My life has fallen apart since lockdown. My relationship has ended and I have lost my job. How do I stay hopeful?
Life-altering events can be difficult at the best of times, and a global pandemic is absolutely not the best of times. So, before I begin this letter, I want to take a moment to say that I absolutely feel your pain. It is more than okay to feel sad, angry, hopeless, or any other emotions at this point. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling bad; that will just make you feel worse.
That being said, there are small ways that you can shift your mindset to bring some hope back into your life. First of all, take stock of the positives in your life. We often define ourselves by our romantic relationships and by our work, but we are all so much more than that. So, have a look around and see what else is going on in your life which can bring you a boost. Maybe there are other people who can support you through this tough time. Maybe you have a pet that you can pour your love into. Maybe you have a comfortable home where you can take solace with a book or your favourite TV show. Whatever you find, take note of it and use it as an anchor for the times when you feel hopeless.
Of course, unemployment can bring a host of stress, so try to tackle this first. Make sure you have some way to support yourself financially through the next few months. And, if you can, look at this as an opportunity to find a job which you will really love. Have a think about what you would like to do if you could do anything. Is it possible to make part of that dream come true? Covid-19 has changed remote working, meaning that you may now be able to work in places you had never considered before. A change of career or a change of (virtual) scene can be a source of huge pleasure which will help you to stay optimistic in difficult times.
With regards to your relationship, however it ended, break-ups are awful and this will sting for a while. However, take comfort in the idea that something better is ahead. Heartbreak teaches us all sorts of lessons about who we are and what we want. Try to listen to your gut and see this as a time when you can prioritise your own needs.
Finally, when we are feeling at our lowest, it is often good to look outwards and to consider how we can help others. Perhaps you could volunteer your time and talents with a local charity or write letters for Amnesty. You could train for a sporting event and raise money for a cause close to your heart at the same time. We are made to be connected to others and the world is not finished with you yet, so consider how you can make the most of your time to shine your light on those around you. I wish you luck on the journey ahead.
I’ll be answering your questions every week on my website. More advice columns are available here.