In the space of just a few months, life as we knew it has completely changed. Since COVID-19 began to hit countries all across the world, daily routines have imploded. None of us–myself included–quite know what the next few months will bring.
Fear, uncertainty, change; it’s a perfect, disastrous recipe to start feeling pretty horrible.
And on top of all of these negative emotions, many of us are trapped at home without access to friends, jobs, and activities that we would usually turn to, to help lift our spirits.
If there’s any time that it’s especially important to stay positive, it’s now! But staying positive can be easier said than done.
How do you look at the bright side of things when so many parts of your daily routine have changed – and not necessarily for the better?
I’m going to share with you six of my favorite tips for staying positive during tough times.
Hopefully these simple tips will help make lockdown less stressful.
And if you have other tips for staying positive during lockdown, we’d love to hear them. Afterall, we’re all in this together!
Accept what you can’t control.
Most of what’s going on right now with COVID-19 is out of our hands.
As much as we wish that the situation were different, it’s not. And spending time wishing that we could change things that are out of our control will only make us feel frustrated and helpless.
So instead of wishing that the situation were different, focus on the things that you can control.
You can’t control the actions of millions of people around the world.
You can’t change something that’s already happened. But you can control your own actions.
You can control your attitude. Decide to wake up with a smile on your face.
Choose to make the best of your day.
Set goals for yourself and stick to them.
Do what you can to stay safe. Instead of wasting time worrying about things that you can’t change, redirect your energy to the things that are in your control.
And then let everything else go.
Stretch and breathe!
I’m a huge believer in the life-changing power of a few deep breaths and a full-body stretch.
I’m not even talking about committing to full yoga class or daily meditation (although that would be fantastic, too!).
All it takes are a few moments to close your eyes and fill your lungs.
Move your body, stretch your skin, and get the kinks out of your muscles.
Maybe you choose to start your day with a few deep, lung-bursting breaths.
Maybe you take ten minutes to stand up from your desk and touch your toes.
Or maybe you put on some music and dance around the kitchen while waiting for the water to boil.
Any kind of breathing and stretching will do the trick!
Try it. Right now.
Stop reading for a moment.
Take a long, slow inhale in through your nose. Exhale just as slowly and deeply.
Wherever you are–in bed, at your desk, on the couch–reach your arms above your head.
Clasp your fingers and stretch from side to side.
Keep breathing deeply.
Listen to your body; no fancy stretches, just do what feels good!
Take one more deep breath in through your nose, then sigh your exhale out of your open mouth.
How do you feel? Admit it– it’s pretty incredible what 30 seconds of breathing and stretching can do!
I’m trying to avoid cliches here, and reminding you to ‘stay positive and be thankful’ is definitely a cliche.
But I feel pretty strongly about this one, so I’m going to include it anyway. No matter what the situation is, no matter how terrible or frightening or hopeless it seems – try to find something to be grateful for.
Although we have a lot to be frustrated about right now, there are also things that each of us can be thankful for.
And focusing on those things can help make the situation feel lighter.
They can help remind us that even in the dark, there is some good.
If you’re a writer, you could make a list of things that you’re thankful for in your journal. If you’re a parent, ask your kids to share what they’re thankful for over dinner.
Or simply come up with a few things to be thankful for before you fall asleep each night.
Maybe focus on the big things to be thankful for, like running water, a warm place to live, or healthy family members.
Maybe take a moment to appreciate the simple things, like a good book, the birds chirping outside, or a beautiful sunset.
Whatever it is that you’re thankful for, acknowledge it. Celebrate it. And notice that when we fill our lives with appreciation and light, the dark corners don’t seem quite so dark.
Sleep on it.
Over the years, I’ve found that a good night’s sleep can cure many things.
Whenever I lie in bed at night feeling unsure, anxious, or upset about something, I remind myself to ‘sleep on it.’ In the dark of the night, after a long day, and with a tired mind and body, things tend to look even more bleak than they might actually be.
Worries are magnified. Stress is more potent. Negativity is more difficult to push away.
But in the morning, after a delicious night’s sleep, things don’t seem quite so bad. In the new light of the morning, last night’s stress seems far away.
And even if the same worries are still there, at least you’ll have a rested mind and fresh energy to face them!
Plus, getting a good night’s sleep is vital for our overall health. During sleep is when the body recovers and repairs itself.
And being well-rested can boost the immune system, concentration, emotional health, athletic ability, and so much more.
So, when in doubt… sleep on it!
Limit the bad news.
It’s important to stay informed and connected. Watching the news and getting updates from friends and family is great.
But with modern technology, it’s so easy to take it too far.
We’re surrounded by technology. Between our phones, computers, and televisions, we get constant updates on what’s going on around the world.
It’s amazing that it’s possible to stay connected and informed at all times. But when so much of the world is facing a difficult situation, it means that we’re being bombarded with sad, frightening, and sometimes depressing updates.
It’s hard to stay positive when we’re constantly faced with bad news.
I’m not recommending that you avoid the news. Staying informed is important. But it’s just as important to clear the air and smile.
Set limits for yourself. Instead of checking social media sites every few minutes, set certain times during the day where you’ll look for updates.
Don’t leave the TV running all day, where you’ll have a stream of information always in the background.
Maybe choose a feel-good movie instead of a fear-inspiring apocalypse flick. Take a break from the news and watch a silly cat video on YouTube.
Turn off your phone and turn on some uplifting music. After all, there’s only so much tough news someone can take in one day!
Remember that it’s OK to be sad sometimes too!
Being able to see hope in a tough situation is an incredible survival tool.
Positivity can help pull us through even the darkest days. And finding ways to stay mentally and emotionally healthy in times like this make the difference between just getting through each day and really living.
However, that doesn’t mean that we have to be positive 100% of the time. If we’re not happy 24 hours of every day, it doesn’t mean that we’ve failed.
It’s OK to feel sad, or frustrated or scared sometimes.
Embrace the fact that we are human, and that the range of emotions that we can feel is incredible.
Only seeing the positive side to every situation isn’t realistic. It isn’t real.
So sometimes, embrace the storm clouds.
Acknowledge what you’re really feeling. Feel it. But then don’t let yourself get sucked into waiting for the sun to come back out on it’s own.
When you’re ready to come back and make the best of your day again, pull out your umbrella and go dance in the rain.