During times of turmoil, the last thing we want to hear is to “stay positive”; especially if we are dealing with feelings of deep pain, uncertainty, despair, and hopelessness. We are all entitled to feel. We can’t pretend that our emotions don’t exist because they’re real and part of the human experience. But emotions, like thoughts, are fleeting; and we get to decide if we’ll allow them to become permanent hosts or quick passengers in our minds.

If we wish to have any control over our lives, we must be equipped to face any challenge. Life tends to test us in ways that force us to grow. It can throw us into dark caves without providing us with any guidance or guarantee that we’ll ever make it out. But maybe, the challenge is not to escape the cave but to learn to adjust and live peacefully inside of it.

What we think of as a “challenge” always depends on our perspective. Ideally, we want to perceive all hurdles as merely stepping stones leading us to our highest potential- although this is easier said than done. I can’t tell you to pretend that life is perfect and difficulties don’t exist because that would be a lie. Obstacles do exist, and we are all allowed to complain, cry, and grief as we go through them. But we cannot linger in that mentality for too long. We must quickly shift gears if we don’t want to become targets of depression.

So what can we do in the face of hopelessness? Let’s look at some powerful tools that can be of great help in case we are struggling to stay afloat:

1. Meditate: Find some time for yourself throughout the day to sit quietly with your thoughts for at least 3 minutes. Can you see what’s disturbing you? Unless you become aware of the negative thoughts that are bringing you down, you will keep recycling them and falling into their never-ending cycle. Noticing your thoughts will bring you clarity and understanding of where your suffering is coming from, which you can slowly counteract with higher affirmations.

2. Set up a schedule: Build yourself a schedule with a to-do list for the day. This will maintain you busy and working on yourself. Have a checklist for every activity you accomplish. Visually seeing your triumphs will make you feel fulfilled and proud of yourself (even if they’re as simple as getting out of bed).

3. Journal: In a blank notebook or on your phone, write down what you’re doing with your time every hour. This will make you think twice about wasting away your days in activities that don’t serve your well-being since you physically have to write down how you’re spending it. Journaling is also a great incentive to work on yourself

4. Keep inspiration close: Whether you watch free uplifting videos on YouTube, read self-help books, or follow inspirational pages on social media, surround yourself with as much positivity as you can. Remember that there are people out there who have lived through similar situations as you, so they understand you and can give you advice. The internet has lots of great resources so take advantage!

5. Exercise: I know this may be the last thing you want to do. You may feel like crying all day or screaming as loud as you can, but draining your emotional energy is not the answer. Instead, you can try exercise and benefit from its natural high. You don’t have to do any strenuous work. Just get your body moving. Science has proven that exercising every day can give us the same effects as taking anti-depressants, so why not release some negative energy in a natural and healthy way?

6. Find an outlet to express yourself: Sometimes, the best way to release our emotions is by bringing them into the physical world. Think about how you liked to express yourself as a child. Was it through art, a sport, a hobby? Get back into it. You don’t have to become a professional; just think of this as a fun therapy to let go of some built-up emotions.

7. Get in touch with nature: Go outside. Refuel with the warm energy of the Sun. Ground yourself by walking barefoot and letting Gaia take care of your worries. Nature can give us a free cleansing and help us quickly tune into ourselves. This also includes surrounding yourself with animals—their pure hearts can rapidly uplift our spirit!

8. Surround yourself with people who love you: We may be drawn to spend time by ourselves when we are feeling down. Alone time is great for introspection, but during these times, we don’t want to become too comfortable being alone as depression tends to roam closely. Talk to your family or your friends. Allow them to comfort you even if it’s just by sharing some company. Love is a powerful potion.

9. Develop the habit of gratitude: Even on the darkest nights, there will always be something to be thankful for. Set up a reminder to practice gratitude every day. Write down a few things that you feel grateful for, even if on some days you can only think of the food you ate and the roof over your head (which are things we should never take for granted). Though you may be going through a difficult time, you’ll realize that you are far more blessed than you think.

10. Accept your emotions: Accept that your pain is present but that it will pass. Don’t brush off your emotions. They’re showing you deeper parts of yourself. Become aware of what you feel while consciously working towards a path of healing.

Staying positive can be a constant battle, but deep inside we all have unimaginable strength. Like everything in life, this will also pass. Sooner or later you will realize that the challenge you’re going through was preparing you for something much bigger than you ever thought possible. You are being sculpted. You are exactly where you need to be. Your soul is learning the lesson it needs in order to grow into the next level. And while this may not be easy to understand right now, don’t forget that you have 100% streak at getting through life’s challenges thus far. Which only means that if you keep going, you will certainly make it through this time.

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