To promote wellbeing and resilience during the pandemic, the Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley, California, put out six questions to ask yourself each day, as follows:
- What am I grateful for today? This question pushes back against the negative cognitive bias that accompanies pandemics. Instead of focusing on risks and tragedies, pause to consider some blessing, no matter how small, that inhabits your life.
- Who am I checking in on or connecting with today? Reaching out to others creates a positive feedback loop. They will feel cared about, and you will feel positive about creating some good in another person’s life. Interacting with others, even if only through technology, is a vital self-care approach during this time of physical distancing.
- What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today? Expecting your life to remain unchanged is a ticket to frustration. Many people are challenged to let go of habits and routines that populated their days prior to the pandemic. Adopting new behaviors isn’t always easy, but doing so increases resilience.
- How am I getting outside today? Nature immersion, even by spending time in your backyard, is proven to elevate mood, quiet the worried mind, and renew hope. Physicians in Asia and Europe now prescribe “forest bathing” as an antidote to stress.
- How am I moving my body today? Modest exercise reduces anxiety, eases depression and increases a sense of personal control. In fact, exercise is more effective than antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression.
- What beauty am I creating, cultivating, or inviting into my life today? Research shows that experiences of beauty reduce stress and foster positivity. This effect is even greater when you create that beauty with your own hands. However, even observing something beautiful, such as looking at colorful flowers or a great work of art, can be helpful.
Asking these questions helps ground us in positive actions you can take to increase your own and others’ wellbeing. Consider posting these questions somewhere prominent, such as on your refrigerator door or some other location you look at frequently. Making them a part of your morning routine may be especially helpful in setting the tone for the day.
The benefit of these questions is in how you react to them. Research shows that asking a question is more likely to motivate you to do something positive than telling yourself you “should” do this or that. Instead of commanding yourself to act, you’re asking yourself what you could do. The motivation will follow.