“Happiness is always there. You just have to choose to see it. There’s no point dwelling in the dark and ignoring the light of the stars.”
― Carrie Hope Fletcher
The past few weeks have been chaotic, to say the least. The pollen fell several times, spring came and went, and now we’re here trying to manage our new normal in the face of Covid-19. Many feel hopeless instead of hopeful.
You and I would probably agree that we have similar reasons to be fearful, sad, hopeless, angry, and distrustful, and everything else within the gamut of emotions. Why? Well, unless you live under a rock or in a cave, you know that the Coronavirus outbreak has stopped by and taken over 2020 for a while! In the meantime, how can you take care of yourself to ensure that you’re still optimistic, calm, and not overwhelmed?
During times of crisis, it’s crucial to stick to the basics and remember what’s really important. It’s about taking care of yourself, and your friends, and family.
But what else can you do to make sure that you’re okay if you’re distraught and don’t feel very hopeful right now?
Here are 7 Ways to remain hopeful when life gets chaotic.
1. Acknowledge your feelings. Realize that whatever you’re feeling is natural and it’s okay.
Even if your feelings are scary and not so nice at first, you are worthy of sorting them out to understand and process them. An outbreak of any kind would scare me. Now we’re living in time where the world is trying to manage a Coronavirus outbreak. Sigh! Despite how you feel or what anyone else says, they are your feelings, and deserve to be acknowledged and respected. Who knows, later on, you may even have to simplify things to explain them to young children.
Can you do either of the following to come to terms with your thoughts? Journal your thoughts for 5 – 15 minutes to get them out of your head? Use the voice chat feature on your phone because it serves the same purpose or call, or video chat with a friend to discuss your feelings?
Are you angry, sad, hopeless, disinterested in your normal activities, scared, or unsure about the future, or just trying to make it to tomorrow because you can’t function? Either way, I know about all of those emotions because I’ve been there.
Once upon a time as a very young mother, there were a few nights when I went to bed without dinner because I only had enough food to feed my very young children. I was a complete chaotic mess! But the one thing I knew for sure was that things would get better, it would require some action on my part, and I had to change my perspective.
I decided not to dwell on the obvious, but to start making moves in a more positive direction to take better care of my babies. Although I worked full-time, soon after, I enrolled in a night school to obtain a bachelor’s degree in business and started my first software training business.
2. Do a news detox.
How many times do you read, watch, or listen to the news each day? When we are under extreme stress, the worst thing we can do is continue to apply more stress to the situation. Information overload is real! How many more times can we actually listen to another country overtaken by the Coronavirus outbreak? It’s heartbreaking! And, it is literally someone’s job to create the most intriguing and attention-getting headlines to cause you to hyperventilate.
Please know that we must remain informed during these chaotic times. But, digesting too much stressful and negative information, or simply being around negativity overloads our nervous system and something within us begins to change. In a short period, it can lead to overwhelming feelings, insomnia, an unnecessary sense of panic and fear, feelings of anxiety and depression, and a weakened immune system.
We easily internalize what we see on the news and it can leave us feeling hopeless instead of hopeful. Instead of checking the news all day, try checking it once in the morning, once at lunch, and once before bed. Or, tune in once in the morning and once before bed. Determine if adjusting your viewing habits makes a difference in your overall well-being.
Digesting too much stressful and negative info overloads our nervous system. It can lead to overwhelming feelings, insomnia, an unnecessary sense of panic & fear, anxiety and depression & a weakened immune system.
3. Practice Positive Self-talk.
What is positive self-talk? Basically, it’s the way we talk to ourselves when we’re alone and when no one else is looking. How do you talk to yourself? What are you telling her or him right now during this stressful time? Is your overall tone positive or negative?
Having a negative attitude or negative thinking, in general, can result in feelings of depression, perfectionism, self-doubt, and procrastination.
When you practice positive self-talk, you have the same conversations with yourself, but the overall tone is more positive, upbeat, and optimistic. Do you want to talk to a chronic complainer who’s critical of your every move? Of course not!
But, by practicing positive self-talk you train your brain to stop your inner critic in their tracks and turn the conversation to a more positive one. Does this mean that everything you say has to be positive? Nope, because that’s not the reality that we live in. We’re simply doing our best trying to stay hopeful. Here’s an example.
Imagine that you were in the grocery store to get groceries later and you reached over someone on your aisle to get something off of a top-shelf. Then, the other person immediately gave you the evil side eye. In other words, you forgot to practice social distancing. Sigh!
What would you say to yourself from that moment on until you got home? The old me would say something like “how stupid could you be? I wonder what she’s thinking about you? Everyone was looking. You just made a complete fool out of yourself!”
The new me would say something like “wow, I can’t believe you did that! At least you apologized. She looked like she was okay with it. Oh well. Life happens. Okay, take a deep breath. Take another deep breath. I’m okay, and everything is fine.” The End.
Me: Turns on the radio in my car and drives home…
Does any of this make sense? The way we think, either positively or negatively can affect our entire attitude, situation, and outcome. No, the situation didn’t change, but my attitude did. And, that’s one of the huge benefits of positive thinking and positive self-talk. I think it’s really important to think positively during this Coronavirus outbreak and truly believe that you’ll come out on the other side of it stronger.
If you want to practice positive self-talk, here is a worksheet in this article: 2 Reasons Why Positive Self-talk Is A Real Skill https://karendoniere.com/positiveselftalk/
You are powerful!
4. Create a list of your favorite uplifting quotes, scriptures, and affirmations.
Having a power list of go-to quotes, scriptures, and affirmations is key in remaining hopeful and feeling your best during a chaotic time. A practical Bible verse, quote, or affirmation can be just the thing to keep you focused and grounded when you’re alone or need an encouraging thought the most! Especially now when the recurring theme throughout the country is the Coronavirus outbreak.
One of my favorite affirmations that I created helps me to stay calm when I’m having a moment is below. I say it slowly and take about 2 – 3 deep breaths. It instantly calms me down. I hope you find it useful.
“I am okay. Everything is fine.”
Make it a goal to create your own power list of go-to items for your mental and emotional health tool belt.
5. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had time.
If your city or state has implemented a shelter in place order aka a quarantine, you may have a lot of extra time on your hands. Why not use the time to try something new or do something that you’ve always wanted to do but never had time to do? But, only if you want to. Remember, this whole ordeal is traumatic. So somedays you may only want a nap. I know I do! Something like what you say? Well, here are a few suggestions to get your creativity flowing. And, if you have kiddos, you can find creative projects online for them too.
- Paint a room
- Try those new recipes
- Write a book
- Sew something
- Create an indoor or outdoor flower/veggie garden
- Make a scrapbook for yourself or someone else
- Create something else totally new and different
- Write calming poetry
- Create a painting masterpiece
- Print out coloring sheets and start your coloring book or make your own
Intentionally focusing your attention on something else, and something more positive will make you feel better overall, spark your creativity, and increase your body’s resistance to the common cold, and increase your ability to cope with stress in general. Yes, we will stay hopeful, healthy, and creative!!!
6. Create a schedule for regular exercise.
Depending upon your shelter in place restrictions during this Coronavirus outbreak, you may be able to walk or bike around your neighborhood or local park as long as you respect the social distancing guidelines. Regular or even light exercise will help you to manage any additional feelings of anxiety, depression, or isolation, make you feel more hopeful and positive, and improve the quality of your sleep, and increase your energy. A lot of fitness and dance experts are offering free exercise classes on Instagram Live. Or, you could always do what I do. When life gets a little chaotic or whenever I feel like it, I dance like no one’s watching. It will definitely help you to feel more optimistic. One more thing, when you exercise, you will also be able to cope with your stressful situation better. It’s another win!
I decided to walk for 20-minutes for six days each week. And, on some days, I walk in the morning and evening. It’s nice to be outside to feel the sunshine and light breeze.
7. Create a schedule for checking-in on family and friends.
Use technology to keep in touch with your loved ones. Some of your family or friends may share your concerns during these chaotic times. Seeing familiar faces on FaceTime, GoogleDuo, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, or Google Hangout is everything! And, it will make you feel more hopeful about what’s going on. My family just started doing virtual check-ins with about six other family members on the call. The last check-in we did was so much fun and I had a blast! We initially planned to be on the call for only 20-minutes, but it went on for over an hour. Everyone was optimistic!
If your family member is not tech-savvy, is there someone close by who can help them? If not, please just call anyway to check-in on them. I’m sure they will love to hear from you!
During these chaotic moments, it’s worthwhile to remember what’s truly important. I think it’s what the Coronavirus outbreak has taught a lot of us. We’ve learned different ways of keeping in touch and who the real superstars, she-roes, and heroes are. Just look in the mirror. You’re discovering strengths you didn’t even know you had. Also, there’s usually a glimmer of light on the other side of disaster. You just have to visualize it and hold on long enough to see it. Despite what you think, you WILL get through this!
Additionally, if you need to speak with a mental health professional, please reach out to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) below and stay well. It’s a beautiful thing to take care of your mental and emotional health!
How are you staying hopeful and positive during the Coronavirus outbreak when many feel hopeless? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Find a local mental health professional:
Call the NAMI HELPLINE 1-800-950-6264 (NAMI)
M – F, 10 am – 6 pm EST
FIND HELP IN A CRISIS or text “NAMI” to 741741