15 Ways to Maintain Optimism on the Hardest Days

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As I scanned the headlines, I came across a recent poll that stated the Parent’s Family Optimism score is 74 percent during this pandemic. My immediate response was excitement. Yes, we are maintaining hope and confidence in the future even when life has been turned upside down. My delayed response was fear. Oh no, that score must remain strong, which may be impossible with the long-term impact of shelter-in-home and mental health.

My mind then shifted into self-reflection gear. If asked in that poll, I would be in the 26 percent no optimism category. It had been a gloomy week with lots of hard news, change, exhaustion, and uncertainty. My record this week on the optimism scale was 1-6 with one day of optimism. Not good. Suddenly, two personal challenge questions entered my mind. 

  • How do I maintain a healthy personal optimism score as the stress continues? 
  • How do I maintain a healthy family optimism score as the uncertainty continues?

I can do this. I can do that. The brainstorm turned into these 15 ways to help me and my family maintain optimism. 

  1. Establish a fixed wake-up and bedtime for you and your kids. Keep your body clocks on track.
  2. Watch the sun rise. Focus on the new beginnings that the day will bring.
  3. Complete a morning routine that energizes you. Get your mind, body, and soul going with meditation, exercise, cup of coffee or heart healthy breakfast.
  4. Depending on the age of your kids, set the expectations for your work demands and availability. Give instructions to the kids about their school and household responsibilities.
  5. Work normal office hours. Resist the temptation to work more hours. Work smarter, not harder.
  6. Take breaks often. Step away to refresh your mind and stretch your legs.
  7. Take a full hour at lunch. Fuel your body. Engage with your kids and spouse. 
  8. Take a drive and play fun car games. Find the letters of the alphabet. Uncover the mystery object with I Spy.
  9. Play like your kids do. Draw with sidewalk chalk. Challenge the family to a driveway game of PIG or Four Square. Have a tea party. Practice your aim with a Nerf war.
  10. Find 30 minutes of alone time to rejuvenate yourself. Take a walk or a run. Read a book. Practice your musical talents. Dive into your hobby. Do something for you. 
  11. Be present with your family. Put electronics away. Look in each other’s eyes and talk. 
  12. Cuddle with your spouse. Hold hands. Comfort each other through touch.
  13. Enjoy nature while social distancing. Talk a walk or a hike. See the spring blooms. Hear the bird’s songs. Feel the soft grass. Sit on a bench. Catch a fish. Just be.
  14. Cook meals as if you run a family restaurant. Pick the waiter/waitress, sous-chef, chef, and dishwasher. Watch the creativity explode with their new found roles. 
  15. Watch the sun set. Find gratitude from the day’s high moments. Resolve the challenges from the day’s low moments. Take a deep breath and relax. 

What are your 15 ways to maintain optimism? Your list may be similar to mine or completely different. Either way, the fact that you are thinking about it is a win. The challenge is to find ways to maintain optimism even when you have a 1-6 week with only one day of optimism.

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