Please note, I am in no way an expert on mental health. I am a person who knows I cannot be the one to provide advice. My article is written to provide a relatable story and potentially validate the mindset chaos resulting from the pandemic. It is not professional advice for mental health. If you need a professional to assist you, please reach out to someone. I truly believe in therapy and seeking the guidance of professionals. Please see the resource added at the bottom of this article if you need expert insight, conversation, or guidance.
The Pandemic has Changed Things
The pandemic has created a world we could not have imagined, it’s changed everything. Frankly, the pandemic sucks and it’s hard to find a positive mindset in all the negative. The changes we have endured have impacted every aspect of our lives in undeniable ways. It has been hard. The uncertainty of this pandemic is a struggle, creating frenzied emotions and mindsets. Therefore, we wonder when it will end, when we will get back to normal, and how much more we must experience.
This uncertainty and these questions stir chaos when trying to identify positives. I’ve experienced a serious blow to my typically positive mindset and it has felt as if I am being stripped of positive energy every time I think I may have found a glimmer of hope. For instance, my usual optimistic approach seems to slip from my grasp when I hear reports of increasing rates of positive cases. Maintaining a positive mindset is challenging with all the negative. Seeing the bright side of things is becoming increasingly more difficult as the shutdowns and cases are again on the rise.
I want to be the positive, optimistic light for others, bringing smiles and sunshine during the dark days. Thus, I wish my writing could change all of the negative for everyone. It would be nice if my words were inspirational with pure positivity and could make everyone happy. I still try to find those silver linings, though my approach is to shoot straight with honesty and authenticity. It is with this in mind I state this article’s intentions. I hope to accomplish three things:
- Acknowledge this pandemic SUCKS!
- Offer insight into my difficulty and what works for me in hopes it helps someone else.
- Gift a thought/a moment/an idea that may make some part of this better for you.
The Pandemic Sucks & There is Positive
Did I say yet that this pandemic sucks? Cause, it sucks! We all have our stories of the hardships, the breakdowns, and the unexpected consequences of the pandemic impact. I am reminded to listen to the stories of others and provide empathy without comparison. Many people have lost or are losing loved ones, they are missing life events that will never be duplicated and milestones are passing without an audience. These are important facts to keep in mind as we explore how we manage our own experiences. I use the phrase “it could be worse” often and know it is true of what is happening. This in no way invalidates the hard that has been experienced, it’s used as a reminder to understand it could be and is worse for someone else.
The pandemic impact stopped life as we knew it. The changes and ambiguity of the next few months can cause anxiety and lead some to feel anger, pain, and helplessness. These feelings are taking a toll on our communities. Each person has a story about their time with this pandemic and my family and I are no different. I share our story to provide context for my perspective and approach. As I stated above, we cannot compare our stories as we are all impacted and have hurt and loss. We must honor that for ourselves and be empathetic toward others. My story is riddled with challenge and success, my family and I are blessed and privileged, those two details cannot be forgotten. I am very aware that “it could be worse.”
My Pandemic Story
My family and I moved from Colorado to Ohio on March 27, 2020. It was the first few weeks of shutdown. My husband started a new job in Ohio on March 16th and found himself working remotely from Colorado. We moved with our 20-year-old daughter who was home unexpectedly from her Disney internship (again, pandemics suck). Our two sons (14 & 10) were excited to move, looking forward to starting new schools and making friends prior to the start of summer. We traveled on highways with few passenger cars, passed big rigs doing essential work and the hotels we stayed in were without the amenities we have come to expect. No waffles for breakfast, or open pools and few guests.
We have settled into our home these past months. Typically this amount of time would have allowed us to integrate into the community. We are sure the community is great, it’s just been difficult to connect amidst the pandemic restrictions. The boys have a hybrid school schedule allowing them to meet friends and play their favorite sports. Our daughter returned to her university in the fall and returned home for the holidays with hopes of returning to her campus (online classes only) in the spring. My husband works on Zoom calls and was able to attend a few socially distant events and I am working toward establishing a less fragile positive mindset.
We continue to manage through the struggles. I have often been angry and sad. Some days include moping and accomplishing very little. I think about being positive and look for the silver linings. It’s hard and I feel an unrecognizable hollowness. With all of that negative, I remain optimistic and hopeful.
A Bit of Positive in the Suck
There have been positive outcomes in the suck of the pandemic for our family. I spend real quality time with my kids in a way I have not experienced in years. My kids and I sit in quiet together. I listen and watch them breathe and take in the world they are experiencing. Sometimes they are playing games, endlessly scrolling on their phones, or working on their schoolwork. This time reminds me of when they were newborns and I could simply watch them for hours. I see them as the people they are becoming and wonder what they will be. This didn’t happen before the pandemic.
I am connecting with an awesome group of women from across the globe. They help me get through the lows, celebrate the highs, and continuously hold space for me. The weekly interactions with this business mastermind are the bright spot of my week. I am exploring creative possibilities for my business. During the initial meetings with the group, I tried to appear positive and upbeat on our weekly Zoom calls. Slowly, I gained genuine positivity and excitement about what I am working on and the possibilities the shut down has provided.
Exploring my professional self in a new career has been positive. I have embarked on new opportunities bringing me happiness. It feels good to grab the reigns of my own business and gain confidence in my potential. I realize it is the coupling of the pandemic with our move that has provided time and energy to focus on these things. Had there not been a pandemic, I would probably be working a job outside the home and I would not have reconfirmed or strengthened my passion, or my purpose. Reminding myself of these positives is helpful in realigning my mindset.
My Purpose for Finding Positive
I am sharing this to identify the good in a pandemic that sucks and talk about what helps me adjust my mindset. My persistence to find the positive in the situations I experience allows me to have some great days. I have to be intentional about my perspective, even on the days it seems impossible. The result is having a few great days sprinkled between hard days and okay days. My feelings are real and I validate and allow myself to feel them, the good and the bad. I have people to love me, support me and let me be low. These same people remind me to give myself grace while providing a swift kick in the ass when necessary. I have been mindful to provide these same spaces and support for others.
The moral of this story: this pandemic sucks and there are bad days and good days with positives existing as a result of the pandemic impact. I have allowed myself to live in chaotic feelings because that is the reality right now and I accept it. I will embrace and acknowledge the suck, allow myself to sit in it, and force myself to find the silver linings as well.
Give yourself the freedom to feel what you feel. These are legitimate feelings and I know there is good to come from the challenges we have today. It might be hard to find, and I know it is there. If you are struggling or need support, seek help. Find someone who can provide professional insight to address what you’re experiencing. Asking for help is the most courageous thing you can do and feeling better can change your life.
Positive Done Your Way
I must be upfront in saying it took me a very long time to realize and accept there were gifts coming from the challenges of the pandemic. It can be difficult to find and believe that there is good in the suck. I continue to seek positives because my default perspective is optimism. I express and believe in exuding positive energy in an effort to receive positivity. This year has tested this norm. At times, I have struggled to find genuine positive energy to send out.
As I have struggled and attempted to gain composure of the mind games this pandemic has produced, I re-visited the self-help books, blogs, and podcasts I have turned to in the past. I have talked with wise people whom I respect and admire. Reading books and speaking with these individuals have provided a foundation to develop strategies that combat the negativity taking hold of my mindset. The strategies can be summarized in one statement: Figure it out for yourself and do it your way.
Developing Your Own Strategies
Wasn’t that helpful? I can provide more context to the statement above and at the end of the day, you are the one that must identify what works for you. I have learned through experiences that there is not a one size fits all method of magic making when it comes to most things, especially self-development. You can read books filled with inspirational stories, outrageously successful outcomes, and follow the included advice but this does not guarantee the success you desire. I tend to look at the information as suggestive possibilities. You have to take the advice and anecdotes they offer, apply it to your life, try them out, and reject what doesn’t work for you. It should consist of a whole lot of trial and error, success and failure, ups and downs.
With that said, I warn you this is just an example of what works for me. It is incomplete and is not researched or tested. I continue to try things out and change up my strategies as needed. It is my work in progress. My anecdote is mine. It is yet another suggestive possibility you can try out and reject if it doesn’t meet your needs.
Take it or Leave it
For me, Jen Sincero is a guru of inspiration. I have read and listened to Sincero’s books, “You are a Badass” and “You are a Badass at Making Money” more than a dozen times. Her message and tone speak to me. Her voice motivates me when I listen to her read her own words. Some of the stories she shares are extremely helpful while others I discarded because they don’t resonate with me. I took what was relevant and left the rest.
Identifying what works for you is so important. Using what works and ridding yourself of the responsibility to do everything else can be freeing. I know some step by step routines to excellence claim you must follow every step exactly or you won’t be successful. Try things out and take what you can from the experience. This may seem so obvious to some of you, it was not obvious to me. Realizing I could develop my own structure and self-help guide was a game-changer. I thank Juliette Sakasegawa for her guidance in her article “Do it Your Way! Listen to Yourself and Start Living an Intuitive, Empowered Life” for helping me intuitively find my path.
It has taken me a long time to trust myself and confidently do what I feel is right for me. I have read, researched and tried new things in step by step manner in order to duplicate others’ successes, most didn’t work. I realize I can critically review and try out as much or as little as I like and that is my pathway to possibility. Identifying “my way” continues to pull me from my struggles and provides strategies to fight my way toward the positive. “My way” is a recurring theme in my life I am beginning to appreciate, it’s working for me.
The realization that my mindset mattered and I could take some action to avoid my constant feeling of despair was not a quick epiphany. It took time, and I still have to remind myself to stop and adjust my mindset.
The journey toward the change began when I recognized the things that brought me positive feelings. For instance, I was able to identify the activity and think about why it made me happy. When the why wasn’t obvious, I simply accepted the feeling. Today, I have a good list of positive activities that makes me smile.
I identified several things and have put together my list to review to enjoy when I feel negative or low. My activities include physical movement, comfort foods, connection with people, business prioritization, breaks from social media, Hallmark and Netflix binges, routines, goal setting and to-do list. I call these my game-changers. They can make or break the outcome of my day, even if I am resistant to the impact. I do not accomplish these items every day or demand completion with great discipline. This list of activities is what I return to when I feel the hollowness, pain, and anger of uncontrolled realities starting to set in and I know I need to change my mindset. It is working for me right now and I will adjust as necessary.
The Details of a Positive Strategy
- Physical movement is helping me both physically and mentally. I may not develop a rock hard ass or abs, and that is not my purpose. I will happily take them as side effects should they be the result!
- Food! I indulge in unhealthy comfort foods when I feel the need and I eat foods that make me feel better physically.
- I actively seek connections with people I love. My conversations with family have become a priority and when I think of someone, I reach out and say hello. It is simple and has provided excellent connections with people I miss.
- I invest and have made a commitment to my business resulting in a commitment to me, my professional success and goals.
- Social media. I have a love/hate relationship with this. It is a tool for work and pleasure. I challenge myself to step away from this and still have work to do.
- Movies, sweet movies. I unapologetically find joy in Hallmark movies and Netflix binging. I savor every second when I take the time.
- My daily routine is developed and I am learning to follow it no matter who is home or interrupting my space.
- I have established my goals, both short term and long term.
- My to do lists have returned and I love crossing off the completed tasks
All of these actions and routines are important to me and they are helping me feel better as well as providing a better space for me to fight for a positive mindset. There are more practices and actions I could take, these are what work for me today. I have found I have more good days when I do these things and for me, that is all the proof I need to continue them.
Prioritize Your Positive
My hope is this article provides some solace if you have felt similarly during this difficult time because this is an opportunity to know you are not alone in having chaotic feelings. It is hard right now and we are all in this together. It is time to make you a priority.
Prioritizing your happiness is important and the benefits of doing this will extend beyond yourself. Remember you are stronger and better for others when you are well.
I hope you will acknowledge your feelings. Feel what you need to feel and if you need to sit in the nastiness for a moment, do what you need to do. If you get stuck in a funk, seek support. There are people to provide this for you. Honor your feelings and needs.
If you identify things that bring you happiness, you may have to adjust the way you accomplish them for now (remember, the pandemic sucks) and you can still find the good. For example, Revisit books or ideas that have motivated you in the past and take what works for you. Just because you already read or experienced (and enjoyed) something doesn’t mean you can’t do the same thing again. Read and research what interests you. If you have an indulgence that doesn’t make a lot of logical sense and brings you joy, as long as you are not hurting someone, indulge away!
Explore and remember you deserve happiness. Times are hard and it’s continuing. I don’t believe there is one magic solution. I do believe you can find more positive, it exists in all this challenge.
Take care of you and each other and as always, keep going, you’ve got this!
Mental Health Resource
Psychology Today is a great online resource to identify someone you can talk to in your area.