How to Shift Your Perspective During Stressful Times

How to Shift Your Perspective During Stressful Times

BIrds eye view of three people standing far apart from each other inside a circle diagramMost of us develop strong feelings when life brings us uncertainty and unwanted change. We may feel anxious, overwhelmed, sad or even angry. These strong feelings then can lead to irrational thoughts and actions such as having thoughts of self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, thoughts of quitting something, giving up, hoarding toilet paper or harming yourself.

In these challenging times, our focus often narrows a bit and we may get over engrossed in our problems.

Take the helicopter perspective.

Several years ago, I learned about a strategy called the “helicopter perspective”. The idea is that when we “pull back”, like visualizing the view from a helicopter in the sky, our viewpoint is expanded and we can get a more complete picture of the other aspects of our life. When we do this, we may discover some positive things about our problems or situation.

With today’s events, one scary headline follows another. So, it is especially important to practice this helicopter perspective a bit more now.

Maybe by pulling back you will:

  • See some parts of our world displaying compassion, courage and love towards helping one another
  • Begin to appreciate the roof over your head, the food in your pantry, your family and network of friends in ways you never thought about before.

I encourage you to take a few moments throughout the day and practice this strategy. Be mindful that our brain’s often hyper focus on the negative things, so you may need to be intentional about seeing the positive when doing this.

Look for the value that hardship has brought you.

The second idea I encourage you to meditate on this thought, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (Philippians 1:12-20).

For me personally, I struggle to find joy in my struggles. I want to live pain free and in comfort like everyone else. But, I also know that many of my past hardships brought forth valuable lessons. So, I often encourage people to attempt to find meaning in their pain.

A simple question to ask is “what could this struggle be trying to teach me?”

Maybe the current struggles in the world are teaching us to be gentler, kinder, more giving and loving towards one another. Maybe it is teaching you the need to grow spirituality or appreciate friends and family more. There is a lesson and it is up to us to be open to seeing it.

Take This Daily Challenge.

I challenge you to try practicing these perspectives daily during this crisis.

1. At least once per day, practice the helicopter perspective by pulling back from your problems, the headlines in the news and notice the good around you, take it in, appreciate it, embrace it and feel the joy. As you let it go, know that you can always return to those feelings if you start to feel overwhelmed.

2. Then in the evening spend some time in quiet reflection pondering the idea of how past struggles aided you in some way and how potentially current struggles may do the same. Write these insights down if you can, so you can reflect on them if need be.


Levin Neuman, LMSW, CAADCKevin Neuman, LMSW, CAADC, is a fully Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC), and has worked in the social work field since 1999. He received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and his Master in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. He has completed training as an acupuncture detoxification specialist.

Before coming to Pine Rest Retreat Clinic, Kevin worked at Ottagan Addictions Recovery as an outpatient substance abuse therapist. He has also worked at Hope Network Behavioral Health in the inpatient residential crisis setting and at Priority Health as a behavioral health case manager.

 

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