The coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it. In an attempt to slow the spread of the virus as researchers still learn more about treating and preventing it, the U.S. government and health officials have ordered people to self-quarantine to protect themselves and others. Stores are closed, schools have switched to online platforms, people are unable to leave their homes and, of course, college students have been sent home for the remainder of the semester. Updates on the pandemic dominate every news and media platform, and it’s almost impossible to focus on anything else right now.
In this unprecedented time, it can be especially hard to stay hopeful. There is so much unknown surrounding when life will return to normal, not to mention that staying home all day with limited social interaction can drive you crazy. For your own sanity and mental health, finding ways to stay positive is crucial.
Personally, I was a mess when I returned home from school. I was trying to make sense of the fact that my senior year of college is over and I won’t have a graduation. After wallowing for a few days, I realized the only way to get through this is by trying to find some positivity among all the negativity. I looked online for resources and tips, and I began to put things into perspective. I found small things to do every day that make me happy. Instead of always worrying about the future, I began taking things day by day, and I started to feel better. Obviously I’m still scared and sad, but I have developed a new “normal” for myself, and I remind myself that staying home is the best thing we can do for others right now.
If you are struggling to remain optimistic, realize that you aren’t alone. Although we are physically separated, we are all in this together. Below I list some of the many tips that can help you stay positive during these scary times.
Create some kind of routine for yourself
Creating a loose schedule to follow every day can bring some stability to your life. This is such an unorganized time in our lives, but getting into a routine can help bring back some normalcy. Try to create a schedule that allows time for hobbies, exercising, being productive, some time to unwind (think meditating, watching TV, reading a book) and work or school if needed (I highly recommend giving yourself some time to learn and work your brain every day, even if you don’t have online classes). Another way to think about it is to do something for your soul, heart, body and brain every day.
Meditate and exercise
Not only is working out good for your body, but it can help relieve anxiety and stress. There are plenty of at-home workout plans available online, and it really doesn’t need to be complex. Even just taking a walk can have many health benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states, “Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better.”
Meditation is another great way to relieve some stress. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Try to learn something new
Whether you want to teach yourself a new language, watch a documentary about a subject you’re interested in, learn to cook or paint — whatever it may be — now is the perfect time. It can help keep you busy, give you something to look forward to and help you grow as a person.
Don’t have anything new that you want to learn? You can still take this time to reconnect with old hobbies and strengthen those skills.
Realize it’s okay to not be productive all the time
Since quarantine began, all platforms of social media have been bombarded with the many ways people are staying productive. Seeing other people constantly getting things done can make you feel guilty if you aren’t doing as much. Remember that it’s okay to take time to rest, and it’s okay to not be busy doing something every minute of the day. If doing absolutely nothing sometimes helps you feel better, then that’s okay. If you need to have a lazy day, have a lazy day. Try not to compare yourself to others and work at your own pace.
As long as you continue to practice social distancing, going for a walk outside or even just sitting in your backyard can provide an opportunity to get some sunshine and leave the house. According to Harvard Health, getting outdoors can help increase vitamin D levels, boost your mood and improve concentration levels.
Expressing gratitude, or thanks and appreciation, is a way to acknowledge the good in your life. In a time where everything seems so bad, practicing gratitude can help offer some perspective that there is still a lot of good around us. Take some time every day to reflect on what you can be thankful for, whether it be your family, your home or the people like scientists and doctors working to help heal the sick. You can write down your thoughts in a journal, or just make a habit of taking some time daily to think about what you are thankful for.
Of course, everyone has their own way of remaining positive and processing their emotions, so not all of these things may work for you or appeal to you. What really matters is doing whatever it takes to stay positive during this stressful time. It truly is how we will come out of this stronger and better than before.
Melissa Scrivani is the associate life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.