With all the tragic things that are happening in the world as a result of the coronavirus, now might seem like an unusual time to talk about being positive. Yet staying positive is a core ingredient in the recipe of successful coping in a crisis.
Now, more than ever, is the time for us to be proactive about creating small moments of happiness in our days.
A few really practical things we can do to foster positive emotions.
- Savour the small moments: Even during lockdown we still have many small moments to savour. The smell of coffee, the feel of the warm shower on your back and so on. When we stop to take in these moments, rather than let them rush by on automatic pilot, we are giving our brain a chance to process the pleasures, which boosts our serotonin – the feel good neurotransmitter that helps elevate our mood and make us feel calm.
- Strengthen our connections: For those of us in family lockdown, now is the opportunity to spend quality time with our loved ones. We can take the time to hug our kids or partner, look them in the eyes, have long conversations with them – all of these gestures promote closeness and also boost your oxytocin, which is a hormone that bonds people and also has a calming effect on your body. When your oxytocin levels spike they tell your body to switch off cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Look for the good in others: These types of crises can bring out both the worst and the best in human nature. I like to think that the best in human nature is rising to the coronavirus challenge. Philanthropists are donating money to scientists to find a cure. Doctors and medical staff are working overtime to help sick patients. Neighbourhoods are putting together care packages for people who are sleeping rough. People are posting positive messages on social media.
By tuning into these three silver linings, we can potentially change our brain chemistry and build up our energy stores to help us cope with the other aspects of our day that have been made more difficult.
Taking charge of our mental health and capturing the small moments will help us as we go further into the unknown.