Most of us are noticing at least some signals from body and mind that tell us we’re pretty stressed. That’s no surprise, right? Two recent studies, one from the CDC and one from the Kaiser Family Foundation confirm what you probably already suspect. A lot of us are saying that our emotional well-being has been adversely affected by the pandemic.

There’s no way around our difficult realities, and our emotional responses to them are very human. But fortunately, just as we now routinely take steps to protect our physical health (handwashing, masks, keeping a distance from others, etc), we can also take steps to protect our emotional well-being. And unlike the health precautions, these things can be fun!

We can be creative, enjoy, and even laugh our way to an upshift in mood, positive emotion, strengthened resilience, and just plain feeling better.

Five Fun Ways to Thrive in Challenging Times

Far from suggesting a lapse into some kind of toxic positivity, I advocate accepting as inevitable, reasonable, and entirely sane to have far more challenging emotion now than is usual. Just as we would comfort a friend in distress, we can listen to and soothe distressing our difficult emotions.They’re there for a reason, and may have important messages for us.

And and then we can find ways to shift our focus by doing something that’s fun, uplifting and restorative. That’s how we protect our well-being, and maybe even thrive, during these challenging times.

Here are five ways to thrive that we can use right now. Along with each one, I’ve included a prompt to help get you started.

1. Laugh

Laughter’s one of the best ways I know to shift from sadness, fear, or anger to joy, openness and love. I noticed a while ago that it had gone missing from my life. I wasn’t ready to lose my sense of humor even with all the turmoil around us, so since then I make a point to look for and create reasons to laugh.

A friend and I have a running joke that started when she told me that she can’t wear a mask given to her by her office. Why? Because it’s shape makes her feel like she’s going out with bra on her face! We’re working up to showing up at our food co-op with our “bra-masks” on.

Your prompt:

 I will make opportunities for laughter by ____________________________

2. Create Something

Whether you immerse yourself in painting, writing, gardening or problem-solving, getting in the creative flow is a positive place to be. Check out this mushroom-inspired post I had fun creating on Instagram!

Your prompt:

I’m being creative today by__________________

3. Enjoy Yourself

This one might call for some permission-giving, which is something my 23-month old granddaughter has no trouble with. Last week I offered her a small taste of a delicious, stevia-sweetened (and parent-sanctioned) chocolate bar.

After each taste, she used the baby sign for “more,” emphasizing her point by also saying “Mo’ ” and giving me a significant look. Just in case I didn’t get her point.

Taking my cue from her, I’m permitting myself to do things just because I enjoy them so much. Besides enjoying the rest of that same candy bar, right now I’m having fun reading a purely escapist spy thriller that has absolutely no other redeeming value.

Your prompt:

I give myself permission to thoroughly enjoy ________________

4. Move Your Body

Do something you love that involves movement — the key words being “something you love.” This works whether or not you’re into regular exercise. Members of the Keys to Change Community recently described doing everything from virtual Boot Camp classes to bike rides, dog walks, and strolling alongside a river.

Yesterday Harry Belafonte’s Jump In Line came on the radio. I hadn’t heard in ages, probably since the last time I watched Beetlejuice. The only possible response to that song is to dance like no one is watching! Which is what I did.

Your prompt

Moving my body is fun when I  _______________

5. Get Inspired

Whether your inspiration comes from nature, spiritual practice, music, literature, or others’ acts of courage or compassion, look for those things that inspire your hope and your sense that you can make positive contributions to others.

I take inspiration from this article about 30- and 40- something men returning to their love of skateboarding during the pandemic. He’s not in the article, but my son is among them.

Your prompt:

What is something that inspired you this week?

Check Out These Previous Posts

You Made My Father Laugh, Carl. I’ll Miss You

What, Me Worry? Why Worry is Helpful – Sometimes

Inspired By Writing in The Company of Others

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