3 ways to keep a positive outlook


3 minutes

06 May 2020

Woman joyfully working on her laptop
Last updated:

At a time like this, when the COVID-19 pandemic has created a sudden shift in our way of life, being present and having a positive outlook can be a real challenge.

To help us all look on the bright side, we’ve called on qualified counsellor Megan Sanderson.

Megan challenges you to have a little faith in the power of positivity. It may seem out of reach, but staying positive might be your key to navigating these unprecedented times.

So how might you do this? Here are three of Megan’s top recommendations for you to try at home:

  1. An attitude of gratitude

  2. "Remind yourself of the things that you are thankful for," says Sanderson.

    "Every time a person expresses or receives gratitude, dopamine, one of our hormones responsible for experiencing happiness, is released within the brain. This helps make a connection between positive behaviours and feeling good.

    "My strategy is to express daily gratitude by keeping a journal. Each day, I write down some things I am grateful for and why I am thankful for them," she says.

    Sanderson encourages everyone to give it a go. "Your entries could be as simple as – 'I am grateful for the sun shining, it brings me warmth and helps my plants grow' or 'I am grateful for my daughter's smile today, it brought me happiness seeing her face light up'."

  3. Random acts of kindness

  4. "Do something nice for somebody without the expectation of anything in return," she says.

    "Many recent studies have shown that carrying out acts of kindness may have a range of benefits. Being kind and engaging through caring behaviour stimulates the release of our ‘happy hormones’ from the brain. Just like gratitude, acts of kindness can help connect good behaviours with good feelings.

    "Think of how you can act kindly today, and take notice of how you feel afterwards. You might contribute helpfully to an online platform, check in on your neighbour, or send a kind message to a loved one. Or, if you're stumped, websites such as Random acts of kindness might help you out," she says.

  5. Feed the optimist 

  6. "Notice the positive voice that speaks to you and encourage it to stick around," explains Sanderson.

    "The optimist sees opportunities for growth by recognising personal difficulties and then thinking of them in ways that support growth and resilience.

    "If you're experiencing a negative thought, try and catch yourself and shift to a healthier one. For example, 'I'm stuck at home, I'm bored.' Apply a positive lens: 'I'm safe at home, and I am helping my community'," she says.

    "So, I ask you to have a little faith in the power of positivity and to try to cultivate a more positive way of being.

    "Remember, being positive during a difficult time doesn't mean that you are insensitive, or that you lack compassion or insight. It means that regardless of your situation, you are willing to be resilient in moving through and responding to it. It is a way of cultivating hope within us, and within our communities."

If you or someone you know is struggling with social distancing, you’re not alone and there are several places you can turn to for help.


This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.