As the coronavirus health crisis continues to affect our daily lives, many of us are struggling to find a silver lining. The daily headlines can feel heavy. Masks are still being worn. Cancellations and disruptions to our routines are on the rise as the Omicron variant moves through our communities. If you feel like you’re languishing or you’re searching for ways to stay optimistic during this uncertain time, you’re not alone.
Studies show there are many benefits to optimism. Optimists tend to live longer, healthier and less stressful lives than their pessimistic peers. In addition, an optimistic outlook encourages persistence which often leads to a successful outcome. Positive thinking doesn’t mean you’re in denial about the reality of a situation. It’s a tool that helps you face challenges, focusing on solutions instead of becoming overwhelmed by fear or hopelessness.
Ten Tips for Staying Optimistic
- Make up mantras. You are not alone. We’re all in this together. These aren’t just snappy sayings for t-shirts; they’re positive affirmations that can be a powerful tool in helping to shape your outlook. Pick one that resonates with you and repeat it often.
- Focus on successes. Remembering challenges you have overcome in the past can help inspire you to face future roadblocks. Tough times can become learning opportunities.
- Challenge your negative thoughts. We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose the way we respond to it. Reframe the situation and see what possible positive outcomes there are. For example, being “stuck at home with nothing to do” can be reframed as being “safe at home with an opportunity to connect with my family.”
- Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Start or end your day with a gratitude practice. Write down three things you are grateful for each day, or partner with a loved one and share them out loud. Gratitude trains your brain to see the positive.
- Stay in the present moment. It’s easy to get caught in a spiral of anxious thoughts about the future. We all want to know when this will end. If you find yourself stuck in this negative pattern, try this simple exercise to bring yourself back to the present moment.
- Let it go. Similarly, staying in the present moment can keep you from unnecessarily ruminating on the past. Traumatic events and other circumstances require appropriate support, time and attention to heal, but give yourself grace for minor mistakes or imperfect plans.
- Connect with positive people. Social connection contributes to happiness and is strongly correlated with optimism. Seek out the company of people that make you feel good and fuel your positive energy. Likewise, limit interactions with those who leave you feeling drained or pessimistic.
- Pay it forward. Performing acts of random kindness for others is a great way to boost your happiness. In addition, those you help and even those who simply witness your kind gestures will also benefit. Learn more about using kindness as a coping skill here.
- Do it for your family. Optimism can be a learned behavior and is a teachable skill. Give your family the many benefits of optimism by setting an example for them to follow.
- Practice makes progress. Of course, all new habits take time and continuous practice before they become automatic. Make the choice to be more optimistic each day and enjoy the rewards of your improved outlook.