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Do you sometimes feel as though you are on a rollercoaster and you can’t get off?

Life is so full of ups and downs that sometimes we feel dizzy. I know I have often wondered when I can get off the ride. 

This is life. 

Life is a glorious mix of good times and challenges. Without the challenges we don’t learn and without the good times we might just give up all together.

In the words of Ronan Keating: “Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it!”.

Why is it though that the difficult times always seem to last so much longer than the good times?

Well, it is due to a simple evolutionary process which is designed to keep us safe but which can, if we don’t learn to control it, lead to the feeling that life is just one long pit that we are trying to climb out of.

Over many centuries our brains learned to remember the challenges and dangers we faced more vividly than the fun times. This is for the very sensible reason that very few people die or are seriously impacted by laughing or enjoying themselves. It is vital for our survival that we are able to remember when something causes us hurt, either physical or emotional though. Psychologists call this the negativity bias.

As a result we become more alert and take in every detail of the dips in the ride in an attempt to avoid that part of the ride if we see it ahead in the future. 

If only it was that easy.

Of course any pain always makes us more present and more likely to be on high alert, when we are soaring high and enjoying life we just go with the flow and don’t pay anything like as much attention to the things happening around us. 

rollercoaster

We are pre-programmed to feel that it can’t last, when life is good, and that “life is always hard” when we are struggling. 

I remember buying a new car a few years ago and within hours of buying it everything started going wrong. The two weeks it took to get everything sorted (the garage bought it back and I replaced it with a reliable alternative!) felt like the longest two weeks of my life. It’s the same when we are ill, time stands still. Yet when we are on holiday or having fun with our friends the time passes so quickly we wonder if it ever happened.

 Apparently the majority of parents have feared that something bad will happen to their child, while watching them sleep peacefully in their bed. It’s the way most people are wired. Statistically though less than 9% of the things we worry about ever happen. I’d play those odds with almost any situation. So what can we do to allow ourselves some mental freedom and ease our feeling that we are riding a never ending emotional rollercoaster.

 

Is there anything we can do to help us appreciate the good times more and diminidh the darker days? 

Mindfulness

Well, it won’t surprise you to hear that mindfulness is a great start. 

Ensuring that you are fully present whatever you are doing will help you to remember the good times more and you will start to balance the scales a little. (Read  Can being mindful ease anxiety? for more information)

Cut down your screen time

Spending less time on screens avoiding “real life” will also help. When we are going through difficult times we often reach for our devices and either get lost in social media or play games to distract our brains from what is going on. This may be an effective short term strategy, but if you’re not careful you then miss all the good things happening around you too. You have to participate in the whole of the rollercoaster ride to really be living your life. 

Gratitude

Focusing on feeling thankful, whether it is by writing down the things you are grateful for, or saying them outloud, will begin to teach your brain to look out for all the good things in your life. This will, over time, shift your focus from the upsetting, or depressing aspects of life, and you will learn to pay more attention to all the joy and blessings. Make sure you work your gratitude into your daily routine. 

Eat well

We know that our stomachs act as a second brain as far as mindset and mental health and what we eat really impacts our mood. If you are consuming lots of sugar, processed food, caffeine, and alcohol, you will find it harder to see the positives because you will feel tired, anxious and lacking in energy. When you feel this way it is much harder to find the joy in life. We comfort eat for the instant gratification but long term it just adds to the rollercoaster feelings and is really damaging to our wellbeing.

 

So, the next time you are going through some rollercoaster times in your life, stop and think about all the positives you can find. It may only be that you have a roof over your head and something to eat, but that is more than many people have. 

Remember:

This too shall pass.

 

 

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