It’s easy to feel beaten down during tough times, such as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Yet it’s surprisingly easy to adopt upbeat behavior to weather tough times.
Experts supply these 13 tips for staying upbeat in the face of unease and uncertainty.
How to Stay Positive
1. Acknowledge your stress.
“Understanding that they are all a normal part of our experience now will allow us to have them,” Sandler says, “and model for our children that these are normal and healthy aspects of the experience.”
2. Don’t panic.
Panicking can aggravate your stress.
“We are resilient. We are strong. Crises bring out the best in all of us,” Sandler says. “Through this experience, we will grow and change. Let’s all find ways to support ourselves and each other through this difficult time.”
3. Maintain a routine.
Douglas Moll, a psychologist who’s a medical adviser for health and wellness website eMediHealth, says it’s important to try to make your daily routine as normal as possible.
“Many of us are staying home and we have been physically cut off from our workplaces, friends and family, and we can’t engage in our daily routines the way we used to,” Moll says.
Some of the ways you can pursue normalcy are:
- Keep up your workout regimen. Your gym may be closed, but you can still exercise at home. Perhaps you can chat by video with a workout partner during your exercise sessions.
- Stick to your regular work schedule even though you’re working from home. Treat your home like your workplace, but remember to take breaks and end your workday at a reasonable time.
- Maintain connections with friends and family through FaceTime, Zoom and other apps. “This is a great opportunity to deepen our connections with others, because we have a lot more time to focus on this,” Moll says.
4. Take care of yourself.
Sandler says self-care can foster positivity. Ways you can do this include:
- Binge-watch a show on Netflix.
- Soak in a soothing bath.
- Chat with friends and family by phone or with video apps.
- Sip a glass of wine.
5. Find inner peace.
“Having some calm can help you stay upbeat as you cope with the stress of the unknown. It can also help you recharge your energy so you can be there for others at this difficult time,” Ashley says.
6. Focus on the good stuff.
Raffi Bilek, a therapist who directs the Baltimore Therapy Center, says concentrating on what’s going well in your life can help you overcome coronavirus-induced stress.
“It’s true that things are tough for a lot of people right now. But for most of us, there is still a lot of good in our lives, especially compared to how life was in generations past,” Bilek says.
Be grateful for having:
- A place to live.
- Heating and air conditioning, which once were considered luxuries.
- Clothes to wear.
“None of this is to say that our situation isn’t difficult and that we have no right to be sad or anxious. We feel how we feel,” Bilek says. “But we can also affect how we’re feeling by deciding where to put our focus. Spend some time thinking about the good things in your life, and it will help you stay upbeat during this tough time.”
7. Socialize safely.
For the majority of us, social distancing is the new norm. But humans are social creatures, meaning that we’re going against our natural instinct to be around other people when we essentially hibernate.
Technology can enable you to be social in the era of social distancing. You can go to a virtual happy hour, hang out at a virtual concert, attend a virtual book club and so on. Or you can pick up the phone and talk, not text, with a relative, friend or colleague.
8. Get outside.
You need not go far to get of the house and get some fresh air. Sandler suggests sitting outside — perhaps in your backyard — and drinking a cup of tea. If you’ve got kids, encourage them to play in the backyard. Or take a stroll around your neighborhood, remembering to keep your distance from others.
One of the greatest benefits of heading outdoors is the ability to produce the “sunshine vitamin” — vitamin D. Sunlight helps your body naturally manufacture vitamin D.
9. Limit exposure to news.
The steady drumbeat of news about the coronavirus pandemic can wear you down.
“Checking the news constantly is not psychologically healthy for us. What excites the media is drama, and anxiety feeds a news addiction,” Sandler says.
Therefore, it’s best to reduce your news consumption — on TV, on your laptop, on your cellphone, on your tablet — to, say, 15 or 30 minutes a day.
If you’re craving information, “spend the rest of your time on positive news and research to counterbalance your stress,” Ashley recommends.
10. Tackle something you’ve been putting off.
You’ve been meaning to declutter the bedroom closet that wouldn’t spark any joy for Marie Kondo. You’ve been itching to read the Brené Brown book that’s been on your nightstand for three months. You’ve been eager to take an online course about photography.
Whatever you’ve been pushing into the future, now’s the time to take it on. Maybe you can accomplish several goals by finally addressing your to-do lists and New Year’s resolutions, Moll says.
“This will help you stay busy and it will get your mind off all the bad news for a while, and you’ll be left with a good feeling because you accomplished something,” Moll says.
11. Contemplate what’s important to you.
Moll recommends giving thought during this time to what truly brings meaning to your life.
“It’s not often that the whole world basically stops. There are some terrible things happening as a result of this pandemic, but often a time of crisis gives us an opportunity to discover what is really important in our lives,” he says. “When we are cut off from the people and things that we love, it makes us appreciate them all the more, and it may lead us to reprioritize how we live our lives after this crisis is over.”
For instance, it might dawn on you that constantly posting about home décor on Pinterest matters less than spending more time with relatives and friends or volunteering more often at your favorite charity.
12. Look to the future.
It might seem like the coronavirus shutdown will never end, but the good news is that it will. We just don’t know when that’ll happen.
As we await the lifting of stay-at-home orders and social-distancing guidelines, you can take advantage of this time to make post-coronavirus plans. Discuss upcoming birthdays, trips you want to take with your kids and other activities “so we can maintain hope for the future,” Sandler says.
Watch a stand-up comedy act on Hulu, catch up on old episodes of “Friends,” share humorous memes or even engage in what Sandler calls a “family tickle war.” Whatever it takes to chuckle, be sure to laugh every day.
“Research shows laughter is the best medicine, so find some outlet to laugh,” Sandler says. “It will help release some tension.”