With all the tragic things that are happening in the world as a result of the coronavirus, now might seem like an unusual time to talk about being positive.
Yet staying positive is a core ingredient in the recipe of successful coping in a crisis.
The purpose of this post is not to diminish the seriousness of our situation, but instead give you hope and practical tips to stay positive amid such uncertainty.
Putting You First
Self-care is often the first thing that gets sacrificed when life is busy and stressful, and people often think that taking time for themselves seems indulgent. But looking after your own wellbeing will help you get through this challenging time, and will help you to better care for others.
Now, more than ever, is the time for us to be proactive about creating small moments of happiness in our days, given the findings in psychology research that positive emotions help us to undo the negative effects of stress.
Here are a few really practical things you can do to foster positive emotions and take care of yourself in your everyday…
Turn off the news
Don't get sucked into the three-hour scroll. Monitor your screen time so you have a solid sense of your habits. You might want to schedule time to check current events—perhaps twice a day—so the news doesn't overtake you.
Stay current by reading or watching at a set time each day, but don’t let it consume you. The anxiety and fear it creates in us and our children can do more harm than good.
Turn up The Music
Music soothes the soul – so fill your day with your favourite tunes in the background whilst you work rest or play. Also your favourite artists or DJ may be using social media as a platform to conduct Live performances, these are great ways for us to connect virtually and boost our moods.
Savour the Small Moments
Even during self isolation you still have many small moments to savour. The smell of coffee, the feel of the warm shower on your back and so on. When you stop to take in these moments, rather then let them rush by on automatic pilot, you are giving your brain a chance to process the pleasure, which boosts your serotonin – the feel good neurotransmitter that helps elevate your mood and make you feel calm.
Strengthen your Connections
This is a time when technology can really come to our aid! Call, text, Face Time video calls, send funny videos of your dog...we all want to feel connected and cared for. Personally I don't like the term "social distancing" and I believe it should be referred to as "physical distancing"
Whilst we are being asked to limit our physical contact with one another to slow and flatten out the spread of COVID-19, we need to remain connected. Strong social relationships are a key to happiness, so find ways to help others—and yourself; avoid feeling trapped and lonely. Now is the opportunity to spend quality time with your immediate family at home. Take the time to hug your kids or partner, look them in the eyes, have long conversations with them. Call your family and distant friends and relatives that you may not be able to see.
All of these gestures promote closeness and also boost your oxytocin, which is a hormone that bonds people and also has a calming effect on your body. When your oxytocin levels spike they tell your body to switch off cortisol, the stress hormone.
Look for the Good in Others
These types of crises can bring out both the worst and the best in human nature. This week there were two Youtube clips that went viral in Australia about toilet paper. One was of three grown women fighting in Woolworths over a packet of toilet paper. The other was two young children dragging a large cart of toilet paper behind them and stopping at the homes of elderly people in their neighbourhood to give them a roll. Philanthropists are donating money to scientists to find a cure. Doctors and medical staff are working overtime to help sick patients. Neighbourhoods’ are putting together care packages for people who are sleeping rough. People are posting positive messages on social media. Friends from across the globe reaching out to each other. When we tune into these positive and pro-social aspects of the crisis, we are united in hope.
Take Care of Your Body
This is important for health and also for mood. Get enough sleep, wake up at a normal hour, eat healthy food, don't drink too much alcohol, stick to a regular routine of personal hygiene and dress, and in particular...
This may be tough if your normal exercise routine is disrupted. Figure out how to keep active. Even in a small space you can do yoga, you can watch YouTube videos for cardio work-outs, you can use exercise apps, or one of many other resources to give you a work-out at home. Drag those dusty hand-weights out from under the bed. And remember to stand up and walk around frequently.
Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous—such a petty gesture in the face of an overwhelming challenge—but over and over, people tell me that outer order gives them a sense of inner calm and inner focus. It's irrational, of course, but it's true. It's concrete action that will lead to a visual improvement. So even if it's not rational, it can be helpful.
Look for Ways to Help Others
One of the best ways to make ourselves happier is to make other people happier or safer, or calmer, or better prepared. Look for ways to help others, to make sure they're prepared and let them know you're looking out for them.
Soak Your Cares Away
And finally, this would have to be my favourite... Take 40 minutes out - shut the door on your work, family, room mates, kids, chores and run a bubble bath. Ancient cultures have long believed in the healing effects of water. Take time out to care for yourself, by using water in a symbolic way of washing away your day and releasing energy.
Wishing you all health and well-being right now!
About the Author
Anastasia Lambadaridis is the founder and director of save our skin + the world we live in and she ardent about making a difference. Anastasia embarks on educational campaigns targeted at local community groups, parents and business networks… prompting people to make small changes in the home and workplace about the way they care about themselves + the planet. Anastasia is also not shy at exposing the truth behind the brands that lead the public to believe that their products are natural, good + healthy.