If the year 2020 brought you disappointment, disillusionment, and dismay, you’re certainly not alone. The cancellations of favorite traditions and the disruption of normal life brought feelings of negativity and frustration, if not moments of complete melancholy, to us all. How bad 2020 was quickly became the subject of memes, talk show segments, and t-shirts.
So how do you stay positive and motivated in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, or any period of extended uncertainty? Here are some tips to help you ride out the storm.
Attempting to reflect on what makes you happy is vital to maintaining positivity. The next time you’re feeling down, turn away from whatever screen you’re looking at and ask yourself: there are lots of things I want, but what am I grateful that I have? Close your eyes for a few minutes to consider. Obvious things will come to mind at first, but keep thinking! What small things have really brought you happiness so far this week?
It’s difficult to widen your worldview in times of uncertainty, but take the time when you’re feeling down to try. You are living through historic events that future generations will wonder about the same way you may have wondered what it was like to live in ancient China, Victorian England, or through World War II. So, imagine yourself as an inspiration for those future generations. One day, you’ll be able to say, “Wow. Those times were so, so tough. But I made it.” Being able to persevere through tough times makes YOU tough, too.
This new age of online learning (and online everything) has brought us more screen time than ever before. You probably have felt the effects: strained eyes, a stiff neck, and fatigued muscles; all of which can quickly dampen your spirits. Attempt to reinvigorate your mind, body, and spirit by getting outside and/or getting active. Take time for a walk around your neighborhood or do some quick exercises to get your blood pumping. Aside from the health benefits like a boosted immunity and better sleep, you’ll feel more positive and motivated afterward.
With the world suddenly turned upside down, you’ve probably found yourself thrust into newly heightened responsibilities and steep learning curves, all of which brought higher levels of stress. But deeply important to your mental health is learning how to manage that stress in the way that works best for you. There are endless resources online about combating the overwhelming stresses in our lives, but a cornerstone of stress relief is taking meaningful breaks, even if you feel like there’s no way you have time. If it’s challenging for you to “turn your brain off,” there are apps that can guide you!
Why does the news always seem so…gloomy? There are many factors, but a major one is that news sources often use negative headlines to attract traffic to their site, working with a psychological concept called negativity bias. The result is an overwhelming sense of dread the more you click around. Once you’re aware of this, however, it’s easier to recognize and face it head-on. This isn’t an excuse to stay blissfully unaware of the challenges the world is facing today. But if you keep in mind the news’ affinity for the doom-and-gloom, you’ll be able to combat it more easily.
You’ve heard of treating others the way you’d want to be treated, and hopefully, you do! But do you employ this logic in reverse? If your friend is having a particularly rotten day, how do you help? You do your best to be encouraging, comforting, and forgiving, of course. It’s exceptionally tricky, though, for us to extend those same kindnesses to ourselves.
When we’re having a bad day we tend to be extra hard on ourselves. Our inner monologues say hurtful things that we would never say to a friend. So the next time you’re feeling down, think: what would I say to someone who’s feeling the way I feel right now? And say that to yourself!
No one feels positive all the time, and learning to recognize your own emotions takes practice. Attempting to stay motivated in the face of challenges and uncertainty can feel daunting, but the more you try it, the better you’ll start to feel.
If you find that you are in an extended period of sadness or are considering self-harm, please talk to someone. You are a beautiful soul and the world is brighter because of you.