Why small victories matter in tough times

A child on a rocking horse ride at a playground.

I don’t mind admitting that I’ve been feeling down lately. We have the prospect of another six months of restrictions with coronavirus cases on the rise again.

Added to that, my job is coming to a premature end. It was originally supposed to last until the end of next year. That changed to the end of this year and then the end of October.

Since I found out, I’ve put a lot of effort into finding a new role. But, with increased competition, it’s not going to be easy.

Then there’s the time of year. Like a lot of people, I tend to struggle as it gets darker and colder in autumn and winter.

This isn’t meant to be a ‘woe is me’ blog post though. Far from it. There are so many people in the same position, so I hope what follows will be of use to others.

Now, more than ever is the time to really embrace small victories.

Take last week, for example. My new slippers arrived and I was delighted. They’re comfortable, warm and really well made. Plus they conform to my very strict selection criteria.

Yes, my entire demeanour was temporarily lifted by the arrival of casual footwear.

This is the kind of thing I used to feel a bit daft about. Because, on the face of it, how lame is it to be excited by slippers?

But it did the trick for me for a little while. Reframing my thinking to celebrate what are, in the grand scheme of things, trivialities has really helped me. A couple more small victories followed.

At the weekend, we went out for a family walk and ended up at an empty new playground. It’s usually too busy for our cautious tendencies so we hadn’t dared go in.

It was lovely watching the kids forget themselves and have fun. Even when the eight-year-old gave me a heart-in-mouth moment by jumping off a swing in mid-air.

Then, I achieved 100% completion on the Tomb Raider game I’ve been playing for ages.

Not just the storyline, you understand. All the collectables and unlockables too. Yes, I’m the epitome of cool and great fun at parties.

So there you have it. New slippers, an empty playground and helping Lara Croft find tatty old relics have boosted my mental health.

I’m under no illusions that things like these are light at the end of the interminable tunnel we’re all in. They’re more like little solar-powered garden lights. But they have the desired effect – giving reassuring highlights that punctuate the gloom.

The small victories I’m looking forward to this week are more family walks, pizza on Friday and maybe finding the last few collectables on Red Dead Redemption 2.

Which small victories have helped you lately?

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