This year, the term 'unprecedented times' has come up more than we'd like to admit. But it's true. The year of 2020 has been filled with uncertainty and insecurity. In times like these, it's easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious and as though the whole world is spinning out of control. This is when it's important to stop, take a few deep breaths and re-centre. Two UK experts, Travis Bradberry - an emotional intelligence guru - and Nina Dhiman - a psychologist and mindfulness teacher - have a few simple tips to offer. These are purely guidelines but, hopefully, they'll help you feel more positive and optimistic in turbulent times.
6 tips to staying positive
1). Fight fear with facts
In the last few months, no one would blame you for feeling scared and overwhelmed. There's so much happening, and so much out of our control. But studies have shown that our brains are wired to react to uncertainty with fear. If that's the case, it's best to gather as much information as you can and read up so you can think clearly. Never before has information been easier to access. So before you start panicking over something you know little about, get googling. You can counter irrational thoughts by gathering facts.
2). Stay in the present
Rather than spiralling out, thinking about all the terrible things that happened in the past - and all the worse things that could happen in the future - try to stay in the present. Focus on the moment you're in and tackle each day one hour at a time. When things 'out there' seem filled with uncertainty, bring yourself back to the tiny details of right now. Break your day into small time modules. Or give yoga and meditation a try, as they're ancient ways to reconnect with the present. Otherwise, you could simply take a walk outside.
3). Go back to basics
Remember in caveman times where our concerns were about whether there was enough food for the night? And if there was a giant predator eyeing out our camp? That's when we developed a 'fight or flight' response to threats, and we have the same response reflex now. Though, some of our problems today are significantly less threatening than ones we had 10 000 years ago. If you're feeling panicked, but aren't really sure why, go back to the basics. Are your loved ones safe? Is there food in the fridge? Is there a roof over your head? It'll help you feel more calm, and more positive about where you are.
4). Listen to your intuition
According to Travis and Nina, your gut acts like a third brain - after your head and heart. Learning to trust your instincts is a crucial part of staying calm and positive when things get out of control. Tune in to yourself to see what's really bothering you, or what you're really afraid of. And, when your gut tells you something is wrong, it's probably right. Practice listening to your gut with small things. So that when something big comes up, you know what to recognise.
5). Know your limits
Despite your best efforts and intentions, you can't solve world hunger, correct climate change or eliminate COVID-19 on your own. Being able to accept that there's only so much you can do makes you human. Sure, it's important to try help in any way you can. But, when there's so much turmoil around you, don't let yourself take on too much responsibility. Rather than feeling powerless, try to see it as a version of freedom. We all want to be in control, but recognising that you're not isn't the same as admitting defeat.
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6). Actively seek the positive
Unfortunately, our brains tend to stick to negative thoughts like Velcro. And positive thoughts slide from our minds like water off a duck's back. We obsess about risk negative consequences to the point where it's hard to see any kind of positive outcome. The trick here is to retrain your brain to actively look for positives. After a while, it'll be the more natural response and you'll be able to handle even the most stressful situations. Remember, you've faced uncertain times before and come out the other end. You can do it again.