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Practicing Optimism When Uncertainty Strikes

Was it two weeks ago or three that we noticed more people talking about the novel coronavirus and taking precautions? It seems like we’re living in another world as stores are stripped clean of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and daily living essentials. Coughs and sneezes are now suspect even though it’s spring with pollen, ragweed, and every other possible allergen in the air. If you develop a cough or sore throat overnight, you may panic. People are worried, and it seems the moment we adjust to a new normal every hour as we get new information.

At times like this, practicing optimism is extremely difficult. How do you see good in a situation is so chaotic and unprecedented? No one is going to feel great about what is going on but practicing optimism is more about changing your perspective and choosing to notice the positive. It’s not a simple undertaking but it is essential for your mental and physical health right now. Our mental health depends on connecting and interacting with others and is largely dependent upon how we frame what we’re seeing.

Optimism, like pessimism, is contagious. Here are suggestions of how you can practice optimism and, hopefully, others will catch it:

  1. Focus on what’s going well. Write down three or four things that went well yesterday. Include everything; even small things like talking to an old friend on Facebook. Practice gratitude by keeping a prayer box or a small vase with notes to yourself of what you’ve found joy or gratitude in that day.

  2. Set your sights on the future. Plan a future beach vacation and teach yourself and your family about the importance of delaying gratification. If you all shelter in place now and follow guidelines, we can get through this faster as a family and community and enjoy the future.

  3. Keep a list of the dreaded things you don’t have to do now. Most of us have one meeting or several meetings we didn’t have to attend due to the pandemic. Maybe you don’t have to deal with your morning commute, or you get to spend more time with your spouse. Perhaps everyone in your family is now on time for dinner!

  4. Connect with old friends. You may be hearing from old friends that you haven’t heard from in a long time. When life shuts down, it’s incredible how we have more time to reflect and think about the people who are part of our past. Life is busy, and we don’t often take time to pick up the phone and call someone we were once close to. Hearing from old friends reminds us we are loved.

  5. Use your words and actions to build your confidence. Use your favorite mantra and quotes to remind yourself that you are strong. Begin reading a book that strengthens you and reminds you how strong the human spirit is. Find a new interest or hobby on YouTube or Pinterest that you’ve always wanted to try so you can continue growing.

We are living in an incredible time. Practicing optimism and being a light with your actions and words for someone else will keep you and your community strong in body, mind, and soul. Care for others by staying in and social distancing but not isolating yourself.

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