It’s been a hard few months. People are out of work, others are working from home, many are juggling teaching their children and making sure they’re staying on top of the work the school provides and working from home – it’s a lot. There is uncertainty about what the summer will look like, let alone the fall and winter. Many schools have not released plans for the fall yet and people are uncertain about whether classes will be carried out through distance learning or held in-person. Essentially, there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment.
All of this can be stressful. And while we certainly won’t tell you to be a Pollyanna and deny anything you’re feeling, there are ways to stay positive in the face of uncertainty. You can still feel sad, anxious, or angry – but an overall positive outlook can be helpful.
Sometimes it can be hard to find ways to stay positive, so we have some tips for you!
Eat healthy. Believe me, we get it – it’s so easy to snack on chips while working from home, or indulge in lots and lots of comfort food. But a healthy diet will help you feel better physically and mentally. Excess carbs can cause blood sugar fluctuations, adding to fatigue, irritability, and mood swings. Not getting enough of certain nutrients can cause mood changes and low energy. Skipping meals can make you irritated and tired. It’s perfectly fine to eat your comfort foods occasionally – but make sure you’re drinking enough water, eating a varied diet, and crunching on lots of fruits and vegetables!
Get outside. Being outside in the sun helps your body get the required amount of vitamin D that it needs. The fresh air and sunshine can improve your mood and increase energy levels. It doesn’t have to be long – you can take a walk around the block, sit on your front step, play catch with someone – just get outside every day for a bit if possible.
Actively seek out positive information. We all know how easy it is to become overwhelmed online with the news, a plethora of information about COVID-19, and anxiety-producing articles. Instead, try limiting your intake of those pieces and be proactive about looking for things you love or are interested in, that will make you feel good. Have you wanted to travel? Why not start researching your favorite places? Do you love a certain show? Go watch it! Have you always wanted to read a certain book? Try it now! Focus on what you can control with the media, and seek out things that help put you in a positive mindset.
Take action. You can still be a force of good in the world, even if you’re at home. Do you have a favorite charity or cause? If you can, donate. Are there elderly neighbors near you who may need help with picking up items from the store? Help, if you can. Want to add some cheer to your neighborhood? Work with your kids on making a rainbow to put in your windows. Do you have friends or family who live alone and may be lonely? Call or FaceTime them. They’d love to hear from you.
Maintain contact with your colleagues. Being cut off from your program or school may feel disorienting. Not being able to see your advisor might feel weird. Stay in contact with them. Keep them apprised with what you’ve been doing. Check in with your cohort members to say hi. Speak with your advisor about what the future might look like, regarding your research timelines. Discuss whether alternate plans need to be made. This can all help to reduce anxiety and keep you moving forward, even a little bit, with your work.
Know that this will get better. It may not seem like it, and we don’t have solid timelines, but things will improve. Eventually, we will find a way to safely go about our everyday lives again. In the meantime, stay home as much as possible, take proper safety precautions, and remember to be kind, courteous, and thoughtful to others.
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