Only a few months ago we were ringing in the new year, the new decade, filled with so much excitement and wonder about the year that lay ahead. Then in December and January, bushfires ravaged the country. But we banded together and came out stronger. Then, there were the devastating floods, which we one again overcame.
Now on a global level, we’re amid a war that no one saw coming. But it’s a war with a common enemy. To beat it, we must rise and come together not just as Australians, but as a collective human spirit. We can and will beat this coronavirus pandemic, but there’s no denying the next few months are going to be tough. In the end, it will be OK. As we are told to keep ourselves away from loved ones and stay home as much as possible, it’s natural we’re all feeling a little on edge, a little sad or anxious. It’s not an easy thing to do. Humans are social creatures. We crave human interaction. We crave each other. And now, we’re being told to keep our distance.
Things are uncertain. Grocery shelves are being wiped clean. We’re seeing the worst of humanity come out. And yet, we’re also seeing the best. We’re seeing kindness for our neighbours, compassion for our elders. The good this pandemic is bringing out in people far outweighs the bad. Chances are though, you’re still feeling a little helpless, hopeless and lonely. And that’s OK. This will end, and we won’t ever again take for granted the beauty of a Friday night out, full shelves at the store, coffee with a friend or a handshake with a stranger. But for now, while we’re fighting this war, what can we do to stay positive? We’re keeping our bodies healthy by staying home, but how do we keep our minds healthy too? If you’re feeling like you need a positivity boost, here are some ways to cope.
We’re more connected than ever before, which is both a good and bad thing. During coronavirus times, we obviously all want to stay informed, but trust us when we say you can be overly-informed to the point where you drive yourself loopy with information-overkill. So, one way to remain positive and hopeful is to reset your relationship with the internet and social media by controlling how, where and when you consume news.
The news works in mysterious ways and the more negative the news, the farther it reaches. That means we are so much more exposed to bad news than good news. And, people have the tendency to amplify bad news by sharing it across their social feed, which means the more you check your social feed, the more “bad” news you’ll be exposed to. A simple way to monitor and control your news consumption is by only allowing yourself to check social media a few times a day, and choose which sites you consume your news from (try picking one or two trusted sites). For example, you could spend ten minutes in the morning, at midday and then in the evening on social media and news sites, but no more than that.
Call - Don’t Text - Your Loved Ones
Humans are social beings and can very easily feel isolated and alone without face-to-face contact. And while being online too often can negatively impact your emotional wellbeing, when using it for the right reasons, the internet is a truly powerful resource, allowing us to embrace digital communities and connections. So, use the internet to your advantage and connect with others digitally. Did you know Sydney launched its first “virtual nightclub” last Friday? Chances are in the coming weeks, there will be plenty of innovative and fun ways to digitally connect with your friends, family and strangers, so keep a lookout for ways you can engage online.
However, when it comes down to it, there’s nothing quite like picking up the phone and hearing the voice or seeing the face of your friends and fam (god bless Skype and FaceTime!) If you’re fingers are tired from typing and texting, hit the call button on your phone and speak in real-time to your nearest and dearest.
You know how people say fake a smile until you actually feel like genuinely smiling? There’s merit to that tactic, but sometimes, keeping positive is more than just smiling. Positivity is actually the science of optimal human functioning (i.e. being the best we can personally be). And you know how they also say practice makes perfect? The same goes for positive psychology. You’re building your resilience and mental toughness to cope with the ups and downs of life and things that happen outside your control. And did you know the more positive we are, the better our immune system is?
OK so there’s a whole range of benefits to practicing positivity, but how do you actually do it? While a lot of people have a hard time with it, mediation is a really effective way to be present in the moment and calm your nerves or anxiety about things you cannot control (like coronavirus). You can also try techniques like deep abdominal breathing with some relaxing music in the background to help fight nerves and stress. Another way to practice positivity? Gratefulness and random acts of kindness. You might have heard this one before, but practicing gratefulness is a sure-fire way to keep you feeling positive, no matter what you’re going through. By simply identifying 3-5 things you were grateful for at the end of each day, you can retrain your brain to see the good in all situations.
Random acts of kindness can also help boost your mood and help you practice positivity. Ask your neighbour if you can get anything for them at the shops and while you’re at it, bring them back a coffee. Send flowers to your mum or bestie just because. Reach out to a friend you know is struggling during this time and ask how you can help.
Time’s are tough right now, but as humans, we’re tougher. Coming together (but not closer than 1.5m!), we can and will fight COVID-19 and we will be all the stronger and more connected for it. We will be better for and to each other, because of the worst.
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