Staying positive and optimistic during times like these can feel impossible, but it’s vital to your physical and mental well-being. With the limitations to our lives caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, even the most cheerful of people may be having a hard time staying positive. Remaining optimistic in the face of social distancing and isolation, constant news and social media scaring about the virus, concerns about employment and possible loss of income, general uncertainty about so many things requires so much deliberate effort and continuous mindfulness.
It's long been thought that there is a direct correlation between overall health and optimism. Most would agree that optimists are happier than pessimists, and happiness is better for your overall mood than unhappiness.
Focussing on our mood in today’s pandemic environment should be a priority to us all. Remaining calm and constructive at times of uncertainty can help us navigate through difficulties and find a path towards our much stronger selves.
Here are some things you can do, starting today, to improve your positivity:
1. Exercise. It's so important to incorporate exercise into our daily routine now more than ever. If you’re already pretty active, you’ve probably made necessary adjustments to keep exercising at home instead of at your usual gym or classes. If you’re not regularly active, now is the perfect time to make exercising a priority and incorporate it into your day. Try Pilates or yoga. if you want to challenge yourself, go for High-Intensity Interval Training. Aside from its physical benefits, exercising releases endorphins - your happy chemicals in your body which triggers feelings of positivity, so include an exercise routine into your day, even if it’s only a short one.
2. Feel Grateful. Even in these strange times, there are things we still have for which we should be grateful. Make a point of regularly noticing both significant and small items for which you are thankful. Important things can include your home, your health, your family, your friends, your ability to put food on your table, and other essentials. Small things are more momentary pleasures, like a hot cup of coffee, a calming bath, a good book, or a funny meme.
3. Slow down and relax. Enjoy the slower pace, one of the benefits of social isolation is your ability to pace yourself and let go of some usual anxieties. Don’t rush into things, including any conclusions about information you’re getting from the news or things you’re hearing from family and friends. Try and practise mindfulness. You can do this by trying to remain as present in the moment as possible. Focus on the details around you, like scents, and sounds. Quieten the noise of your thoughts, focusing on the breath can help with this. Be aware of your muscles, and if you’re tensing up your jaw, or your shoulders, or if you’re frowning, breathe and relax. Practise doing quick checks of the body throughout the day. From the crown of the head to your toes, be aware of your body, your muscles, and your breathing. This also helps make mindfulness an easy regular part of your daily life.
4. Practice calm breathing. If you've never had meditation into your life, try practicing lots of short mindful breathing sessions throughout the day. Try to step aside from other activities to focus on this. Early in the day is a great time to start. Also, just before you go to sleep. What makes calm breathing an excellent meditation exercise is the focus it asks you to place on your breath. Focus particularly on a long, slow, out breath. By remaining engaged on how to breathe super slowly, your mind is less likely to wander back to other thoughts, making it a great relaxation practice for beginners. There are also other benefits to calm breathing, like lowering your stress hormone levels, lowering your heart rate and helping you relax
5. Be in control of your digital self. Just because we’re all practicing social distancing, it doesn’t mean we can’t stay in touch with our family and friends. There are so many modern ways to get involved digitally, doing video calls, joining group chats, and even attending virtual parties and concerts, are valuable options for which we should be grateful. Check-up on your friends and reconnect with those you may not have heard from for a while. Keep in mind that your friends and family are likely suffering from the same types of anxiety and stress that you are experiencing right now, so make a mental effort to contribute positively to the conversation. You could have a super-positive influence on their day.
6. Incorporate humour and laughter into your day. It is well known that there are short and long-term benefits of laughter on the human body and mind. Everything from stimulating your organs to lowering your stress levels, improving your blood circulation, strengthening your immune system, and even relieving physical pain – laughter really is the best medicine.
7. Find the strength to leave behind negativity In this current climate, it is easy to get pulled into negative interactions that can leave us feeling distressed, insecure and negative. Giving ourselves permission to remove ourselves from these situations and interactions can help us manage our stress and contribute to our positivity. This includes obsessing over constant news feed, and updates about the virus. Staying informed and aware of what is happening locally and globally are important, and we should all make sure we are as educated and prepared as possible. But creating a healthy balance between news consumption and our daily routines is also crucial in helping us maintain a sense of normality and control over our mental health.
8. Believe! We can do this as humans, we can continue to pull together in our communities, we can have faith in our scientists to come up with a cure, we can trust that our health care heroes will continue to do everything they can. We can be kind, empathetic and supportive of others and what they are going through. We can have faith in ourselves to be resilient and strong and to believe in our future - one without Coronavirus in it!