Seeking sunshine: Finding light in dark times
We all go through ups and downs. For some, the downs become really dark. It’s hard to find any light. During these particularly difficult times, dark thoughts can overwhelm us. It can feel like life is pointless. Meaningless. We might not be able to see a way out.
No matter how dark everything feels, there is light hiding somewhere. But sometimes it takes some seeking out.
Things that make us laugh or smile can be subjective. We’re all different. If something gives us a moment of respite and doesn’t harm anyone else, then it doesn’t matter how silly it might seem. There will be things that make others smile, but not us. Some might take more energy or thinking power than we have right now. That’s okay, too.
Finding light in little things
When everything in life feels altogether too much, looking for groundbreaking positives might add to our overwhelm. Sometimes, tuning in to the little things can offer sparks of light that help us through.
We could find light in teeny tiny things. A ladybird that lands on our arm. A text from a friend that gave us a smile. Or having our favourite snack with a decent cuppa.
We don’t need to look for life-changing lightbulbs, just sparks.
Finding light in nature
When we’re losing faith in others, and the world seems unkind, zoning in on nature can help us find a little light.
Take a moment to spot the sunrise. Notice how raindrops turn the world upside down. Stick a bird feeder up in the garden and watch them whilst doing the washing up. Get to know the regulars –
the robin who trusts us a little more each day. Or the blackbird that waits by the window for their breakfast.
We could set ourselves a personal challenge to spot one new thing each day. Or to spend a minimum of 60 seconds outside daily.
There are lots of wise, wonderful people in this world who say wise, wonderful things. Many of us have a favourite quote or three. They might be from a book, song, film, or a list of quotes we found online. Looking up quotes on a particular topic can help us to see things from a different angle. We might find it helpful to write them down, draw them, or make them our phone background.
Nice things from nice people
We might be lucky enough to have people in our lives who help us smile. Holding onto that, in whatever format works for us, can help us through rough patches. A selfie snapped on a good day out. A drawing that our friend’s two-year-old did, or a card sent by a family member. A scribble, memento, or set of tickets from a good day out.
Rather than abandoning them in a pile or drawer, pop them up in regularly-seen places. Above the kettle. Over our desk. By the front door. Litter our living space with little things that remind us that we are loved, even when we don’t feel loveable.
Children say and do the funniest things. They’re good at finding light in unexpected places.
If we don’t have little ones ourselves, we might have friends or family members who do. We could also ask them to send us funny clips or stories occasionally. Offer to babysit or have them over for tea if we live close enough. Maybe we could arrange a video or phone call with them. They might be up for sending us a drawing.
It’s okay to ask our friends and family if we can be involved in their children’s lives. Lots of parents are proud of their youngsters and enjoy sharing smile-worthy bits and bobs!
Some of us are animal lovers. Building a relationship with an animal can be rewarding in a relatively low-pressure way. They’re often happy to see us and notice if we’re not around. But they also don’t expect too much of us – just our love and respect (and the occasional treat!).
If we’re not in a place to adopt a pet, then we could look at schemes like BorrowMyDoggy. We could also get to know the regular visitors to our garden or local park.
When we’re in a dark spot, treating ourselves is often one of the last things we want to do, but it can help us find a little light. But we can treat ourselves even when we don’t feel very treat-worthy. It doesn’t have to cost the earth. Snuggle up in a favourite blanket. Re-watch comforting TV shows. Cook a favourite meal. There are lots of little things we can do that make life more bearable. Being in a dark spot doesn’t mean that we have to be miserable 100% of the time.
Media we love
Books, films, art, poems, TV, and music can help to carry us through. Media can comfort, warmly hug us, provoke happy memories, make us cry (when we need to!), make us laugh, or even just distract us for ten seconds. It can give us the words we don’t have to explain what’s going on. Whether it’s a guilty pleasure or the latest popular drama, if a piece of media helps us to feel even slightly better for a moment, it’s worth digging out.
Finding light in funny online things
The internet can be a not-so-great place, but it can also provide lots of joy. Look up bloopers. Funny clips from favourite old sit-coms. Videos of cats acting cat-ish, or elephants being cheeky. Check out ‘good news’ websites. Find one little piece of light, one smile-worthy thing each day.
Something to look forward to
When life feels unmanageable, having something to look forward to can be a bright light in the distance. Plant something and wait for it to poke up out of the soil. Plan a future event. Arrange to meet someone next week, or book a gig or event for a few months. Maybe a new series of our favourite TV show is due out towards the end of the year. An actor we love might have a new film coming out next Summer.
It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as we’re looking forward to it.
Things we can do
Sometimes, when life feels devoid of meaning and our existence seems pointless, trying to do something that helps others can help us to find a sense of purpose. This is a tricky one – we often have to be in a well-enough place to manage it – our well-being has to come first. But if we are at a point where we want to try new things or meet new people, then we could look for local volunteering opportunities or activities in our local area. We might discover we have a totally unexpected talent!
Note it down the light we find
Some find it helpful to record the light they find. People do it in different ways. Some write three good things a day. Others write a daily good thing on a slip of paper and pop them in a jar to go through at the end of the year. There are artists, photo-takers and writers keeping records in different formats. We might not have much energy, but even one or two words in the notes app on our phone can jog our memory on the days when light feels impossible to find.
Finding light doesn’t replace support
It’s often helpful to tell someone if we’re struggling – a friend, family member, or someone else. Sometimes, we need professional help, and that’s okay. We can seek out sunshine, and find a little light alongside professional help if that works for us. Finding even one teeny tiny spot of light each day means that no day can be 100% dark. It can make the air a little easier to breathe.
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