With a pandemic, a divisive 2020 election, protests and natural disasters over the last year, seeing the good can often be challenging.
Making the bed in the morning can help you see the positives in the world — at least, Admiral William H. McRaven seems to think so.
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” McRaven told the class of 2014 during a speech at the University of Texas in Austin. “It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.”
McRaven’s tip still applies today. It is a simple notion, but one that shows the little things make a difference.
Kristina Swickard works for the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association, which provides legal representation to those who may not be able to afford an attorney. Swickard, the social services division chief, said there has been an uptick in domestic violence cases since the pandemic started a year ago.
Swickard said, “people need to cognitively work through issues while being mindful and being in the moment.”
Ignoring serious issues — including those escalated by the pandemic — can be detrimental. To manage stressors and shift away from a negative mindset, Swickard suggested taking a walk or playing a game with family.
Swickard also said several apps can help deal with stress, like Mindfulness Coach from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Developed to help veterans practice mindfulness, the free app includes tools everyone can use, according to Swickard.
Swickard said no one should feel like they should have to endure these challenges on their own.
“If you’re having severe symptoms [of depression] for extended periods of time and it’s impacting your ability to function, you need to see someone about therapy and/or medication,” Swickard said.
In an article for The New York Times, freelance writer Kristen Wong wrote about maintaining an optimistic attitude.
“It’s not about smiling when you don’t feel like it,” Wong wrote. “Optimism is simply being hopeful about the future, even when the present feels wholly negative. [It] can soften the negative effects of stress, allowing us to cope with and recover from trauma more easily.”
Roula Sargetakis, a communications major at Salt Lake Community College, also opted for positivity over the last year. She reduced social media use and has cut down on the amount of news she watches, replacing the time with walks and playing with her dog.
“Walking my dog is therapeutic and helps me clear my head,” Sargetakis said.