Keeping Positive in Challenging Times

by Sep 14, 2021

Focus on the Positive to  Change Your Mindset

It is hard to maintain a positive outlook during times of uncertainty and a worldwide pandemic is pretty well the dictionary definition of uncertainty. It’s easy to feel surrounded by doom and gloom when you’re living in mandated socially isolated as we have been experiencing off and on in the past 18 months. Making things even more difficult is the constant change of conditions connected with public health rules, which at times have been dramatically different from one community to the next.

It was looking like we were done and moving past COVID but now many areas are dealing with new waves and new ‘variants of concern’. Frustratingly, some previously lifted restrictions are now being reintroduced.  In Nova Scotia, plans to move to the next phase of reopening, scheduled for tomorrow, have been pushed back to at least October 4 due to slowed vaccination rates and fluctuating case numbers.

The latest news and social media sites are again filled with stories high infection rates and overcrowded hospitals resulting in the postponement of non-essential procedures.  It’s important to take your mental health seriously, and mindset seems to be the key. There are two camps out there when it comes to mindset during challenging times. Some people are able to focus on the positives, while others seem to be more challenged to keep a productive, positive mentality.

Returning to a ‘New Normal’

Many have been eager to return to offices and pubic events while others have mixed feelings.  Even the return to our old patterns is fraught with anxiety for many.  This “new normal” that we’re facing comes with all sorts of changes to our familiar work and school patterns with mask, distancing and related requirements imposed and, often, unclear.  Initially, lockdown experiences were isolating and required adjustment but now it has become a comfort zone for many and the idea of returning to shared workspaces and events, with the attendant possibility of increased exposure to COVID, is stressful.

Attitude can be everything

How we interact with others is constantly changing in this transition time.  Here are some things that you can do to maintain a positive mindset.

Be kind to yourself

If you are anxious or unsure about returning to old activities – or starting new ones -give yourself time to adjust.  Look for ways to give yourself a break and find support  (17 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself).  And if it feels like too much, ease in slowly to activities, starting with casual events with one or two friends.

Respect the experience of others

Remember that others may be experiencing different levels of comfort or anxiety.  Do not take it personally if someone is not ready to resume all their social engagement.

Reach out, Speak up

Compare notes.  Explain your concerns.  Ask for support if you feel overwhelmed. Talk to friends, call a helpline, or talk to a professional if feeling anxious, unsure or under pressure.

Go offline

Sometimes it can be helpful to unplug. Take a conscious step back from the tv or computer screen and try not to let yourself be inundated with negative news 24/7. Spend in person or virtual time with friends and family. Get outside.  Do something to make yourself smile.

Make small changes to your routine

Sometimes something as small as what you’re wearing can make all the difference in how you feel.  Put on your most comfortable shirt in your favourite colour.  Dressing for success might provide that needed mood boost and positive motivation. Achieving a positive outlook can be as simple as daily positive affirmations. (60 Positive Affirmations You Should Read Daily to Change Your Life)

Give yourself a mood-makeover

Apply these strategies to change your mood.  Making a conscious choice to change a mindset can be the first step to helping ourselves remain positive during difficult times.  There is lots of bad news and it can be hard to not feel down at times.  If you do feel yourself getting blue, try making a conscious effort to rearrange your mindset. A positive attitude can make all the difference!

Banner photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


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