Hope & Optimism

You might remember our previous blog post on the CHIME model, where we introduced the model and went into a little more detail on the importance of Connectedness. We also covered some simple things that we can do to increase our feelings of Connectedness, especially during these trying times. Well, today we will talk about the next element of CHIME in a similar way. The H in CHIME stands for Hope & Optimism for the future, and what better time is there for us to think about that as things look like they’re taking a turn for the better. Not only does it seem like the end of lockdown is in sight, but the weather is starting to improve, and we can almost say that spring is sprung!

Let’s be honest, it’s been a long, hard year for us all and there has been dark times where the future was a scary thought and even returning to some kind of normality felt too overwhelming to consider but as I sit here in the sun typing out this little blog I am filled with Hope and Optimism about the possibilities of what’s to come. The challenge is that when our lovely UK weather turns back to cold, wet days and we’re cooped up inside longing to be allowed to see our family in the next few months, how do we cling on to the Hope and Optimism that comes so naturally on these brighter spring days?

The CHIME Framework (developed by Leamy et al) separates Hope & Optimism into the following sub-categories:

· Belief in possibility of recovery

· Motivation to change

· Hope-inspiring relationships

· Positive thinking and valuing success

· Having dreams and aspirations

So, let’s think about each category in a little more detail…

BELIEF IN POSSIBLITY OF RECOVERY in this instance, can mean a few things. We can talk about it in a sense of our circumstances returning gradually to something that looks like “normal”. For example, restaurants opening, families being allowed to gather again and being able to hug our loved ones knowing that we’re not putting them in danger. Or we can think about it in a personal sense, this pandemic has knocked a lot of us off our feet whether that be in terms of your physical health (no one enjoyed binge watching Netflix & shoving Doritos and wine in their face as much as me, and it shows!) but also in terms of our mental health. Either way it would take a pretty special person to come out of this pandemic exactly the same way they went in! But, we must believe that the struggle we have felt throughout lockdown is not our new normal, it doesn’t have to be, and we are more than capable of recovering from the effect lockdown has had on every one of us. If anything, you may be stronger now than you were before and what better time to make the changes that you’d been putting off for so long?

Try to think of the transition out of lockdown as a clean slate and an opportunity to rebuild your life in a way that serves you well. This leads us nicely to our second sub-category….

MOTIVATION TO CHANGE, it’s all well and good to say that of course we are strong enough to recover from the less-than-ideal year we have had, but we must have the commitment, desire and motivation to work hard on doing so. This journey to our new “normal” is unlikely to be an easy one without struggle, but starting today we can take some small measurable steps along that path...For example;

1. Commit to going a half hour walk everyday now that the weather is improving…

2. Make sure you set out 10 minutes to work on your mental fitness whether that be journaling using an app such as Headspace or Calm…Or even raising your awareness by reading these ramblings in our weekly blog.

3. Practice a new skill or make a point of taking a break from your social media and read a non-fiction book for half an hour.

My point is that these little manageable chunks need to be achievable in order to keep you motivated and moving forward! If they’re unachievable they will become chores and will leave you feeling demotivated when you’re unable to complete them.

HOPE INSPIRING RELATIONSHIPS, for you this might just be time that you spend with family that you’ve taken for granted in the past. It might be a chance to be present and take a minute to share stories and learn more about each other rather than being too busy to actually have a meaningful conversation. It could be people that you meet through hobbies, work or even charity work. You’ve all probably met someone or know someone who restores your faith in humanity, a real good person, you know the ones! Well make sure that you gravitate towards these people in your life and even try to take a leaf out of their book. In times like these we need to fill up each other’s buckets, not drain them!

Think about that last sentence for a minute… Imagine that we all have our own bucket and inside that bucket is our energy, not just in a traditional sense but think about positivity and happiness and generally feeling good. The fuller your bucket, the better you can cope with the things that life will inevitably throw at you and vice versa.... You’ll know what things (and people) fill your bucket and what drains it, so try to keep it as a full as possible! Which is where our next sub-category: POSITIVE THINKING AND VALUING SUCCESS comes in.

Try to remain positive, choose to take positive thoughts on a journey and to leave the negative thoughts behind. Try some reframing, for example instead of saying “that’s a problem” tell yourself “that’s a challenge”. Problems have a heavy and negative quality to them, and problems bring us down, where-as, a challenge has intriguing and enlivening qualities, and we see them as a positive thing. Remember what we said earlier about the small manageable chunks? These also fall into valuing success… yes, they may only be minor victories but celebrate them because gradually your manageable chunks become bigger and there are more of them, instead of a daily half hour walk you’re training for a 10K for charity… Start small and give yourself credit, starting small is better than not starting at all!

And finally, have DREAMS AND ASPIRATIONS. Take 5 minutes to think about your future, what do you want your life to look like? What aspirations do you have? Thinking about these things acts as a Why question. They are the reason that you’re doing all the things we’ve just spoken about on a day-to-day basis (even on the days that you struggle). If we know why we are doing something, it becomes a lot easier for us to commit to it. You might not love those half hour walks we talked about earlier (especially when it’s cold and rainy) but if you can create a bigger picture in your mind and remind yourself WHY you’re doing them, it will become easier to push yourself to get out and do it. If you dream of climbing a mountain, the first step is buying a pair of walking boots and if you won’t even commit to that, then it’s not really a dream after all is it? Decide what you want in life and make sure that the things you’re doing on a daily basis are moving you closer to those goals.

Take 5 minutes after reading this blog to think about we’ve talked about in relation to your own life, make a plan, commit to small steps towards a better future and remember that if you find this mildly interesting, drop us a message to find out some more. Have a look at our Mental Fitness Toolkits on this website too (I’ll link them below!). They contain a few handy tools that will help you make a start on the things we’ve covered in today’s blog.

Have a great week and remember, better things are coming!

Toolkits are here:

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