Sometimes life isn’t kind, and it’s hard to focus on your job or your personal projects. Here are some tips to help you work through difficult times.
Just a few weeks ago, my husband and I were involved in a hit-and-run accident with an 18-wheeler. It brushed the side of my Honda Civic and sent us spinning across the highway and flipped us onto the grassy shoulder.
Thankfully, we sustained only minor injuries, but our vehicle was declared an “obvious total loss” by our insurance company.
I’m looking forward to freeing up the space in my brain that has been occupied by this accident. It puts pressure on everything else I have to think about: my personal life, full-time job, freelance projects, and graduate work. I don’t have enough mental energy to give the needed attention to each of these things because the accident keeps overshadowing and crowding them out.
But even when this accident blows over, I know something else will be thrown my way. It seems like life is always trying to trip me up, trip you up, trip us all up. However, I’m learning to change my perspectives, and the first thing I’m choosing to do is replace the worries with gratitude.
Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)
I’ve been struggling with anxiety since the accident, and my husband’s night-shift job has exacerbated the situation. It’s difficult for me to sleep, let alone focus on work right now.
I was telling my parents about my struggle, and my dad suggested focusing on the miracle of safety and fostering gratitude toward God for protecting me and my husband during the accident.
So that’s what I’ve been trying to do — foster gratitude for the miracle of safety.
When people ask me about the accident, I praise God for protection. There is something shocking about being the recipient of a miracle, and it isn’t a great feeling. It feels like an out-of-body experience. I shouldn’t be walking or writing or speaking or laughing.
Yet I’m here because of God’s protection, writing with just a slight ache in my back. It isn’t that I’m not thankful or feel undeserving. I just feel shocked and slightly awed.
The conversation with my parents made me think of the song “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” by Irving Berlin.
When I’m worried, and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
I think those lyrics are going to be my motto for this year. I’m going to count my blessings before I go to sleep instead of recounting my worries from the day, and I hope each day will get a little easier as a result.
Practically, counting your blessings looks like keeping a gratitude journal or speaking prayers of gratitude. Personally, I found that keeping a journal was a good way for me to keep the blessings of each day at the front of my mind. Writing things down really solidifies the good in my mind and gives me a way to go back and recount blessings from the Lord.
Adjust Your Expectations
Over the past six weeks, I’ve found that the best way to focus on work is to lower my expectations for myself. Usually, I’m a very quick and efficient worker. I write and edit quickly. I always make sure to make edits and keep projects moving as fast as possible because I know deadlines always close in quickly.
So I’ve been showing myself some grace and adjusting my expectations. I’ve been intentionally communicating with my supervisor and letting her know I might need help with some things or may not have things done by the end of the day. And guess what? It’s okay.
Sometimes, the expectations I have for myself aren’t the expectations others have for me. If I need to slow down, it isn’t going to inconvenience anyone terribly or change their opinion of my work. I’m still producing quality work, but I’m taking my time and allowing myself to think and feel and draw my attention back to the task at hand if my mind wanders.
It’s been difficult getting back to work after the accident and the holidays, but I’m slowly hitting my stride.
I’m not sure what life has for you at the moment but know there is a season for everything. While many of us want to experience uninhibited creativity, that isn’t always an option. It’s okay to be run down. It’s okay to experience both the good and bad parts of life.
I hope you’re able to adjust your expectations and find reasons to express gratitude to God through difficult times. What are you thankful for today?
Learn more about Emily here.