Coping with Adversity Positively: The Coronavirus Edition


We often hear the statement “be positive” or “think positive.” But how easy is it to be positive while experiencing a global pandemic such as COVID-19? Not so easy at first.

What we can do however is learn how to manage our anxiety and fears more effectively. It is important to understand that being anxious right now is totally normal and to give ourselves the space to fully feel and accept our feelings. Accepting our feelings and allowing ourselves to feel them fully plays an effective role in reducing their negative impact on us. While it may be counterintuitive to some, accepting our feelings also makes our feelings more manageable and easy to tolerate.

Once we allow ourselves to accept our feelings, we can then move on to teaching ourselves to think positively.
What does thinking positively mean? Thinking positively doesn’t mean I ignore the negative or scary aspects in my life or a certain situation, rather, it means I teach myself to focus on the positive aspects of my life or situation.

Our thoughts create our reality. If I teach myself to think positively about a certain situation or scenario, then I will be more likely to notice the positive aspects of a situation. This doesn’t mean that all the bad goes away, but rather that it’s the positive I train my brain to focus on.

Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational Emotive Therapy, believed that most humans were born with a larger proportion of irrational and negative thoughts. He believed that being “positive” was something we need to train ourselves to be.

One way that we can train our brain to think more positively is by using positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are positive statements that reinforce positive thoughts, feelings, or attitudes. Repeating these affirmations daily (a minimum of 10x per day) help train our brains to think more positively.

As increased stress and negative thoughts decrease our immunity, thinking positively can play a pivotal role in increasing our immunity and greater resistance toward COVID 19 and the common cold, increasing our overall life span, lowering our rates of depression and levels of distress, and equipping us with better coping skills during hardship and times of stress such as the current period.

So if you feel a fever coming on, or feel your nose is a bit runny (stay at home and take the necessary to keep yourself and others safe) and rather than get lost in the vicious cycle of negative thoughts about COVID-19, try saying this to yourself:

“My body is healthy and can overcome anything.”

Take a few breaths and teach yourself to focus on the present. Anxiety or depression comes from the future or the past, but there is no fear, anxiety or depression in the present moment.

Focus on one thing you can see in front of you, taking in the details, the texture, the feel of the ground underneath your feet, the movement of the air in your face. Remind yourself, that while we may not be able to choose our thoughts, we are able to choose how we want to respond to them.

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