peace sign


During this time of uncertainty and fear, many people are feeling angry, anxious, afraid, and lonely. News of coronavirus is all over social media, we have been told to shelter in place and avoid social interaction, and life for many of us has been flipped upside down. It's no wonder people feel the way they do.

Feel these feelings, for there are no “good” or “bad” feelings. The good news is that you do have a choice in how you feel—it just takes awareness and a small amount of effort. Here are a few simple suggestions to start stoking optimism and joy, which will in time leave you feeling peaceful, hopeful, joyful and inspired (most of the time!).

So, how do you stoke optimism and joy amidst the coronavirus pandemic? You start working out your brain with optimism-building exercises. Think of it like your brain’s positivity gym! I'd like to share a few of my favorite actions, activities, and resources that cultivate positivity—even in crisis.

Be Grateful and Say Thank You
Thank five people this week for something they have done for you or for a characteristic they possess that you admire or appreciate. Work to get in the habit of saying “thank you” by specifically citing why you are grateful. For example, my husband washes and makes our bed with clean sheets every Monday. And every Monday I tell him how grateful I am for his help. It doesn't have to be anything major, it's the act of feeling thankful that works its magic.

Keep a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude journals are one of the most effective ways to build optimism, joy, peacefulness, and all of the wonderful feelings we love want to experience (including love!). Martin Seligman, author of Flourish, recommends writing down three things that went well for you each evening. You can also do this with your significant other, your children, or a friend, and share and discuss why you are grateful for the positive experiences you had that day. For example, Last night I wrote down how grateful I am for my dog making me laugh until I had tears running down my face—I am thankful for his unconditional love and his playfulness! Please note that gratitude journals work best if you write in them nightly for two weeks straight and then continue writing in them once weekly as an ongoing practice.

Write a Gratitude Letter
Write a letter to someone in your life who did something for you that made you thankful. Read that letter to them over the phone or FaceTime and then discuss how the letter made you both feel. If reading the letter or discussing it makes you uncomfortable, you can also mail them the letter.

Practice Acts of Kindness
Studies have shown that performing an act of kindness increases happiness and joy. You have so many opportunities to do this right now. A recent example I read about involved a brother and sister who dropped groceries off on their self-isolating elderly neighbor's porch, and then played a cello concert for her on their front porch. A few other ways you could practice acts of kindness amidst the pandemic are buying groceries for someone in line with you at the store, FaceTiming with a friend who is lonely and watching a funny movie together, or donating some of your toilet paper to a neighbor (you can spare a square!).

Savor Life's Joys
Since positive feelings such as joy and gratitude are transient in nature, taking a pause and just simply acknowledging when you feel joyful or appreciative can be powerful. My husband rubbed my feet last night and I quite naturally felt love, gratitude, joy, and peacefulness. I took a moment to savor those feelings and then expressed them to my husband (which he then appreciated!).

Seek Out Positivity
We all want to know what's going on right now in the world. Is there a cure for coronavirus, a vaccine? Are our efforts flattening the curve? Is the stock market stabilizing? It's easy to get sucked into going down the negative news rabbit hole. I challenge you to a one-week experiment: Limit yourself to 30 minutes of news daily, then look for ways to balance some of that negative news. You can experiment with some of the above exercises, or you can also seek out positive news. The Good News Network ( is a great place to start.

About Danielle
Danielle has a Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Science and has a diverse background in the field of nutrition and health. She is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach through Wellcoaches School of Coaching and nationally certified through National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching. In the last 12 years, she has studied Functional Medicine extensively and is now specializing in functional, preventative nutrition and health coaching. She has co-authored three books including The Endometriosis Health and Diet Program, The Complete Thyroid Health and Diet Guide, and The Endo Patient’s Survival Guide. She has also authored several journal articles and continuing education courses on various topics. When not studying or working, Danielle enjoys surfing, hiking, mountain biking, yoga, weight training, reading, spending time with loved ones, and traveling. To learn more about Danielle visit her website,