Positive thinking and hope during challenging times

In the context of the current conflict in Ukraine, it is important to be able to activate strategies to encourage positive thinking, resilience and motivation. The Czech Safer Internet Centre shares useful tips and advice to take care of the mental health of both adults and young people during challenging times. 

Date 2022-05-25 Author Czech Safer Internet Centre Section awareness Topic media literacy/education Audience children and young people, parents and carers
A sad young child being held by a parent or carer

The power of positive thinking 

It is important to remain hopeful during challenging times, to counteract the feelings of resignation and helplessness that is normal to experience in dreadful situations. Indeed, positive psychology explores the benefits of positive thinking, optimism and gratitude on people’s mental health. 

Positive thinking is able to improve physical and mental health, to strengthen our will power to cope with adverse conditions and motivate us not to give up. The person becomes more resistant against debilitating doubts and negative thoughts, which in turn can absorb and deprive us of valuable energies. Hope fosters the anticipation of pleasant things and encourages to look forward to positive events and changes. 

Keeping hopeful and optimistic is not about giving false expectations about what will happen in the future, but it helps dealing with the current reality. 

Participation and solidarity 

It can be useful to remind ourselves that states of war are meant to be limited in time, and will eventually end. It is hard to navigate through conflicts and to keep a positive attitude, which is the only thing we can have control over. Participating in solidarity initiatives and getting involved is beneficial to both the individual and the community. 

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who has experienced wars and concentration camps first-hand, regards hope as a powerful sustaining factor to support the morale, while still recognising the relevance of negative feelings as part of human life. This perspective personally helped him surviving the Holocaust and even allowed him to help the community of prisoners. 

Hope must be nurtured 

It is possible to practice keeping a positive attitude towards life despite the circumstances, to replace negative feelings such as helplessness, isolation, overwhelm. It however takes daily practice. Find some suggestions below on what can be done to fight the overwhelming fear of the current events. 

  • Focus on your breathing. While breathing normally happens subconsciously, breathing exercises have the scope to force you to focus on your breathing and take longer, deeper breaths, which help calming down. 
  • Try guided relaxation. Guided relaxation audios or soothing background music both have a relaxing effect. Schultz autogenic training, for example, is a known desensitisation and relaxation technique. 
  • Meditate. Meditation encourages you to be more present and live in the moment. It can be helpful to meditate while carrying out ordinary activities such as walking or eating.  
  • Check your sources of information. In the current tense situation, getting reliable and trustworthy news and information can be particularly challenging, especially with the overabundance of unverified and untrue news in all media outlets. Help yourself and your children getting information and knowledge about current events from reliable sources. 
  • Journaling and writing letters. It can be helpful to write both negative and positive feelings down on paper. You can either keep your thoughts in a journal or decide to throw them away or give them to someone. 
  • The power of affirmations. Some people may find it helpful to write down short positive or motivational sentences and repeat them to themselves whenever they feel stressed or overwhelmed. They can help you change your perspective on a particular problem or return to an inner peaceful state more quickly. 
  • Try therapy. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, it is instead a sign of maturity for a conscientious individual facing challenging times. Professionals in the field such as a psychologists or psychotherapists can help you find ways in which you can further strengthen your positive thinking and positive attitude to life to counterbalance crisis situations. 
  • Encourage children’s optimism. Make sure your children can see and understand that the world is not always scary and negative, no matter how bad it may now seem, with support and rewards, and by giving a good example. Let them focus on the little positive things that they can rely on in uncertain times. 
  • Focus on the present. Live in the moment and focus on the positive experiences in your daily life – going for a walk, hugging a loved one, reading a book. 

While the tips referenced in this guide originate from the Czech Republic, similar resources exist in your own country language. If you’re not based in the Czech Republic, your national helpline can provide guidance and support. To discover what services are available in your country, refer to your national Safer Internet Centre

Find out more about the work of the Czech Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.   

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