Missing the Outside: Staying Positive When We Need to Most

By: Julee Nhek

When I looked out the window, there seemed to be a couple of things that became the norm with this pandemic: people wearing masks and people staying six feet apart from each other. I remember the good old days of going on family trips or singing karaoke with friends. I didn’t realize that I will not be able to do this, as far as I know, ever again. 

It has been nearly two years since the pandemic hit. Every day I log into my computer and check the COVID-19 status update. It was devastating to see how our country became one of the most affected countries in the world, while countries like New Zealand did significantly better. For example, New Zealand had one COVID-19 related death in the past five months. Fortunately, since the beginning of 2021, there has been a decrease in the number of cases, but I’m still in my home waiting for the good news that I can go outside mask-free.

When doing the simplest things such as getting the mail or taking out the trash, I tend to forget to put on a mask. When I am going to the grocery store or the bank, of course, I would remember to wear a mask, because I see signs outside the stores that require every customer to put on their mask before they even enter the shop, otherwise, they would have to leave. I miss the usual routine where we are not required to create a large distance from each other or would not have to put hand sanitizer every five minutes. The outside right has become a paranormal activity of sorts, similar to a zombie apocalypse except for less dark. 

In this blog, I will give you an overview of how you can navigate these apocalyptic, scary times. And, I'll do this by sharing a few methods I have used to navigate everyday life during this pandemic.

Remain a Positive Attitude

No matter what the circumstances are, let’s remain positive! A positive attitude can keep us motivated in the real world, even in hard times such as now. Despite the shortcomings, we should smile like there is no tomorrow. Forget the sad news and pessimistic mindset because that will keep us staying in the past rather than looking forward to the future.

It may also be a good idea for you to start using a gratitude journal (check out our blog post all about journaling and its benefits here!) to remind you of the good things that happened during your day. I found this great article by Lifehack which lists ten tips to help maintain a positive attitude in your day-to-day life as a habit. Here are a few that I selected which are particularly convenient during this pandemic:

Start Your Day Strong - Try to get out of the habit of staying in bed in the mornings so long, especially when you are going to have a zoom call. A great example is to meditate in the morning. The time length is up to you depending on how much  free time you have. This will result in feeling relaxed and happy.

Exercising - This is not everybody’s favorite thing to do with an exception for fitness fanatics, but if you’re comfortable going outside, then running is a great option to get in your daily exercise (just make sure to wear a mask!). If you are stuck at home and going outside is not an option, dancing is a great alternative. Just crank up your workout music and dance the day away. Other exercises include stretching, using a stationary bike, hula hooping, and walking up and down the steps, which are all great ways to get moving! 

Filling Your Brain with Books, Audio, and Video - I personally have to admit that lately, I have been wanting to find the time to listen to a podcast myself. There are millions of books and podcasts online that are worth checking out about nearly every topic you could imagine. When consuming these forms of media, people can absorb this information which as a result changes people’s thinking. If you’re good at multitasking, then doing this activity can complement your other activities such as exercising, cooking, or chores. If you prefer to listen attentively then morning works great as well for this. 

Garbage In Garbage Out - This phrase spoke out to me the most. Basically, once you feed yourself with negative thoughts, then it is time to take the trash out when it is too filled up. Begin working towards a more positive mindset disposing of those negative thoughts.

Be Kind to Your Mind and Body

Just because you are stuck in your home does not mean you should care less about your appearance or mental health. I am talking about taking fewer showers, eating less healthy meals, or not sleeping enough. When you are stuck at home, It’s too easy to put it off till tomorrow and repeat the same cycle over again. Here are a few short guides to maintaining your health during this pandemic.

Personal Hygiene - Showering is the most obvious way to stay squeaky clean and smelling fresh, however, there are more ways to improve your hygiene such as putting on deodorant, applying lotion to your skin, washing your face/hands/feet/hair, brushing and flossing your teeth, etc. It is important to maintain good hygiene to prevent the spread of germs, make sure to equip travel-size hand sanitizer or wash your hands for twenty seconds with soap.

Eating Healthy - Did you know that when you are stressed, you automatically seek comfort food? These comfort foods that you’ve been eating most likely are not healthy if they are instant food or contain tons of sugar, and as many recent studies suggest “Many population-based studies show that a Mediteranean Diet has been linked to better mental health and stress resilience, whereas a junk food western diet is linked to depression and anxiety.” That is why good nutrition can help uplift your mood. The healthy foods you consume should be fresh produce, frozen vegetables, and whole foods, although It is okay to slip in a few pieces of junk food into your diet, but it is not advisable to make junk food your entire meal.

Sleeping well - Sleeping sounds very desirable right now, although not everybody is able to sleep for at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep, which ultimately depends on a person’s age. When you are doing a long activity during the day, of course, you should sleep at the recommended hours. That way your working performance and immune system can function properly. Other tips are:

  • Before going to bed, stay away from electronics or news articles for at least 1-2 hours. You’ll likely wake up on time or even earlier.
  • If you cannot sleep, you’re probably tossing and turning to get in a comfortable sleeping position, which will actually make you more awake. You should get out of bed and do something productive until you feel sleepy then return to sleep. If this method doesn’t work, then wear a sleeping mask to help block out distractions.

These are the methods that I found most helpful when I try to fall asleep.

Saying your Hopes for 2021

What was the last time you reminisced about the outside? I recommend you to sit down in a quiet room and close your eyes. Reflect on your most lucid memory of spending time outside without the need of wearing a mask. Which memory did you find the most impactful? What do you hope the outside world will be like when this pandemic ends? I found that reading quotes about hope can ease your mind from stress. Here are a few examples I found in an article by Goalcast which I hope inspire you:

  • I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty, which will protect the beauty of our natural environment… —John F. Kennedy

  • I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free...so other people would also be free. —Rosa Parks

  • They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. —TOM BODETT

  • Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear hardship today.  —THICH NHAT HANH

If you follow this advice, then you can remain positive more easily during these stressful and tough times! Make sure to always take care of yourself and don’t let bad thoughts/habits get the better of you. You are in control of your mind and body.