3 ways to keep a positive outlook

By Megan Sanderson

3 minutes

06 May 2020

Woman joyfully working on her laptop

At a time like this, when the COVID-19 pandemic has created a sudden shift in the way of life for many, being present and having a positive outlook may seem nearly impossible.

We’ve called on qualified counsellor Megan Sanderson to share some of her recommendations on how to build a positive outlook.

I challenge you to have a little faith in the power of positivity. It may seem far out of reach, but keeping positive might be your key to navigating through this unprecedented time.

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

  1. An attitude of gratitude

  2. Reminding ourselves of the things that we are thankful for. Every time a person expresses or receives gratitude, dopamine, one of our hormones responsible for experiencing happiness, is released from a part of the brain, making a connection between the behaviour 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 after some reflection write down why I am thankful for them. I encourage you to give it a go. It 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. Doing something nice for somebody without the expectation of anything in return. Many recent studies have shown that merely carrying out kind acts 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, it is associated with the reward system by connecting behaviour with feeling good.

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

  5. Feed the optimist 

  6. Notice the positive voice that speaks to you and encourage it to stick around. The optimist sees opportunities for growth in situations 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'.

    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, keeping a positive attitude during a difficult time doesn't mean that you are insensitive, lack compassion or lack insight.  It means that regardless of any given situation or circumstance, you can be more resilient in moving through and responding to it. It is a way of cultivating hope within us, our community and bringing us together.

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.

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