How To Stay Optimistic During A Pandemic

Matt Lillywhite

Photo: Denis Jung/Unsplash

Are you currently living each day with a sense of anxiety?

If you’re anything like me, you want to be happy, and stay optimistic during a time of global crisis. But no matter how hard you try to eliminate negative thoughts, they plunge your mental health into an abyss of uncertainty from which you cannot escape.

It sucks.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself in the same position as you many times. But I’ve discovered that the best way to stay positive during a global pandemic is by focusing on what you can do to create a better mindset. Like the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius once said:

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

So if you want to heal your anxiety, and live each day with a sense of optimism, below are a couple of ways to make it happen. Each one of these insights massively improved my mental health during the pandemic, and I’m sure they will do the same for you, too.

Focus On What You Can Control.

When the entire world is crumbling down, it’s easy to feel like you’re in the middle of a disaster movie. After all, international borders are shut, and people are getting arrested for going to the park with their children.

So if you’re anything like most people, you’re a little bit lost for words right now. You’re struggling to get through this crisis, and wonder if everything is going to be okay.

I recognize there’s death, suffering, and heartbreak caused by the current pandemic. But instead of focusing on the things you can’t control, I’ve learned that a much better strategy is to focus on what you can.

  • If you have a lot of time in your schedule, try finding a new hobby to start, or a new skill to learn.
  • Consider using the extra time indoors to strengthen relationships with family members, or whoever else you’re isolating with.
  • If you’ve been laid-off, use this as an opportunity to update your resumè, and search for a new career.

The truth is that the human race has faced pandemics, wars, and many other horrific events throughout our history. But it’s important to remember that this crisis will eventually pass, and we will emerge as a much more compassionate society.

Focusing on the negative aspects of the world inevitably creates a negative mindset. So take a moment to think about the positive things that will happen as a result of the pandemic. For example:

  • Stricter hygiene measures will create a massive decrease in the number of flu cases around the world.
  • Many people will choose to work from home, so they’ll spend a lot more time with loved ones each day.
  • Less traffic on the roads has significantly reduced pollution levelsaround the world.

You get the idea. When you focus on everything that’s going well in the world, you spend much less time worrying about everything that isn’t.

Find Ways To Improve Your Mental Health.

One of my favorite activities is going for a walk down the beach. I love hearing the waves crash against the sand and the birds singing in the trees. Because no matter what’s happening in the world, going into nature is always something that gives me a sense of inner peace.

Sure, you can watch CNN (or any other news outlet) for the entire day. But that’ll just heighten your anxiety and make you view the world in a negative light.

What would be the point in that? Are you just going to give up on your goal of trying to live a happy life? I certainly hope not.

The way you look at the world matters. So whenever you get a chance, take a moment to go into nature and find the beauty of life in times of chaos. Henry David Thoreau said it best:

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying it’s a good idea to be ignorant of the Coronavirus pandemic. That would be stupid. But if you can do something each day which makes you smile, the next few months will certainly be a lot more bearable.

I’m going to leave you with a final quote from Marcus Aurelius, who beautifully speaks about the importance of being grateful for the little things in life:

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

Consider taking a walk down the beach, in your local park, or anywhere else that you may enjoy. Although it may only be for 30 minutes a day, the impact it’ll have on your mental health is incredible.

Because when you’re grateful for simply being alive, it’s much easier to stay positive during a pandemic.

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