There is definitely a strong link between positivity and good health. The Mayo Clinic reports that “researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress”
A study at Johns Hopkins found that “people with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.” (emphasis added)
Great! So how to stay positive?
There’s no question that this year has been stressful to people all over the world. Do a quick search online for “2020 memes” and be prepared for a few chuckles. It’s been quite a year!
Unfortunately, the news has been nonstop with fires, volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes, explosions, murder hornets, aliens, and of course – COVID-19, among many, many other distressing events.
While all of these things contribute to anxiety, stress, depression, and uncertainty, how does one remain positive without just escaping civilization and living off the grid on some remote mountaintop or isolated island?
Limit your consumption of news and social media
A steady diet of doom and gloom reporting on the 24-hour cycle of news and social media is bound to affect anyone in a negative way. So check the headlines once a day, block or mute the trolls on social media, and don’t feed yourself negativity.
Increase your consumption of positivity
There are many options for humorous, inspirational, positive content to take in if you just can’t put down your phone or tablet. Follow accounts that are uplifting and that help distract you in a good way. You can’t go wrong following cute animals, like this great account. While it’s easy to slip into spending too much time in front of the TV or computer screens, you can find funny or uplifting content that can actually help your mindset.
Limit idle time
Even if you are staying in and limiting your outside contact to the occasional grocery shopping expedition, it’s really important to keep busy and, however possible, to incorporate some exercise and movement into your daily routine. Idle time can contribute to depression. It’s also a great time to pick up a new hobby!
Stay in touch
Video chats, phone calls, emails, text messages, social media messaging… these are all ways to stay in touch with friends and family even when you can’t get together in person. Don’t let yourself or your children become isolated and cut off. Encourage communication. Help your child find a pen pal who lives in an interesting place and actually, you know, pick up a pen and paper and write a letter! Some schools have pen pal programs, or you can check out the resources here.
Do something for others
It is always uplifting to use some of your energy and resources to help someone in need. Here are some great suggestions from Parents magazine on how to get your child involved in charitable activity. And for some suggestions that are specifically designed for kids during quarantine, check out this information.
Get enough sleep
Sometimes, just when you’re finally able to rest your head on your pillow, all the worries of the day start flooding in and you can feel your blood pressure rising along with your anxiety. This can result in loss of sleep and restless nights which, in turn, affect you well into the next day. This is a cycle that can quickly lead to physical illness as well as depression. So how to turn off those sleep-stealing worries? Cleveland Clinic offers some suggestions. And if you wake up in the middle of the night and find that you can’t get back to sleep, Healthline has these suggestions.
We’re not suggesting that you white-knuckle it, hide your head in the sand and try to block out the rest of the world (also referred to as “toxic positivity”). If you need help cultivating a positive attitude, here are some more tips. Finding healthy alternatives to negativity can help you and your children cope with the unavoidable stresses of life in 2020.