There Is Power in Positivity in the Midst of COVID-19
By Sharon Flowers
Faculty Member, School of Arts and Humanities, American Military University
I was awakened one recent morning by the sound of the rain, and my immediate thought was that I am grateful for another day. In the midst of this pandemic, so many have lost their lives, and others are barely holding on during this new normal we are all experiencing.
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A few days ago, I read an article online about a mother who recently lost her daughter to suicide. The mother said that she did not realize how severely the quarantine and social isolation of COVID-19 had affected her daughter. We are definitely living in a time that is totally rare and unusual. I have seen so many COVID-19 posts on social media about feeling stressed and/or having issues with anxiety!
What Is Stress and Anxiety?
Stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental and emotional reactions. Anxiety is our body's natural response to stress. It's a feeling of fear or apprehension about what's to come.
Many of us try to stay current on the news updates about COVID-19, but most of these updates are grim to say the least. It’s rare to see any updates on those who have survived this horrible virus.
So how can we remain positive and reduce our stress levels in the midst of these uncertain times like the current COVID-19 pandemic? The power of positive thinking can help reduce stress and improve your overall health.
What Is Positive Thinking?
Positive thinking does not mean burying yourself from the outside world; it means you choose to see the good. An old question that is often asked is “Is your glass half-empty or half-full?” How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you're optimistic or pessimistic.
Positive thinking starts with self-talks — those endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run constantly through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of our self-talk derives from logic and reason. Others may arise from misconceptions that we create because of a lack of information. However, you can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking.
The process is simple, but it does take time and practice. After all, you're creating a new habit. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:
- Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you usually think about negatively whether it's work, your daily commute or a relationship. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.
- Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
- Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed. I find something every day that will make me laugh. My husband and I share memes daily.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. Aim to exercise for about 30 minutes on most days. You can also break those 30 minutes into 10-minute chunks of time during the day. Exercise can positively affect mood and reduce stress. Also, follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body and learn techniques to manage stress. My daughter and I exercise five days a week, and we alternate who is in charge of the day’s exercise activity.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
- Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you. Think about things you're thankful for in your life.