Are you in the middle of an incredibly challenging situation with no foreseeable end? It feels possible to survive something when you know the end is around the corner, even more so when you’re given a timeframe. But how can you survive when there’s no end in sight to your challenges? And is it even possible to experience peace in the midst of it all?
Without going into detail (it’s not entirely my story to tell), I can assure you I know exactly how you feel. I’ve experienced every emotion and reaction possible.
I’ve rerun the situation through my head a million times in an attempt to somehow land on an answer. Friend, I’ve prayed until I’ve run out of words. And still…no end in sight.
But then, when I thought I couldn’t make it one more day, I experienced acceptance. And with it, an odd peace. And with that, the strength I needed to carry on and a marathon mindset to match it. Here’s exactly what worked for me.
Adjust Your Mindset When There’s No End in Sight
Live in the present.
I read a statistic recently that we spend nearly half of our waking hours either reflecting on the past or thinking about the future. That leaves only half our attention focused on the here and now.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m thinking about the future, it’s usually not in an exciting, hopeful way. I’m stressing about what-ifs and planning for the worst-case scenario. And a lot of my reflection on the past is centered in regret.
That’s why your best hope when there’s no end in sight is to focus on the present moment. Rather than asking how you’ll survive the next year, ask yourself how you’ll survive today. That feels much less overwhelming, doesn’t it?
Live more mindfully.
And practice being more mindful in each moment! Psychology Today defines mindfulness as “the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.” It allows you to accept the moment you’re in right now without allowing it to define and take over your life.
(Need help learning and practicing mindfulness? Be sure to check out How to Be More Mindful | 8 Secrets to Experiencing Life Instead of Surviving It.)
Find reasons to be thankful and choose to dwell on them.
When you choose to focus your attention on your negative circumstances, they’ll feel heavier and heavier. I know from experience!
Instead, find something for which you can feel thankful. Maybe it’s a friend or family member.
Or maybe it’s the fact that you have a roof over your head and food on your table. Many, many people don’t have those things!
The more you dwell on gratitude, the better you’ll train your brain to find the good in every circumstance and let go of the weight and depression that comes with dwelling on the bad. (Be sure to check out How to Become an Optimist With One Small Tweak to Your Morning Routine for more tips on this topic!)
Fill your mind with God’s truths and choose to dwell there.
I know what the situation looks like. But what does God’s Word say about it? They’re usually very different things.
Even when I feel hopeless, God’s Word says, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11, MSG). And while I worry about others bullying and coercing me, God promises that His plans will always prevail (Proverbs 19:21).
Fill your mind with God’s truths when there’s no end in sight. Start and end every day reading His promises. And when the appearance of your circumstances starts to stress you, loudly declare God’s promises over them.
It’s very similar to choosing gratitude. You have to choose to dwell on the truth of God’s Word instead of dwelling on the appearance of your circumstances. And you have to choose it over and over again, a hundred times a day.
Keep a Slow, but Steady, Pace When There’s No End in Sight
Eat an elephant.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu once said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” Like eating an elephant, your current circumstances might feel impossible to ever truly conquer. But they’re not, not if you take it one bite at a time!
So break down that huge challenge into small, bite-sized goals. Assign yourself just one small goal a day, something you know you can achieve.
When I was battling postpartum depression a few years ago, I set goals as small as texting a friend, spending five minutes outside, or starting my day with a prayer. While all of those goals are drops in the bucket when you’re trying to conquer something as powerful as depression, they add up over time in the same way snowflakes add up into a towering snowdrift.
Don’t worry about making huge leaps and bounds every day. Just focus on the next step, and then the next.
Remind yourself that it’s okay if you don’t smash goals every day.
Some days I clean my entire house, knock out every item on my to-do list, and make meaningful connections with others. Other days, my biggest accomplishment is simply making it to the end of the day without punching someone in the head. And that’s okay.
The trick to surviving when there’s no end in sight is to set small goals, work hard towards them, but allow yourself grace on the days you don’t reach them. Rather than beating yourself up and allowing that “failure” to define you, remind yourself that it’s all part of the journey. And while you may have high or low days, your journey is following an upward trajectory when you consider the big picture.
Take some time for yourself.
One small thing that brings me peace is taking a hot bath with loads of salts and bath bombs once a week. I sit in the bath, listen to the water run in the dark, and do absolutely nothing. And it seems to fill my cup for the day.
Another thing that feels like a treat is watching some of my favorite shows. Since I spend the majority of my day either watching my five-year-old or plugging away at work, I don’t have much time to watch tv. And when I do, my husband has very different tastes in movies.
So I’ve started taking a 30-minute break from work each day (I combine 2 15-minute breaks) to watch one of my favorite shows on my computer. I laugh, I cry, I escape to another time and place, and I come back feeling entertained and refreshed.
What brings you comfort and peace? What makes you feel most alive? Consider what small things make you feel cared for in big ways.
Have your answer? Now go do those things! Whatever you choose to do for yourself doesn’t have to be big, but it does need to be consistent if you plan on keeping your cup filled.
Share the Load When There’s No End in Sight
Be honest with family and friends.
When I was younger, I used to sugarcoat how I was really doing when friends and family asked. After all, I didn’t want to burden them or be some Debbie downer. But all I managed to do was isolate myself when I needed community the most.
Be honest with others. I cannot emphasize this enough. You don’t have to share the nitty-gritty details (unless you want to), but being honest lifts the weight of a secret off your shoulders and allows your loved ones to better understand exactly what it is you’re going through.
Ask for help when you need it.
Chances are good you could use some help in whatever situation you’re facing. Don’t be afraid to ask for it!
In fact, many of your loved ones likely know you’re struggling and want to help, but simply don’t know how best to help you. By making a specific request of them, like watching the kids for a few hours or picking up your grocery order, you’ll get the help you need and want most and they’ll get the satisfaction of knowing their help is actually helpful to you!
By adjusting your mindset, keeping a slow and steady pace, and sharing the load, you can not only survive when there’s no end in sight but even find peace in the midst of it. Did we miss anything? Please share what’s helping you find peace in the comments!
P.S. Looking for some practical tips to manage stress in the short and long term? Click here to download our free guide!
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