How to Keep a Positive Mindset in Times of Uncertainty

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COVID-19 and the associated consequences have created unusual, unprecedented and unpredictable times. And it can be difficult to know how to stay positive.

Here are a few simple reminders to help you and your family retain a healthy state of mind.

  1. Fear and Panic can do more harm that good.

Many are facing huge challenges through the pandemic. Others are fortunate enough to be in a position where they are able to enjoy the escape from everyday life pressures, travel to work and social demands.

For those who are under pressure and overwhelmed it can be easy to fall in fear and panic.

The problem with fear and panic is it generated more of itself. It’s a circular problem that drives itself and it can be debilitating. Fear and panic can spiral us into a state of ‘un-being’, where we feel overwhelmed and out of control. And this can compromise us emotionally and even physically, which means it can weaken our immune system.

Here are a few of the most powerful ways to avoid falling into this vicious cycle:

Keep perspective. Remember even if you or a family member are unlucky enough to contract the virus, you will likely get sick for a little while and then recover – and this is likely to strengthen your immune system. More than 98% of those infected with the virus in Australia fully recover. And those who do not are mostly elderly and/or have pre-existing serious health issues.

Take the necessary, sensible precautions such as hygiene, washing your hands upon returning home, avoiding touching your face and staying home if you’re unwell.

Follow the reminders below to protect you further from falling into fear and panic.

  1. Focus on what you can do, moment to moment.

When life feels slightly, or very, out of control, the best way to regain some sense of control is to focus of what you can do to – rather than what you have no control over at the moment.

Here are a few simple ways to focus on what you can do and stay in the moment:

Avoid past or future thinking. Basically, when we worry about the past, we’re worrying about something that is over – we can’t change it. So, worrying about the past is a complete waste of time. Similarly, when we worry about the future, most of the time what we worry about will not happen, so that too is a waste of time. Worst of all though, when we worry about the past or future, and even when we worry at all, we have lost the moment. And life is, by definition, simply moment-to-moment. This means when we worry about the past or future, we have lost life – we have lost the moment, and that is all life is. We have also lost the capacity to generate the future moments we want in our life. So we feel like we’ve lost control, which we have. If you find yourself going into past or future thinking, simply focus on what you are doing right now, moment to moment.

Stay in the moment. When you stay focused on the moment-to-moment of life, you feel more in control and secure. To stay in the moment, look for ways to draw your attention to the small things around you that you can do, and the opportunity that is available to you right now.

See new opportunities. This can be a once in a lifetime chance to try things you’ve always wanted to try, or to do the things you never have time to do. Depending on your circumstances, you could even see it as an opportunity to reinvent your wheel. You may want to write the book you’ve always wanted to or learn another language. There are great Apps online when you can learn anything from Spanish to Auslan (sign language) which could potentially enhance your career or even generate a new one. Don’t forget to include the kids: they can help reorganise the panty with you, de-clutter their wardrobes or plant a veggie or flower garden for example. Lots of rewards, perhaps through a sticker system, will motivate them. And perhaps their rewards can be online purchases such as puzzles, lego, model car or plane kits, swing ball, art supplies, jewellery making kits, or even supplies to set up a neighbourhood carwash service – all of which can keep them occupied while at home.

  1. Don’t forget the basics.

This little list of basics can provide a simple healthy mindset check:

  • Routine: As a family agree on a routine that works for everyone. This makes everyone feel more in control, especially children.
  • Sleep: Ensure everyone is getting enough sleep. Kids need at least 9.5 hours, adults usually around 8 hours minimum.
  • Alone time: If at all possible, organise with other household members some time alone every day – so you can fill your cup.
  • Fun together time: Even if it’s just half and hour or an hour a day, organise game time, reading time, movie time – or something fun and happy you can do together.
  • Avoid screens: It may be a good idea to have the daytime be a “no TV zone” which will increase productivity and prevent procrastination or distraction.
  • Fresh air: It’s getting a little cooler now, but when the sun is out don’t forget to open the windows.
  • Sunshine: Even if you work from your garden or deck, or simply in a sunny room, ensure you get some sunshine.
  • Exercise: 20-30 minutes a day is enough, even if it’s taking the kids and/or dog for a walk.

It’s important to be kind to yourself and your family members – we’re all in this together, there will be times when we feel uncertain and worried, however if we follow some basic guidelines like these we can help bring ourselves and those we love back to an empowered place mentally and physically.

Summary Tips 

  • Fear and panic feeds off itself, and can be controlled by focusing on what we can do.
  • All we have in life is one moment to the next, and this will create better future moments.
  • It’s easy to forget the basics when we feel overwhelmed, but remembering them can help us feel less overwhelmed.

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Lyn Macpherson
Lyn Macpherson

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