When I feel stressed or anxious about something, I make it a practice to set aside some time, analyze the situation and find things I can be grateful for. The global pandemic crisis can make anyone feel anxious or stressed—especially with no end in sight. With so much uncertainty on the horizon, it can be difficult to stay positive and hopeful for better days to come. Which is why it’s more important than ever to try and find the silver linings.
Here are a few ways that help me stay positive during these uncertain times.
1. Start a gratitude practice
Starting a gratitude practice is one of the best things you can do for wellbeing, during a pandemic and in general. It takes very little effort and the benefits are incredibly powerful. But don’t take my word for it. Research shows that cultivating a daily gratitude practice is strongly associated with reduced stress and anxiety, better sleep, stronger relationships and overall greater happiness and self-awareness.
Schedule time each day to write down 3 things you’re grateful or excited for that day. I find that it’s easier to maintain the gratitude habit if you schedule it at the same time everyday. It only takes 5 minutes or less a day to write down what you’re grateful for and what you’re looking forward to that day. I use a journal for this—my favorite is The Five-Minute Journal. Another option is the 52 Lists of Happiness journal, the ultimate journal if you love lists. This one is great if you find it hard to come up with things you’re grateful for. It helps you figure out exactly what makes you happy by filling out curated topics.
It can be challenging to think of things you’re grateful for, particularly when you’re going through a tough time, but trust me, it gets easier each day, as you train your brain to look for the positives. Reminding yourself of what or who you’re grateful for is also a great way to put things in perspective during the pandemic.
2. Spend time with your family and friends (virtually)
Research shows that spending time with family and friends is important for happiness (this applies to introverts too, by the way). Your family and friends are your support system, there to help you feel supported and loved, especially during challenging and tough times. Depending on where you live, accessing that support may be restricted at the moment. Get creative and find ways to spend time with family and friends virtually. Set up a virtual video dinner, a game night or a hang-out. If you’re in a relationship, you could schedule a double-date with another couple over zoom. You can all cook and eat dinner together over a bottle of wine.
3. Change your scenery
Travel restrictions and social distancing have made changing your scenery and getting a mental break in this way a little bit more challenging, but it can still be done. If you’re working from home, find some time to take a walk around your neighborhood or local park. Or if you prefer to stay at home to avoid any risk, spend time in different areas of the house. The goal is to keep things fresh and change your surroundings often, so you don’t feel stuck in the same space every day.
4. Pursue that passion you’ve always wanted to
One thing I am incredibly grateful for during this pandemic is having more time to indulge in my passions. In the past 5 months, I’ve spent more time in the kitchen cooking than I have all of last year. I’ve mastered several recipes and dishes I never thought I could make. I also found the time to start a passion project that I had been planning for a long time. Since I’ve been working from home during the past 5 months, I’ve freed the many hours I used to spend getting ready in the morning and on the daily commute. The work and life changes that came with the pandemic have given me the opportunity to pursue the passions I didn’t have time for during a normal work week.
5. Be a guiding light to someone less fortunate
Helping others can be a good break from focusing on our own worries. Plus, it feels good. I have family and friends who lost their jobs or struggled to buy food for their families since the pandemic started. We can all aim to be a source of hope and comfort for others who are doing it tougher during these trying times. It can be as simple as editing a friend’s resume, sending a food basket to someone who can’t afford a nice meal, or setting time aside to call a family member or friend who lives alone and may be feeling lonely.
I’d love to hear some of the ways that you’ve been staying positive during the pandemic. Comment below with your thoughts.