Quarantine can be quite a downer if you’re not careful. Staying positive is a critically important part of getting to the other side of this tremendous and extraordinary time, but how can you do it?
The key is to have lots of strategies to keep you going. If you are trying just one thing to keep positive, well then you will find yourself hitting a plateau. Just like in fencing training, you have to keep changing up your strategies if you are going to keep progressing.
To help you, our readers, keep that positive attitude, we’ve put together a list of strategies to help you stay positive during these times. These came together from things that we have done ourselves, things we’ve read online, things that our fencing families have said work for them. At this point we, like all of you, are pretty willing to try anything to keep those spirits up.
1. Limit News Access
Yes, you could watch 24-hour news channels, listen to dire warnings on the radio, or visit countless websites and be bombarded with the angst of the moment. Instead, choose a single news source and decide how much limited time you’ll spend with it each day. Then stick to your plan.Resist the urge to constantly look for updates on the numbers. They are going to be bigger every day, you know that already. You cannot change that. Focus on what you can control.
2. Look backwards
It is hard to realize this right now, but there have always been major world events that turned everyone’s lives upside down. They were different than COVID-19, but not any less impactful. People have always survived diseases and crises. Always. It is a mark of humanity that we make it through tough times.
9/11 is something in our recent past that we can point to. It’s hard to think of how different life was before and after that day. Things got locked down, transportation stopped, and it spawned two wars that lasted for, well they’re still going on.
World War II is the one that I think about a lot. It fundamentally changed everything, touched everyone in the entire world. It is a universal conflict that reached into every home and family, including in our own family. There was life before the war, and there was life after. Today we are inspired by the courage and stamina of the Greatest Generation, and someday people will be inspired by this time.
Before that, there was the 1918 flu pandemic, on the heels of World War I and just before the Great Depression. Three global calamities that happened one right after the other. People survived! And they went on to thrive. This same thing will happen with the coronavirus.
3. Seek out laughter
It is a healthy thing to laugh! Not even just healthy, it is a necessary thing to laugh.
Find that funny movie that you laugh about every time. We love The Princess Bride, and laugh again and again. Old funny cartoons, or the great movies from your past. Remember your favorite sitcom that made you laugh? Now is the time for a rewatch.
Youtube or Tik Tok, if this is your thing, are full of things that will have you giggling, that will help you get out of your rut. Get a list of jokes and sit around with the family to tell them. Play a silly board came. Make faces. Laughter will help you ease the stress.
4. Help others
It really does help to build a lot of positivity when you help out others. This seems corny right? Like it’s the cheesy thing to do. It’s cliche for a reason though – helping others makes us feel good!
This is great to do with grandparents, elderly members of the community, parents, neighbors, nurses or doctors. Some people are finding strength in making masks. Some are finding it in reaching out with cards or messages to front line workers. Find something that works for you.
Support your favorite local business! This is a great way to help others. Whether it is through gift cards or messages of support.
This goes right to your own family too. Go the extra mile at home! Take on an extra chore, leave a nice note, cook a meal, read a story, or sing a song to someone you’re quarantining with. It feels good to make other people feel good, and it’s a great way to help yourself to keep feeling positive.
5. Send gifts
It doesn’t have to be much. I got a book in the mail from a friend that I hadn’t been close to in a long time, and it made me feel wonderfully engaged and positive!
You can send things to your extended family or to long lost friends. A note or a little something that is meaningful. It does not have to be much, and it is truly the thought that counts the most in this instance. If it’s safe to in your area, drop a little gift off at a local friend or neighbor without contact. You could leave a plant on their porch. The point is to connect to one another in a time that we do not feel connected.
Postcards are old fashioned, but they are so meaningful!
You can even send something in appreciation of a doctor or nurse. Frontline workers like mail carriers, the clerk at the grocery store, or the delivery people who are making things happen right now, they all appreciate the appreciation.
6. Take some ME-Time!
Self care is necessary for everyone. Children, parents, fencing coaches, teachers, everyone.
This isn’t just about bubble baths. Self care is putting yourself first. That might mean making time for that book or hobby without feeling any guilt at all. You deserve to spend some time outside if that’s what you enjoy, or to take a half an hour to meditate or do yoga. ME time is necessary for you, and it will make you better for others. It’s one of those beautiful and unusual things things that you do selfishly, but that in fact makes the lives of your loved ones and coworkers better. They benefit because you are being your best self. Win-win!
7. Stay fit
Training is important. For fencers, it gives us a sense of purpose and accomplishment. You know that you are moving forward in the right direction, and it gives you a positive sense that this will all be over someday. It is a connection both to the body and to the outside world, the “normal” world.
It’s not just about training for fencing of course. Physical activity is known to increase mood, which helps a lot when you are trying to stay positive in the face of a global pandemic. Moving the body gets us out of the mind, and that is hugely important right now. It is easy to start focusing on all of the information instead of on the reality that we are in right now. Exercise is the antidote to that!
Let your kids train in fencing as much as possible. Parents, we encourage you to participate in physical activity as well. Go for a run, do some yoga, hop on that exercise bike. Your physical fitness is important too.
This will all help with relaxation and to push yourself to be more positive in the short term and in the long term.
8. Surround yourself with only good people
There are people who are weathering this well, and there are people who are not weathering it so well. Avoid the people who are panicking, or the colleagues who are whispering about the end of the world. Get off social media feeds that you know are alarming and bothersome. You know the ones we’re talking about here!
Instead, seek out and connect to positive and kind people who help to keep your spirit up. Those who share good thoughts and those who have reasonable responses to the crisis. These are the people who you want to surround yourself with during this time.
You are a mirror for what you surround yourself with. If you are around positive people, then it will be easier to be positive. If you are around people who are not so positive, then it will be a lot harder for you to stay positive.
9. Surprise your loved ones!
Positive surprises bring smiles and happiness out. Things can feel so predictable and lost right now, with the days running together over time. You have the power to make a change for that by creating surprises.
Get up before everyone and cook an unusual breakfast. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just thoughtful. There is nothing like waking up to the house filled with a coffee aroma! You might get a group of people together to celebrate someone’s birthday with a dress up party on Zoom.
One set of our twins had their birthday during quarantine, so I put up a bunch of sticky notes with the big letters “BALLOONS” on them and we decorated our home, then baked a birthday cake. These things matter! They mean so much to the people who are living through this with you.
It does not have to be fancy or expensive. In these times, what matters is attention and care. Bring out the old board games, play charades, do anything that is unusual and fun!
10. Count your blessings
Yes, this time is like war time. It’s not a war like what we learned about from our parents and our great grandparents. This war time is one where we are home and with limited contact outside, but we are not starving. We are together with the people we love most. We cannot know the future, but we do know that things are trending better rather than worse.
Focus on the good things that you have!
You know in your heart that times will change. The world will be over this terrible situation, just as it has gotten over so many terrible situations. We have to believe in the realness of what is on the other side of this whole thing, and not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear. We have to step up to show our kids and our spouses that we are the strongest families on earth. We are together and we are strong!
The top priorities right now of course are to stay safe, to make sure you have enough food, and to make sure that you are financially stable. But not less important is the task to stay very optimistic, to stay positive, and not spread negativity onto the most important people in our lives. Go to walk with your dog, open your window for a fresh air, or sit with tea in your backyard. Don’t forget every day to say out loud “I am so blessed to have my family and friends, being privileged to have a great job, and have food and home!”
If you keep up with the more or less regular routine – work, sport, school, family dinner, and fun time together, then you will have an easier time of the whole thing. The routine, lots of tasks and work will make life look and feel more normal than it is now. It’s a bluff, but it’s a good bluff.
Soon life will be back to normal, and we all will hug and celebrate!