Resources for Being Present and Remaining Positive

Information can be empowering in troubled times. Feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and confusion are normal right now. Good information, however, can help guide us through difficult situations and make us aware of how to focus on the positive. While there are a lot of opinions out there, the purpose of this article is to provide information and resources you can use to improve your well-being.

First, it’s important to understand why we have feelings of anxiety and confusion. Our brains endure great stress when we have no previous experience with a new situation. Russell Shilling, Chief Scientific Officer for the American Psychology Association, explains “You basically look like you’re freezing, but your mind is trying to plan your way through it.” The disease that’s currently spreading throughout the world is called the novel coronavirus because it’s never been identified before – it’s new. Without previous experience to help guide us, some struggle to make decisions when facing unique challenges – and this is happening to everyone, from home-confined schoolchildren to prominent world leaders. Rest assured you’re not the only one going through this.

When the world around us seems out of control, it’s important to consider two things that we as individuals can still control: our own health and attitude.

Physical Health. Many of us are spending A LOT more time at home these days and it’s easy to skip our usual exercise routine and reach for “comfort food” like oatmeal creme pies and loaded nachos. I know I certainly have! Yet we need to remind ourselves that right now is perhaps the most important time to eat right and exercise. An article written by an Italian mother giving her advice on the challenges of staying at home provides an excellent recommendation: take advantage of this opportunity to try recipes and prepare dishes you didn’t have the time to before. With that advice in mind, I recently made a Vietnamese Caramelized Pork dish that was absolutely amazing. You should try it!

As for safeguarding your health from the coronavirus, check out this video featuring Dr. Dave Price of Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City.

Mental Well-Being. Keeping your mind engaged is a great way to reduce stress, stay alert and take a much-needed break from the news of the day. Playing free online games like Mahjongg or Solitaire and watching light-hearted, family-friendly comedies can provide a healthy distraction. Starting an indoor herb garden or ordering plants for your home can brighten your mood.

Emotional Security. Staying connected with friends & family and even playing online games with others gives us the emotional support we need to continue functioning as healthy individuals. Facetime for Apple devices and Microsoft Teams for the PC platform are available for free and allow you to see the people you’re talking to, which creates a more personal experience.

Being Present. Right now is a critical time to make sure we’re being mindful and operating in the moment. Anxiety interferes with our ability to make good decisions and there are a number of ways to effectively deal with it. The abbreviated version of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is an excellent and fairly quick read. It outlines how most of us reflect too much on the past and invest the majority of our happiness in hopes for the future while providing practical exercises for how to focus on simply being in the “now.”

Staying Positive. Taking care of our physical, mental and emotional health and being present in the moment are bound to do wonders for keeping us positive. We also have to do the little things that make us happy like walking the dog or enjoying a great meal. Creating happiness in our lives is obviously different for everyone, but a recent study may shed some light on how to do so. The premise of the study conducted by Dr. Brett Ford centered on this question: If you try consciously to make yourself happier, can you become happier? In short, it worked for some and not for others. So, what was the key difference? Those who tried to become happier by doing things for themselves (chasing a promotion, buying more “stuff”) actually became more unhappy while those who did things for others (helping a friend in need, giving to others) increased their happiness. Take from this what you will but ask yourself this question, “what does it hurt to try?” Go ahead and give someone desperate for toilet paper a roll or two if you have extra. Send someone an ecard. Let your neighbor know you’re making an online grocery order and offer them the chance to add to the list. Maybe, in a society hungering for positivity, the best thing we can do is share it with others.

The modern world presents a strange paradox: our interconnectedness enables a communicable disease to spread rapidly yet also provides us the resources to survive and even thrive despite social distancing and self-isolation. This reality leaves it up to us as individuals to determine how we confront today’s challenges. Ultimately, you are the one who can be present, stay positive and contribute to your family and community with grace under pressure. Only you can make the conscious decision to be your usual, invaluable self.

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