I have heard family and friends saying that they don’t know how much longer they will be able to take this stressful time that covid brings. Being positive all of these months is difficult because you can’t visit friends and family, you can’t travel freely like before, you have to stay inside and so on and so on.
So let’s talk about how our feelings of helplessness are feelings we create in the way we think and our attitude. Everything about being happy comes from our attitudes on our circumstances. So here are some ways to stay happy and positive to fight the depression and “down” moments experienced during covid.
- LAUGH every day for 30 minutes whether it is a fake laughing exercise or a real belly laugh from watching a funny television show, YouTube clip, talking/facetiming with friends and/or family, reading a funny joke/story/etc.
- BE MINDFUL of your thoughts and create positive mindsets, thoughts, and change negativity into positivity. Research shows that 75-78% of things coming at us are negative and more so now with covid and the political scene. So purposefully choose to surround yourself with positive things, people and activities to counter that.
- BREATHE Max Strom, yoga instructor, focuses on using breath to heal in his TED Talk. He demonstrates a 1 minute technique that can quickly lift the mood. Or you can use the 4-7-8 technique from Dr. Andrew Wile. Focus on the following breathing pattern: empty the lungs of air. Breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds. Hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds. Exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds.
- GRATEFULNESS LIST List 3 things you’re grateful for. This can be actually writing down, or just listing in your head. You can do it anywhere. Living in gratitude is known to support our physical, psychological, and social health. This can result in stronger immune systems, better sleep, feeling more joy, and less lonely. Ask yourself what you DO have in your life that is good. Today, I am grateful I get to do work that is important. I am able to breathe freely. I can walk. I have air conditioning, and coffee, and safe water to drink. I’m grateful for my sweet puppies I get to cuddle.
- CONNECT/MEDITATE/RELAX With yourself, with nature, with your God. This may mean a moment of meditation, prayer, reading something inspiring, or funny. Each of these are ways to connect with inner pieces of yourself that may bring out the very best in you. One example is the outdoor connection to mental, physical health, and some say even spiritual health. This not only means actually being outside, but also includes things like nature sounds, live plants inside, and looking out a window noticing the birds, the trees, the sky.
- THINK Think of someone who loves you. Think of someone you love at a moment they made your heart swell. Think of a moment that gave you joy, made you shout happily, or made you cheer. These thoughts trigger brain chemicals that make you feel good. The very opposite happens if you think negative thoughts—our brains are incredible conduits of our feels. For example, when thinking about romantic love the parts of the brain associated with the reward pathway and the dopamine neurons activate. When thinking about familial love, good feelings associated with attachment such as those associated with oxytocin and vasopressin releases the familial love feeling. When thinking of joyous moments, happy chemicals (dopamine and serotonin) are released.
- DAILY Plan on doing something fun and new. PLAN on exercise activity (inside games/exercise/walking), plan on learning something new whether it be a language, new recipe, taking up painting by numbers, art classes on line, cooking classes, puzzles, writing a book on your life and life experience, write poetry if that is your thing and you haven’t had time to do it before, do your family history for family legacy, read, organize closets, drawers, RV, do yard work and home improvement projects, learn how to fix something you wish you knew how to fix and so on. If you sit and do nothing everyday, you get nothing every day.
- LOVE Humans are hardwired for connection, relationship and sense of community. There is research evidence that people who participate in satisfying, long-term relationship fare better in their health then those who don’t. Here are ways love and health are connected: Fewer doctor visits according to the Health and Human Services Dept., less depression and substance abuse, lowers blood pressure, creates less anxiety in people, helps with natural pain control, helps manage stress and anxiety, fewer colds in people, faster healing according to Ohio State University Medical Center research, creates longer life, and most importantly, creates happier lives according to Journal of Family Psychology. The power of love is to be added to living every day to combat depression and illness.
- MUSIC Research shows how music is very healing and therapeutic in managing stress, depression, anxiety, and other emotions. Listening to music, playing an instrument, singing, dancing, writing music, all are tools to get you moving, releasing endorphins, lifting emotional heaviness, etc. Research finds the following to be benefits of music: shows that blood flows more easily when listening to music, it elevates mood by boosting the brain’s production of dopamine, it reduces stress, it relieves symptoms of depression, it stimulates memories, it manages pain, it eases pain, helps people eat less, it increases workout endurance, etc.
- CREATIVENESS It is up to you to create something every day in your life to counter loneliness, depression, anxiety, fearfulness. There are communities of like minded people you can connect with on social media and via live virtual means. Taking classes on line, joining support groups virtually, finding others who are feeling the same way you do and connecting with them to daily pray together, sing together, talk together and so on. These are just some of the many ways you can manage your difficulty during the covid months.