With another lockdown here, it’s easy to feel down. The uncertainty and challenges of Covid on our livelihoods and way of life can affect even the most upbeat person. It can be a challenge to see the upside in life and become an optimist when negative thoughts are holding you back and you are separated from loved ones.

In tough times, we all need to have a plan to build positive habits that will help us even when our circumstances challenge us.

Here are our 8 ways to stay positive. The trick is to focus on one habit at a time, practice it for 30-days so it becomes a part of who you are, before working on the next.

  1. Focus on the right questions

This sounds easy but is the most important habit in creating a positive mindset. When times are tough, it’s easy to find ourselves getting into a negative spiral and spending time focusing on the wrong questions, such as:

  • “Why did this happen to me?”
  • “Why do bad things happen to me all the time?”

However, you could take a more positive approach and turn your questioning around, such as:

  • “What is one good thing about this situation and what can I learn from it?”

By asking a more productive question, you can ensure you focus on a better answer.

  1. Create a positive environment

Your environment is critical to your mindset. They say you are the sum of the people you spend the most time with – what does your circle say about you?

In addition, the information you digest i.e. what you watch, read or consume can have a significant effect on your mental health and environment.

You must take action to:

  • Spend time with people who uplift you and minimise contact with those that don’t
  • Focus on what information you are consuming. Ask yourself is it building you up or dragging you down? Actively choose positive choices including self-development books and motivational programming.
  1. Take an attitude of gratitude

Starting each morning with positivity and gratitude can set the tone for the day and be a key to boosting your mood. Consider the following:

  1. What 3 things can you be grateful for today?
  2. Which 3 people are you blessed to have in your life and why?

Starting the day being thankful, can generate a positive mindset and lift your mood.

  1. Get physical

A healthy body equals a healthy mind – not just a trite phrase but a true statement. Being positive isn’t just about focusing on our mental health but our physical health too.

Regular exercise (3 x a week), quality sleep each night and eating healthy food has a huge effect on our mindset. These may sound like basic things but feeling well in your body can help you feel well in your mind too.

Taking care of your body also helps you to regulate your mood, increase your energy levels and help reduce illness and injury.

  1. Be Solution Oriented

Doing nothing about a challenge or problem is key to feeling depressed about it. Instead, open up your mind to how you could solve the issue or issues that you are facing.

To start the ball rolling, ask yourself:

“What is one baby step I can implement today that will help me move towards solving this problem?”

Taking positive action, no matter how small, can have a big effect on how you feel. Don’t procrastinate – taking just one little action can build up your momentum to take the next step and the next until the problem is solved or minimised.

  1. Concentrate on today’s problems not tomorrows!

Worrying destroys our joy. It can paralyse us into inaction and can be one of the biggest obstacles to optimism and moving forward in life. What’s worse, often we are anticipating and fretting about what might happen and not what’s actually going on in the moment. Take a reality check, calm down and stop focusing on the ‘what ifs’.

Additionally, we often concentrate on what is outside of our domain. The trick is to stay focused on what you can control. Look at what you can change and not what you can’t.

  1. Perfection is overrated

Staying positive is not an exact science – don’t be dragged down into thinking you’ve failed if you aren’t perfect all of the time. Remember this is an evolving process and change will be incremental over time.

Concentrating on one aspect of positivity each day will build this habit and strengthen your resolve and ability to be optimistic over time.

Focus on gradual change. If you are optimistic 20% of the time, try to increase this to 40%. Then, increase that to 60% and so on.

Incremental improvement is far more sustainable and is a key driver to long-term success.

  1. Keep on going

To end on a positive note. One bad day doesn’t mean all your hard work has been wasted. It’s just a blip. The trick is to recognise this and take steps to get back on the bandwagon.

Try taking some time out for yourself and undertake some self-care, phone a friend who can help you to put things in perspective or go back to one of the points above and think about what you can be grateful for.

By taking action rather than giving up, something good will always happen.

I hope this helps when you are having a low day. As one wise person said: “we are all in the same storm but not all in the same boat”. You’ve got this!