How COVID-19 Has Affected Us
It’s no secret that the novel coronavirus has turned our lives upside-down. In just a few weeks, many of us have experienced a complete upheaval in our routines, coping mechanisms and even professions. Everywhere you look, there seems to be a news story outlining the dangers of COVID-19. Staying informed about these developments is crucial, but immersing yourself in negative press can increase your stress levels and worsen your ability to cope.
In previous blog posts, we’ve outlined helpful tips for protecting your sobriety and prioritizing self-care during the extended periods of Tennessee’s “Safer at Home” order. Today, we’d like to offer another key solution for the time of COVID-19: a positive mindset. By deciding to practice positivity in your daily life, you can overcome the stress and anxiety surrounding the novel coronavirus.
The Benefits of Positive Thinking
Positivity’s benefits are far-reaching and cannot be overstated. By simply changing our thinking, it is possible to increase personal resilience and clear our minds. Studies show that people who report more positive emotions have an increased ability to quickly recover from stressful events, solve problems and demonstrate creativity. A few key benefits are especially useful during the era of COVID-19: positivity’s effects on your immune system and stress management abilities.
Increased Immunity – Immunity is one area in which the mind-body connection is particularly salient. Researchers have discovered that your thoughts can directly impact your immune system; in one study, an activation in brain areas associated with negative feelings led to a weaker immune response from those participants. In another, researchers learned that people who were optimistic about an important, specific part of their lives exhibited a stronger immune response than those who had predominantly negative views. As indicated by these studies and others, there is reason to believe that a positive mindset can boost your immune system.
Managing Stress – Research indicates that when faced with a stressful situation, positive thinkers cope more effectively than their negative counterparts. When optimists are disappointed, they are more likely to focus on resolving the situation in whichever way they can, instead of ruminating on their frustrations or the things they cannot change. The ability to effectively manage stress is particularly critical in 2020.
These are just two of the primary effects of positive thinking. Others include improved overall well-being, reduced risk of death from cardiovascular problems, increased lifespan and lower levels of depression.
How to Think Positively Each Day
Today, we’ve learned that making a small change to your mindset can improve your physical and mental health over time. If you’d like to practice positivity, we’ve outlined a few of our top tips for finding the silver lining during COVID-19:
Reframe Your Experiences – Cognitive reframing is one of the hallmarks of talk therapy. This technique creates a different way of looking at a situation by changing its meaning. Consider how it feels to look through the frame of a camera lens; by slightly changing what is seen in the frame, the entire picture is experienced differently. Reframing can be an excellent defense against catastrophizing, and it encourages you to adopt different, more positive outlooks on current events. Instead of feeling frustrated by government orders to shelter at home, reframe your mindset to instead be grateful for your health, home and safety.
Read Uplifting News Stories – One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that it has truly brought humanity together. While newspapers and online publications may brim with grim statistics, they’re also home to heartwarming stories of human kindness. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, search for uplifting articles like this. These compilation posts outline tales of donated lunches, incredible volunteer efforts, community gardens and more. Focus on these stories when you need to remember that there is good in the world.
Keep a Gratitude Journal – If you’re in recovery, you’ve doubtless heard about the benefits of gratitude journals; it’s possible you were instructed to keep one in the past, but fell out of the practice. Before you skip this tip, consider that a growing body of research has confirmed a direct link between gratitude and improved sleep, lowered stress levels and improved personal relationships. In addition to these benefits, a journal can help you to keep your experiences in perspective, or to work through your problems as you notice them. If you’re feeling bogged down by COVID-19, decide to practice positivity by writing down the things that you’re grateful for – you won’t regret it.
Find Joy in the Little Things – A key component of mindfulness is fully experiencing the sights, smells and sounds around you. This exercise can be especially beneficial in self-quarantine. Instead of running through the day on autopilot, be intentional and notice the small moments that make life rich. Sit in the sunshine, light a favorite candle, put on an old record – whatever brings you joy!
Protecting Your Recovery During COVID-19
Deciding to practice positivity can be an immensely helpful step in your recovery process, especially during these uncertain times. If you need additional support, we encourage you to reach out today. Cumberland Heights is still fully operational and has implemented CDC and WHO protocols in our treatment of those with substance use disorders. To learn more about how we can support you during COVID-19, please contact our compassionate admissions staff today.