Keeping a positive outlook in the time of coronavirus – The State Journal-Register

Posted: April 26, 2020 at 11:52 pm

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Governor JB Prizker announced last week that schools will remain closed for the rest of the semester and the stay-at-home mandate will be extended for another 30 days due to the coronavirus. While the daily new cases in the U.S. appear to have reached a plateau, deaths are still on the rise and COVID-19 patients still occupy over a quarter of all hospital beds. Even when things reopen, weeks to months from now, the world wont be the same as what we remembered. Itll be a slow and cautious ramp-up with the possibility of returning to quarantine.

Many are already feeling the social, emotional and economic blow to our well-being and worry that the worst is yet to come. However anxious we are for things to return to normal, its important to remain calm and constructive during this time. A positive outlook not only builds mental stability, but also can be protective for our immunity and physical health, making us more resilient as we overcome these challenges.

Weve collected 10 actionable items to help you stay mentally and emotionally optimistic:

1. Prioritize and find a purpose to your day. Focusing on things within your control mitigates the stress associated with uncertainty. Make a checklist of what youd like to accomplish each day. Exercise discretion on which meetings you will call in and whats the best use of your time. Also, dont beat yourself up for not being hyper-productive. Its ok to not finish everything on your list. Allow yourself a little leeway.

2. Start your day with a positive routine. Morning routines become even more important during times of crisis. Mentally ground yourself when you wake up smile, meditate for a few minutes, think of three things to be grateful for.

3. Seek information from reliable sources. To avoid the fear and panic that misinformation can cause, get updated on whats going on from official websites and health care agencies: Coronavirus Task Force (; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (; The Illinois Department of Public Health (; and Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center (

4. Limit news intake from TV and social media. Excessive exposure to media coverage amplifies fear, doubt and anxiety. Turn off the automatic alerts on your phone. Set boundaries on your news consumption.

5. Keep in touch with family and friends. Meaningful human connections can ease the stress caused by the pandemic, especially if you or someone you know is quarantining alone. Both offering and receiving emotional support brings a sense of comfort and stability. Even though we must avoid physical interactions, plenty of digital tools allow us to have virtual happy hours for adults and playdates for kids.

6. Build in time to relax and recharge. Take regular breaks from working-from-home tasks to refresh your brain and mind. Breathe and relax. Step outside to get fresh air. Read an uplifting story or watch a funny clip to feel a momentary jolt of joy.

7. Practice self-care. Make sure you sleep, exercise, hydrate and eat a balanced diet. This ensures that your immune system stays strong and your mind is focused and clear to tackle the day. Role model self-care for your children.

8. Invest in yourself. See the extra time you have as a prime opportunity for self-improvement. Dont use all of it to binge watch Netflix! Enhance your career by working on your resume, taking online classes or studying for a certificate. Pick up a new hobby and hone a new skill.

9. Talk with your children about the outbreak. Its equally important to help children cope with stress and protect them from any coronavirus nervousness. Listen to their concerns and answer their questions. Encourage them to write and draw about their experiences and emotions. Reassure them that theyre safe.

10. Put things into perspective. Resilience means that despite something going wrong, you believe you can and will do your best to deal with the situation and move forward. It's easy to get so wrapped up in the details of an event. Zoom out and look at the big picture. Avoid catastrophizing and assess the most realistic impacts. Believe in yourself and maintain a sense of hope.

Qing Yang and Kevin Parker are a married couple and live in Springfield. Dr. Yang received her medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and completed residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is an anesthesiologist at HSHS Medical Group. Parker has helped formulate and administer public policy at various city and state governments around the country. He is formerly the group chief information officer for education with the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology. This column is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The opinions are those of the writers and do not represent the views of their employers.

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Keeping a positive outlook in the time of coronavirus - The State Journal-Register

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April 26th, 2020 at 11:52 pm

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