December 14, 2020

The year 2020 has impacted practically every facet of our lives as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. This has involved adjusting left and right with how we socialize, work, celebrate, and even go grocery shopping. Living in the midst of a global pandemic affects not only our physical health—it can really take a toll on one’s mental well-being too. As a result, maintaining positive thoughts and feelings can be understandably challenging when the world around us is simply not moving the same. With that said, in an attempt at providing a dash of re-assurance *cue the salt shaker*, it is possible. Read on for some relatable and essential tips to keeping a positive mindset during these unprecedented times.

1) Keep on living by YOUR values. Celebrations, practicing your religious faith, quality time with family…they were and always will be important in bringing a sense of meaning to your day to day. Let your “new normal” work around these fundamental values that are integral to your existence.

2) Socialize safely. We are social, emotional beings and a pandemic doesn’t change our human needs–just maybe how we go about meeting them at any given time. Utilizing the various video platforms, schedule a virtual happy hour with colleagues or connect with a friend and select a movie for a “watch party.” Thankfully, there are many technologies that are now available at our fingertips.

3) Make a physical or mental list of the blessings that have come your way despite the crisis. Have you been remaining physically healthy during this time? Are you still able to maintain employment and even work from the comfort of your own home? If you said yes to either of those questions, allow yourself to embrace your situation with gratitude. Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean disregarding the difficulties that life throws our way—it can, however, often make those struggles seem less significant.

4) Exercise, exercise, exercise. With depression and anxiety being felt by many individuals during the pandemic, exercise has been shown to alleviate these symptoms by releasing feel-good endorphins. Whether you’re a gym goer, an outdoor jogger, or prefer at-home workouts for getting the heart rate up, make some fun out of exploring different options in order to find a strategy that works for you.

5) Give yourself grace for the harder days. We often can be our own worst critics and set expectations that are incongruent with our circumstances. Remind yourself that it is OK to be less productive and function differently than normal during this time. We have all been trying to figure this out as we go and remember that you are far from being alone.

6) Plan (in advance) for life’s joyful moments. A pandemic doesn’t last forever even though it can often feel as if it will. It’s easy to adopt tunnel vision and get distracted by the limitations we are facing right here, right now. Maybe there’s a special wedding coming up in the next year that you will be a part of or a large gathering with friends that has yet to be planned. Hope is essential in the journey towards experiencing happiness and fulfillment.

7) Give back to your community. Giving to others and the act of generosity has long been known to help facilitate a positive mindset. You may feel powerless in the face of a pandemic and wonder if there’s any way to contribute to crisis relief. There are many opportunities, both big and small to assist in the healing process…and it may just start with checking in on loved ones regularly.

8) Self-care is key. This is going to look like something different for every person—and for a good reason. Self-care means taking care of your body and mind so that you can keep your cup full, especially if it’s consistently being poured out for others during a pandemic. Give yourself the time to enjoy what makes your heart happy and prioritize whatever that is.

9) Find creative, new ways to spend your time. Spending more time than ever now at home could mean opportunities to pick up that undiscovered hobby you’ve been meaning to try out or a new recipe you’ve put on the back burner (no pun intended). We often fall into lifestyles that are familiar and convenient for us, so tapping into that creative side could be what you’re needing at the moment.

10) Experience laughter. It is considered some of life’s best medicine and it is shown that laughter helps mitigate our responses to stress. Amid all the trials and trauma that has been brought on during a pandemic, the benefits of laughter remain tried and true. It is the body’s very natural, therapeutic way of saying, “Yes! I am alive and still smiling.”