We’re on day one million of quarantine. So, maybe it hasn’t been that long, but it sure feels like it! And I think we can all agree, it's getting harder to stay positive. More than ever, we could all use some extra tools in our emotional tool belt to help us through these tough times. We’re here to help with some tips on staying positive, even during a pandemic.
The Power of Positive Thinking
According to Kendra Cherry from Very Well Mind, positive thinking actually means approaching life’s challenges with a positive outlook. It does not necessarily mean avoiding or ignoring the bad things; instead, it involves making the most of the potentially bad situations, trying to see the best in other people, and viewing yourself and your abilities in a positive light.
Doesn’t that sound refreshing? It’s so easy to fall into negativity when everything around you is chaotic. But choosing to make the most out of our current situation can help us come out of this stronger than before.
Characteristics of Positive Thinkers
- Optimism: a willingness to make an effort and take a chance instead of assuming your efforts won’t pay off
- Acceptance: acknowledging that things don’t always turn out how you want them to, but learning from your mistakes
- Resilience: bouncing forward from adversity, disappointment, and failure instead of giving up
- Gratitude: actively, continuously appreciating the good things in your life
- Consciousness/Mindfulness: dedicating the mind to conscious awareness and enhancing the ability to focus
- Integrity: the trait of being honorable, righteous, and straightforward, instead of deceitful and self-serving
What Stands in the Way of Positive Thinking?
Negative thinking can present in multiple ways. Identifying your personal tendencies is a great first step in flipping the script.
Focusing on the negative part of a situation and ignoring the positive aspects.
Example: You had to go home for the semester. Instead of enjoying the extra time you get to have with your younger siblings (who you rarely see), you dwell on the fact that you can’t be with your friends.
Anything negative that happens must be all your fault.
Example: Your friends decided to cancel the spring break trip you had planned. Instead of understanding that they were trying to stay safe, you assume that they just didn’t want to travel with you.
Assuming the worst will always happen.
Example: COVID-19 has disrupted the economy in a big way, so there is no way you’ll ever find a job or internship.
Things will only go well if you are perfect.
Example: You learn best in person, so you assume you’re going to fail at online learning.
How You Can Improve Your Mindset
Flip the script on negative self-talk
Turn those negatives into positives! Whenever you catch yourself thinking something negative, challenge yourself to “flip the script” and look for the silver lining in the situation. Here are some examples:
- Between budget cuts and remote working, there’s no way I’ll get an internship this summer >> I’ll reach out to companies and see if they would be willing to do a remote internship for school credit.
- I’ve never taken an online class before. I won’t be successful. >> This is an opportunity to develop new skills and another way of learning.
- I feel so lonely. >> I’ll make more of an effort to connect with people in virtual ways. It’s better than nothing!
- I can’t work out because my gym is closed. >> I can find new ways of working out on the internet.
Trust me, this one does wonders in changing your perspective. When things feel out of your control, or you’re going through a tough time, one of the most powerful things you can do is force yourself to think about the things that ARE going well. Even if they are just small things.
Get into the habit of writing down at least 5 things each day you are grateful for. If you know you have this assignment each day, you can teach yourself to look for positives in your daily life. By chasing the positives, you can slowly rewire your brain from a negative mindset to a positive one.
Limiting your exposure to negativity
This is a BIG one. We’re surrounded by negativity and noise every day from the news and social media. I highly encourage you to use this time to do a social media cleanse. This doesn’t mean you have to delete your Instagram account, but it does mean curating your feed so that everything you’re seeing makes you feel happy, connected, or inspired. Don’t want to unfollow people? The mute feature on Instagram is your best friend.
Another thing I recommend is limiting how much news you are taking in. While it's important to know what’s going on in the world, constantly taking in scary, negative news is only going to hurt your mindset. Find a few reputable news sources to follow and only check them once a day, so you feel informed instead of terrified. And if you’re looking for something uplifting, I highly recommend watching John Krasinki’s Some Good News show on YouTube. It makes me cry happy tears every single time.
Stay safe out there TSL Nation, we love you!