If you feel like life’s challenges are seemingly everywhere as we adjust to our current situation, you are not alone.

Many of our people are juggling employment changes, financial uncertainty and worries about the health of family and friends, and as if that wasn’t enough, we are also learning what educating our kids from home looks like.

Whether you are juggling one or all of these things, what we are learning is that being confined to our houses is starting to take its toll.

When you're experiencing a lot of stress, it's easy to head into a pessimistic spiral, so it may be comforting to know that these feelings are shared. Many people feeling heightened emotions due to stress, as well as lethargic and fatigued. Because of this, negative self-talk, venting and difficult conversations can dominate our interactions. We also know in these heightened moments, our brains are likely to look for evidence of uncertainty, anxiety and fear, scanning the world for danger and responding accordingly.

In these times, it is important to remind ourselves that we have some control over our perspective, and with subtle shifts in how we direct our thinking, we can practise having a more positive attitude.

In our mental gym sessions with players at the club, we talk about engaging our thinking in a planned way. An example of directing your thinking in a helpful way is training optimism. One activity we are using to help the players to find the good in their lives is through gratitude journaling.

Research has shown that if you are able to journal what you are grateful for each day for 21 days, it can create optimistic thinking patterns. Moreover, if you can continue this habit over an extended period, it can lead to these physical benefits: decreased likelihood of getting sick, higher energy levels, better ability to focus, more determination, improved sleep quality and improved mood.

Here are a few activities that you can implement with your family to practise gratitude:

  • Gratitude journal: It is a simple idea - take a moment at the start or end of the day to write down (or share with loved ones) one thing this pandemic has made you more thankful for.
  • Gratitude at dinner: Many families are starting dinner with a ‘Triple W’ (What Went Well) and encourage each other to share something that went well today.
  • Gratitude text: Challenge yourself to write a text of gratitude to someone in your life – it could be a family member, a friend, a work colleague, a teammate or a classmate. You’ll be surprised at the impact a simple text can have on others.

In our current situation, it can be hard to see the positive in things, so taking a moment to notice things you're grateful for is really beneficial, and if we invest in it regularly enough, it can help us train optimism which can have significant mental health benefits.


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