How to stay positive during the pandemic — or anytime

Tips from a Canadian Olympian to beat adversity, set goals and change how you’re experiencing life during COVID-19

Grandfather and grandson with face mask. Grandfather applying on medical mask to his grandson

You’re not alone if you’re been feeling anxious, stressed or aimless as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Take a day to experience and acknowledge those emotions before setting goals to help you move forward and stay positive, even if you’re staying at home.

That’s just one of many tips in this national inspirational webinar on overcoming adversity by Canadian Olympian and former CFL player Jesse Lumsden — one of a series of Amica webinars for seniors, families and caregivers.

The athlete shares compelling examples from his own life to demonstrate how ancient philosophical teaching can provide a helpful roadmap for achieving goals and dealing with change in modern times.

Dealing with disappointment

Serious or sustained misfortune or difficulty — that’s the meaning of adversity, and it’s an apt description of the uncertainty we all face during COVID-19. It also describes some of Lumsden’s trials and tribulations over the years. Half of his six years in professional football ended with season-ending surgeries, he was cut from three professional football teams, missed out on an Olympic medal by .07 seconds and experienced a cancer scare.

Find inspiration in ancient history

It might sound unexpected for a young athlete to look to ancient history for coaching, but the teachings of philosophers fuelled Lumsden to grow from a football player to an Olympic bobsledder to a businessman today. From stoic philosophers such as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, Lumsden learned that while obstacles are inevitable, if he kept creating and progressing toward new goals, he became more resilient, upbeat and successful in the long run. Likewise, practicing meditation, learning a new skill online or reading philosophy are three ways Canadians of all ages can help manage fears, doubts and uncertainty around COVID-19. Watch Lumsden’s webinar to discover three of his favourite philosophy quotes and how to apply their lessons to your life.

Deciding on a purposeful goal that’s meaningful to you can keep you focused on moving forward rather than watching an endless stream of COVID-19 news and case number updates. A few ideas:

*Learn a new language with an app like Duolingo
*Choose from thousands of online classes
*Set aside time for virtual visits to museums every day
*Explore virtual tours of nature and wildlife
*Get creative with AGO Makes instructional art videos from the Art Gallery of Ontario
*Double your daily fitness time: for inspiration, Lumsden points to a man who ran the equivalent of a marathon on his balcony during the lockdown

To help you stay accountable, be sure to tell your friends about your goal or post it on social media. Just remember: It’s okay to feel nervous, uncomfortable or to face setbacks. “Keep pushing yourself – even if you don’t achieve your goal, you’ll learn that you can go further than you thought,” says Lumsden.

Flip your perspective

When you notice yourself dwelling on negative thoughts, stop yourself and consider what you’re grateful for, and what you can do. This is one of Lumsden’s top takeaways from Marcus Aurelius. “I understand that I’m in control of my mind and my thoughts,” Lumsden explains. “I have the ability to change my perspective, which will allow me to get up back on my feet.”

Learn more about Lumsden’s logic in his webinar, plus hear from Andrea Prashad, Amica’s VP of Resident Experience, as she outlines how Amica has proactively overcome COVID-19 challenges. Be sure to follow Amica Senior Lifestyles on Facebook, too, to learn more about other upcoming Webinars for Seniors with nationally recognized experts. From learning how to draft a will to healthy and safe socializing tips, Amica empowers seniors and their families to stay informed and engaged.

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