By DAVE DRISCOLL Palliser School Division on December 2, 2020.
As the pandemic drags on and our lives continue to be in a state of flux and upheaval, it can be hard to stay positive or find happiness in our lives. The challenges of employment, paying the bills, childcare, school, or the hundreds of other tasks that should be regular are made more complex and difficult by the pandemic.
Adults, youth and children all feel this strain and react differently to it. Some are mired in negative thoughts, others find the odd silver lining in the day and yet some seem to be able to rise above it all and stay positive despite everything that is occurring around them. We need to take the virus seriously given the horrible impact it is having on our society and families. It causes illness, death and long-term changes to how we live and work. It can be very easy to focus all our energy on the negatives that surround us but in the end that would be counterproductive to living a good life. We need to know about the virus and how to stay healthy but we do not need to be experts on everything COVID, we have people hired to do that. The big question is how can we stay positive in a negative time? Studies and experts all have a variety of thoughts on strategies to do this but a few common threads appear.
The first of these is to limit the amount you are following and hearing about the virus. Every day we hear the numbers, the debates on what should or should not be done to halt the spread. It seems to surround us on the news networks, social media, papers, radio shows and any other media format out there. Children hear what we hear and their anxiety increases as well. Limiting your information to one or two sources and for only a set time of the day will aid you in controlling this constant barrage of negativity.
Another common suggestion is to practise random acts of kindness. Students recently took part in the Random Acts of Kindness Day with a variety of activities to not only bring joy to others but to themselves as well. Thinking of others and how they could benefit from your generosity and thoughtfulness is a great way to help yourself to positive feelings. Buying a coffee for the next person in the drive-thru, a thank-you note to the delivery person, and so on can bring yourself and the other person a little happiness.
Smile and laugh. While much of our time and contact seems to be limited to online meetings and get-togethers, it should not stop us from laughing and smiling. Bring happiness into your world and family with jokes, fun events or just a smile first thing in the morning. While social media can be one of the sources for all of our negativity, it can also provide us with a moment of levity. Sharing a funny video, positive message or story from social media can brighten the day for those around you as well as yourself.
Take time to disconnect, not only from the electronic world but take time for yourself. Enjoy some quiet time outdoors or reading your favourite book. Turn off the phone and the media for a short time to find some positive solitude.
Eat healthy. While we may joke about gaining weight or losing too much weight during COVID, the impact on our mental health is also worth watching. Ditching large amounts of junk food and adding more fresh foods into our diets can have a positive impact on our outlook on life. Take time to have family meals. Now that our schedules are a little less full, take the time to sit and talk to each other over a healthy meal.
Last but not least in this shortlist, take time at the end of each day to acknowledge the things you accomplished, whether they are large or small things. Thinking of the positive events will help outweigh the negativity we are surrounded with each day. Positive affirmation of yourself and your day can provide you with a better outlook and a reminder that everything happening is not bad or horrible, there are good things as well.
There are many more suggestions and ideas on staying positive during times of negativity, one of which is to seek help if you are finding it hard to find happiness in your world. Please reach out to a trained expert or friend that can support you. In these challenging times, we can all use a little help and support.
Dave Driscoll is the Superintendent of Palliser School Division