I recently watched the movie All the Light We Cannot See. It is a story about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II. It was a most moving movie but the thing that stuck with me was the theme and title of the movie. My interpretation of the title of the movie is just because you can’t see or imagine something good in a situation, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
The stories of the two main characters, Marie and Werner, are worth telling because they, like all of us, are the light that matters, even in a horrendous situation. In a time of darkness, it is important to stay hopeful. To manage your negative and fearful thoughts that create stress, lower your mood, amplify the situation, and interfere in your ability to think clearly. It doesn’t minimize the seriousness of a situation, but it helps us take charge of the things we can control.
How do we manage our difficult emotions associated with dark times? Imagine you have a dial that controls your fear and negative thinking. It is like the knob on your car stereo. When life gets too loud or too hard, we can turn down the dial. You can participate in activities that improve your mood, relax your body and mind, and distract you. You will be more effective and have more choices when you are calm.
Here are some things you can do to turn down the dial:
- Lift your mood – Go for a walk, call a friend, play with the cat, dog, bird.
- Relax your body – Take a hot bath, get a back massage, stretch, and do exercise/yoga.
- Relax your mind – Tell yourself everything will be okay, imagine yourself on a favorite beach somewhere, listen to a relaxation app, practice meditation and/or deep breathing.
- Find a distraction – Do a crossword puzzle, make a complicated recipe, paint with watercolors, count backward from two hundred by seven.
When your nervous system is relaxed, you will be able to think clearer and see more possibilities. Perhaps you will be able to see some “light” in the situation.
When you are stressed, scared, mad or down and your mind is spinning with negativity, remember to turn down the dial.