Encouraging Yourself and Your People through Tough Times

Encouraging Yourself and Your People through Tough Times

In planning end-of-year content for the Greetabl blog, I knew I wanted to discuss the topic of “tough times” in some capacity. This year, obviously, has been grueling on people. And even that feels like an understatement. Many have lost lives. Many have lost jobs. And most have lost a bit of hope at one point or another. I feel the need to spread some encouragement, as I know our community has endured some especially tough times.

Ultimately, I am pretty lucky. I have an amazing job (no, I wasn’t forced to write that) and I haven’t lost any loved ones in the pandemic. While that feels like a low bar to set for life, I am thankful for those baseline blessings. 

But in stating the obvious, it’s a weird time for us all. Life is so very different in every aspect, and it’s hard to process emotions as we normally would. Even if we do consider ourselves lucky, the pandemic is affecting us more than we realize.

This realization began the other day after I got upset over something so minuscule. I was left feeling frustrated at myself. Why is this bothering me? In taking a couple breaths and a few steps back, I reminded myself that we are living in the middle of a global pandemic. Of course, I am bothered by things that normally wouldn’t trigger me. Of course, I am affected by things that do not typically phase me. 

In admitting that, have I established my credentials as someone worthy to write this article? Absolutely not. And in a weird way, I hope that brings you comfort and relief. I am no expert, I do not have this figured out, but I am trying. 

Here are my tips to get yourself and your people out of a rut: 

To Combat Your Bad Day

The tricky things about bad days during a pandemic are they seem to never end. If you have a challenging day at work, there is something refreshing in exiting the office. You have space to process on your commute home and get a “reset” when you walk in the front door. These days, work is home. Home is work. There’s not much of a transition between working and signing off for the night, which makes it hard to shake a bad mood. 

On the flip side, there is freedom in commuting to work when you have personal issues happening outside your 9 to 5. The same issue applies here, and it makes it difficult to feel any sense of “escape”. It all feels like one big, never-ending day. Not to mention, weekdays and weekends feel pretty much the same. We need to catch a break.

So what should you do? Here are a few ideas to shake up a bad day: 

  • Go on a walk. Changing your views and getting fresh air helps put life into perspective. Get outside and get moving.
  • Go on a scenic drive. The same concept as going on a walk, only a machine is doing all the work for you.
  • Put your work things out of sight when you sign off, and pull them out in the morning when you log on. Especially if you live in a small space or apartment, this is vital.
  • Take a warm shower or bath. (May we recommend this bath bomb to make it even better?)
  • Facetime a friend. Talking to a friend is like putting on an old sweater or your most comfortable pair of sweats. But oftentimes, we like to isolate and withdraw when we are going through something hard. Instead, reach out and let someone know you’re struggling. Of course, you might need some time to yourself. At least let a trusted person know so they are aware and can help when you’re ready. Think of it as being “on standby”.
  • Send a gift of encouragement. One of the best ways to shake a bad mood is to spread kindness to someone else. You’ll be distracted from the hardship going on in your life, and you never truly know how much someone else needs it. You already know where we are going… Greetabl makes it easy to send a little love, so get started here.
  • Listen to a podcast. Depending on your mood, podcasts can be used for advice through your problem or as an escape from reality. I turn to podcasts in order to laugh (Scrubbing In With Becca Tilley and Tanya Rad) or become a detective (Serial; Criminal). Every now and again, I stumble on Oprah’s SuperSoul.
  • Pump up the endorphins. We all know Elle Wood’s stance on this. Even more so with the pandemic, there are countless virtual classes you can book online. So whatever excuse you’re about to throw out (not wanting to exercise in front of others or no classes work with your schedule), consider it invalid.
  • Cook a meal. If you have the bandwidth, make your favorite recipe. Our version of cooking is HelloFresh, and that’s okay too.
  • Read a book. Because a little less screentime would be beneficial for us all. We’re glued to small screens, medium screens, and big screens all day.
  • Cleanse from social media. Instagram is everyone’s curated highlight reel, but if you’re not in the headspace to remember that, schedule some time away from the platform.

To Encourage a Friend or Loved One

The only thing harder than going through a tough time yourself is watching a friend or loved one go through a rough patch. It’s the ultimate feeling of helplessness. Though you’d do anything to take away their pain, you simply cannot.

We have a few resources dedicated to specific hardships (like postponing a wedding, supporting a sick friend, or helping a grieving pet parent). You’ll find that while the details vary, a lot of the same underlying principles apply.

At a high level:

  • Ask your people what they need. Let’s take the intimidation of it. You’re allowed to ask your people how you can be supportive. On an emotional front, you can ask if they need a listening ear. You can ask if they’d like advice or if they’d rather have an open vent session. Realize it’s not about pushing your own agenda forward or being the savior in the situation. You’re not a mind-reader!
  • Give adequate space to heal and process. Let your people know you’re there when you need them. Keep a regular cadence of checking in. Let them know you’re thinking of them, but fight the urge to smother.
  • Express empathy. If you’re anything like me, I like to throw logic at my problems. The problem is, logic is not comforting. Remember to allow your people to feel and process emotions on their timeline. As mentioned above, this year has been HARD. We don’t get to choose what bothers us; we don’t get to choose what bothers others. Capisce?
  • Send a gift of encouragement. Just like giving a gift gets you out of a rut, receiving a gift helps shake them out of a funk. We recommend sending an UberEats or DoorDash gift card. Sometimes, it feels too draining to cook. This will alleviate some responsibility in your friend’s life without being too clingy. Personalize your gift with a thoughtful message and pictures of your favorite memories. This will remind them better times have happened in the past, and they will happen again in the future.
  • Offer specific, tactical help. This is a bit harder with social-distancing, but there are still a million ways you can offer practical assistance. You only have to get creative! Text your friend (only if you know them well) and ask them to put their laundry on the front porch. You’re now contactless “wash and fold”. Even if it is just sheets and/or towels, which are virtually impossible to mess up. Drop off a home-cooked meal on their front porch. Offer to take their pet on a walk. Your person can put Fido or Lucy in the backyard and you can pick up from there.

Here’s a universal truth: you, your loved ones, your neighbors, and strangers all need a little extra encouragement right now. If you’re debating setting aside some time for self-care, do it. If you’re wondering if you should reach out to X, stop waiting.

Look for the helpers. If you can’t find one, be one.

Megan Golliver is the Marketing Specialist at Greetabl.