Better than Hand Washing and Avoiding Crowds

Written by Melissa Kessler, MA, PCC

We all know that hand washing and social distancing are important to prevent catching and spreading the Coronavirus. However, some other things may be even better for your physical and psychological well-being. The best thing we can all do is keep our immune systems as high-functioning as possible by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and managing stress.

The media is currently bombarding us with bad news, which can add to the stress of the uncertainty and financial strains that many of us are facing due to this pandemic. These alarming messages and images, most of which we have no control over, negatively affect our energy level and our mood. Scientific research has proven that negative emotions actually change our blood chemistry and cause disease. (The Healing Field: Exploring Energy and Consciousness explains this phenomenon and ways to reverse it.)  Because of this, I stopped watching the news over 7 years ago.

It’s critical to fuel ourselves with as much positive energy as we can, and avoid negative energy whenever possible to overcome stress and difficulties.  We have to train ourselves to shift our focus when we start expending energy on negative emotions. You can do this by noticing when you are experiencing stress, anger, fear or any negative emotion. Then switch your focus to something that creates a sense of peace, love and gratitude within you, such as a loved one or a favorite memory. Do this while visualizing breathing through your heart for at least 15 seconds.  The Heartmath Institute has proven that this will put you in a calm state and lower your heart rate. By doing this periodically throughout the day (for a cumulative total of 10 minutes) whenever you feel stressed or worried, you undo the harmful effects of the negative feelings that you experience.

Here are more tips from the book Positivity by Barbara L. Fredrickson, PhD:

Decrease Negativity:

  • Dispute negative thinking – Check your negative thoughts against reality by looking at the facts.
  • Break the grip of rumination – Become aware of when you are stuck in a cycle of rehashing negative thoughts and emotions that lead you nowhere good (needless negativity). Engage in a positive activity (exercise, meditation, yoga, etc.) that takes your mind off your troubles and lifts your emotions.
  • Become more mindful – Pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. With practice, you can learn to observe the contents of your mind calmly, in a non-reactive way.
  • Assess your media diet – Pay close attention to how you feel during and after taking in media. How could you alter your media diet to cut out needless negativity?

Increase Positivity:

  • Find positive meaning – When you reframe unpleasant circumstances in a positive way, you boost the odds that positive emotions, like hope, will flow forth.
  • Savor goodness – Willfully generate, intensify, and prolong your heartfelt enjoyment of good events by slowing down and taking the time to appreciate all the good aspects of them.
  • Count your blessings – Recast aspects of your daily life that seem mundane or hidden from view as gifts to be cherished, such as appreciating how others have been kind to you.
  • Express kindness – Choose a particular day to step up your kindness to a much higher level to get a boost of positivity.

Focus on what you can control: your thoughts, emotions, and actions and don’t waste your energy and damage your health by worrying about the things that you can’t control or change.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” – Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr

“Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment.” – Charlotte Joko Beck

“Survival is the second law of life. The first is that we are all one.” – Joseph Campbell

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