It may sound cliché to say, but I want to remind us that the sun is still shining even in the midst of the storms of our lives. Let’s make our way to remembering that above the darkness there is always light.
If you are finding yourself in a season of darkness that feels unbearable, first I want to commend you for continuing to show up and persevere. It is so very brave of you. Second, here are some tips to help shift our perspective and help us feel some warmth again.
· Connection: tell someone you know and trust how you are feeling. There is nothing worse than isolation in the midst of a dark season.
· Recreation: find something you enjoy where you can move your body. Exercise is not only important for our physical well-being but also our mental and emotional health. Go for a walk, take a yoga class, join a gym, find your favorite hiking trail in the city, jump on a trampoline… whatever it may be, find it and do it often.
· Gratitude: research shows that gratitude can decrease depression. Choose gratitude and especially so on the days where it is hard to find something. Keep a gratitude journal- write down the date each day and list the things you find yourself feeling grateful for. I’m always surprised by what I come up with
· Get Curious: pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. The messages you tell yourself every day are powerful. We have many thoughts every day- some helpful, others not so much. Get curious about those messages. Are they kind and uplifting or harsh and condemning? Create a short phrase for yourself when you find harsher and condemning thoughts flood your mind (ex: I am enough; I am worthy; I am growing; I am right where I need to be) and get curious about where those thoughts might be coming from. Is there a part of you that needs nurture or care? A part that feels neglected? Counseling is a great place to process these thoughts and feelings.
· Professional Help: find a counselor- one that you feel comfortable telling your story and concerns to. Sometimes the help we need is found outside our immediate circles. Check out the counselors at Perspectives or ask us for a referral. We are ready to help you move towards healing.
We are all on a journey- one filled with inescapable joys and pains. The tension is in learning to hold both at the same time. Give some of the things above a try and see if it may help shift your perspective and move toward the life longed for.
Peace to you all.
Jenny is an adolescent, college student, and women’s therapist who is honored to enter the difficult and tricky areas of life with her clients in order to find freedom and wholeness.