Anxiety and fear are a perfectly normal response to the abnormal situation that the world now finds itself in. Whilst your brain has evolved to pay attention to threats in order to keep you safe, constant negativity is counter productive, negatively impacting your immune system. Positivity isn’t denial, it’s a powerful tool that you can use to connect with your inner strengths. Here’s how to rewire your brain for positivity during Coronavirus.
Positivity vs Cynicism
In the present circumstances you could be forgiven for scoffing at the mere concept of positivity. In nearly twenty years of working as a business psychologist, I’ve met my fair share of cynics. Spoiler alert – I quite like them. If they’re asking for the evidence or the data behind a concept, I know we’ll get on.
I get it. There’s a lot of unhelpful BS around being ‘positive’ along with victim blaming those who aren’t. Scratch beneath the hype though and one of the things that we know about positivity is that it can have a huge impact on your health. Tip too far into cynicism and it negatively affects your immune system. As a reformed cynic, I can attest to this.
The Emotional Landscape of a Pandemic
Maybe you’re feeling angry about Coronavirus, or anxious about what the future holds? Your personal sacrifices might feel overwhelming, especially if you’re navigating grief. It can feel less than easy to connect with your inner resilience during a global crises mired in uncertainty. If it feels like the perfect storm for stress and anxiety that’s because it is. The data coming out of China confirms this. Mental health needs to be part of any strategic planning or emergency response – but often, it gets forgotten.
We’ve gone from being hyperconnected to being left with our own thoughts. It’s not an easy shift. Whatever you’re feeling it’s ok. We’re all new to this. Now is a time for compassion – both towards ourselves and others. Emotionally, economically and politically that is our choice. To maintain the status quo, go back to what we’ve always done or to create something new from this uninvited adversity.
Whilst we can’t control the way governments respond to the pandemic, we can begin to place our focus on what’s within our direct control. We can view this as a period of individual challenge, an opportunity to build. To develop our resilience and rewire our wellbeing towards a more positive mindset when we need it the most.
The Benefits of a Positive Mindset
- Positive thinking decreases general anxiety disorder (GAD)
- People who develop positivity feel more optimistic and confident about approaching challenging situations
- Positivity reduces our stress levels
- Positivity may lead to greater longevity
How to Rewire Your Brain for Positivity During Coronavirus
Reframe negative internal dialogue. Learn to identify your inner narrative. When you recognise negative thinking or rumination, reframe it. For example, instead of “This is impossible.” reframe to “I’ll find a way to do this.” or “I don’t have what it takes to do this” to “It’s an opportunity for me to develop a new way of looking at things.”
Audit Your Habits
Identify the areas you want to change. Complete an audit or where you are now. What’s (honestly) working for you? What isn’t? What do you want more of in your life? What would you like less of? If you recognise an area of negativity, for example your work, or consumption of news write them down and look for ways that you could approach it in a more positive way.
Create Emotional Touch Points
Create Touch Points. Negativity is a bit of a habit. Neuroplasticity means that the more we do something, the more habitual and automatic it becomes. that means if you’ve had some long term negativity, checking in with yourself throughout the day will help you to monitor and adjust your thinking. These touch points are a useful way of building your awareness and redirecting plasticity towards something more positive.
Meditate. Find a way of meditating. The data around meditation suggests that when we do it on a regular basis, we experience more positive emotions. You don’t have to go on a retreat, focus on your breath, listen to music or sit outside and listen to the sounds of nature.
Adopt a Challenge Mindset
How we perceive stress affects how we feel able to manage it. It’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed at the present. If that’s what’s there for you now, don’t beat yourself up. Look for incremental ways that you can begin to shift your perception towards viewing stress as a challenge. Set small goals for yourself and research different ways of approaching the issue. Take a look at our free Building Resilience Toolkit and Managing Coronavirus Stress & Anxiety Toolkit for ideas. Be willing to learn as you move forwards and if you fail look for learning information that you can use next time.
If you are looking for ways to support your mental health and wellbeing, Koru Development specialise in building resilience. We offer bespoke weekly online resilience and stress management sessions along with coaching, online resilience training courses and leadership resilience coaching for organisations and individuals.