After a traumatic event, people can sometimes feel as though there’s no hope. Also, life’s daily problems pile up and a way out can often seem impossible. Mending a broken spirit, however, is possible if you set your mind and heart to it. Focus on the positive attributes of your life and yourself to help you feel alive, joyous and thankful. This can also increase your energy as well as your drive to reach your goals in life.
Focus on the present moment. You can’t predict the future and you can’t change the past, so focus on each moment as it comes. This practice, called mindfulness, can help you become peaceful and content. “Being mindful means that we suspend judgment for a time, set aside our immediate goals for the future and take in the present moment as it is rather than as we would like it to be,” according to Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn in their book titled “The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness.”
Repeat positive self-affirmations daily. Write down 10 to 15 positive qualities about yourself. Repeat them aloud every morning and whenever you’re feeling down. In addition, write down things you want in life and repeat those daily. “The first action is to state your desire,” says May Sinclair, author of the book “Just How Do Affirmations Work?” She adds, “The second is to believe it is possible to have your desire fulfilled. The third is for you to be willing to actually have your desire fulfilled.”
Eliminate negative or self-critical thoughts. Realize that thoughts are only that—thoughts—and they don’t represent absolute truths. Many people who are sad or depressed read from the same mental script each day. They tell themselves they are unworthy or bad people, even though it’s not the truth. Over time, “without knowing it our thoughts become words carved in stone rather than words written on water,” say Williams, Teasdale, Segal and Kabat-Zinn.
Focus on the people, places and things for which you are grateful. “Count your blessings and you will find them to be countless, even in the midst of adversity and tragic circumstances,” say Robert A. Emmons and Joanna Hill in “Words of Gratitude for Mind, Body and Soul.” Meditate on what you’re grateful for, pray, write in a journal or tell the people in your life how much they mean to you.
Set a goal of doing one new thing each week. Focusing on a new adventure can lift you out of your doldrums. Choose something small such as surprising a neighbor with homemade cookies or brownies, or complimenting a stranger. Move on to bigger goals such as organizing a food drive or going skydiving. Be creative and do things that expand your spirit and things for which you can be proud.
Help others as much as possible. Volunteer at a nursing home, hospital, homeless shelter or other nonprofit organization. Even an hour or two a month can make a difference in someone’s life. Offer to help a friend move or assist a co-worker with a project. Lending a hand can help improve your mood over the long term.