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How to Stay Positive During Troubled Times

Updated: Jul 7, 2020

Update: When I wrote this post, we were dealing with the COVID -19 outbreak. I am revisiting this post because we are now in very tumultuous times. In addition to Covid-19 fears, we are now dealing with protests and the continued practice of police assaults and brutality, especially against Black people. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Elijah McClain, and all ones who went before them. All of this can take an emotional toll on the mind, body, and soul. I have added a few more tips (in bold) to help you maintain some level positivity so you can stay focused on your dreams.

I want you to know that you will have good and bad days, and that’s okay. I had a good crying and praying session that has left me feeling quite refreshed today as I prepare to record some video messages to my school children. I wanted them to see me while we are all quarantined in our homes. My husband and I are doing all we can to protect ourselves and our girls from this virus, but we are also aware that this is bigger than us. Please try and do whatever you can to keep safe, stay healthy, and out of harm’s way too. I am thinking especially of those who are putting their own lives at risk to help fight the spread of the disease and care for those who have already contracted the virus. For those of us at home, here are a few things I would suggest you try to keep yourselves occupied and sane until this cloud we’re under finally lifts:

Board Games: Now is the time to dust off those board games and get everyone involved. Remember a time when you spent so much time sitting in traffic and getting home so tired that you could barely keep a conversation with your family? Well, now that you’re home, take this time to relax more and spend some time with them. My kids love putting together puzzles, so we’re doing more of that.

Take Walks/Exercise: While being self-quarantined means staying indoors, many of us are still venturing outdoors while taking necessary precautions. My girls are not homebodies, they love the outdoors, so I have to find creative ways to make that happen without compromising our health. One way I’m making that happen is by having them play in the garage with the door open on rainy days. On sunny days, we take walks around the neighborhood. It’s spring here, so there are lots to see: flowers in bloom, trees regrowing their leaves, and insects buzzing. We even see a neighbor or two.

Read and Write: Reading and writing is one way I keep myself sane. One good thing that has come out of all this chaos is that I have been able to focus more on my own writing. I have also finished reading more books in the last few weeks than I did in a whole month this same time last year. Reading and writing, they say, is good for the soul. For me, this is true. Some books to add to your list are books that talk about Black history in America. Use this time to educate yourself on the history and impact of racism and white privilege. Stay as informed as you possibly can, while giving yourself frequent breaks. In other words, pace yourself because it can get a little heavy if you don't pace yourself.

Pray: Prayer and meditation are good ways to stay centered and focused on the present. They connect us with a higher power and remind us of the things we can control and the things over which we have no control, and to be grateful for what we have. Increase your time in prayer, especially during this time of increased chaos.

Stay Positive/Tune Out: Staying positive during times of adversity has been scientifically proven to lessen the impact of stress and fear on the outcomes. I’ve had my moments when shortness of breath I would normally associate with allergy season has left me panicked and waiting for the next symptom to show up. I’m sure a lot of us are overreacting to normal headaches, coughs, and sneezes as well. Let’s remember to stay calm and positive. Minimize social media interactions to only a few minutes a day. Take an entire week off if you must. The goal is to prioritize your mental health over everything else.

Ultimately, let's remember that all things must come to an end - good and bad. Life will someday return to normal. This too shall pass. I'm keeping you all in my prayers! Continue to fight the good fight by getting involved, using your voice to influence change, joining peaceful and friendly protests, and educate, educate, educate yourself - because "when we know better, we will do better." (Maya Angelou).

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