Maintaining A Positive Mindset in A Pandemic
Written By: Susie Spann
When I wake each morning I check various news sources to see what tragedy unfolded while I slept. At least once an hour I check my phone for news of what has just happened. Has another riot broken out?
Has another life been taken during what should have been a simple procedure? I go to bed at night worrying about the issues that piled up during the day. There are days when I can’t even remember what day of the week it is; my mind is so preoccupied with negativity that I have lost focus.
I doubt I am alone, although I am certain many people are dealing with #2020 better than I am. There may be a few who are handling it worse than I am. If so, my heart goes out to them. This has been a roller coaster ride and it isn’t over yet.
So how do we deal with this constant turmoil, violence, and uncertainty?
How can I cope as an individual and, hopefully, provide a support of some kind for those who may be having a difficult time as well?
I am a big fan of mindfulness gurus. I keep several audiobooks on standby to motivate and guide me when I need a boost. Yet just listening to these focused leaders is not enough. Taking action on their lessons is easier said than done.
Why do I sound as though I am bashing the mindfulness set? Because there is more to it than just listening. Even the mindfulness gurus will tell you that at some point you have to take action.
So. There it is. Take action.
Where should I start to take action for my life?
Start with the basics, I guess.
I looked at the first paragraph in this post and these words jumped out at me: news, news, riot, life
taken, worry, negativity and loss of focus. “There’s your problem, Vern,” to borrow the catch phrase of one fictional character from the past.
I like number three, so let’s break this down into three steps.
1. Limit exposure to the negative news and propaganda.
If news is the first source of my inner turmoil, maybe news should not be such a big part of my day.
Upon just a little consideration, I realize that news that happened overnight or in the morning does not undo itself throughout the day. It will still be available later, after I accomplish my daily tasks, chores, and routines. I can build a short list of reliable sources to access at a controlled time of my choosing, rather than spontaneously viewing or listening to random sources throughout the day.
2. Consume higher amounts of positive information sources.
For every piece of negative news, I should ingest at least two positive information sources. This does not mean burying my head in the sand and denying the reality in which we live, but there are still many good things to see, hear, feel, or even smell. I love documentaries, and some of them are humorous or lighthearted. A single 45 minute documentary on the history of cheese (not to be cheesy, but I do love dairy) can take the place of several short bursts of unreliable and negative news sources. I have used playlists for music and videos in the past, and I think that creating a playlist of lighthearted and positively informative videos, audio books, and podcasts can be a great alternative to binge consumption of negative news. In fact, I looked through my YouTube playlists and found one that I use regularly called simply “Learn.” The videos on this list range from building a rocket mass heater to dealing with narcissism. I had already created the relief I need without realizing how important it would be to me at this stage.
3. Practice daily self care.
This can include meditation, contact with friends and family in person or through Zoom or other technical venues depending on current circumstances, and old school activities such as reading a book (listening to audio books) or beginning a new project (baking, paint the bathroom, etc.) Focusing on the basics such as the five senses is an idea as well, and one that I often neglect when I allow televised news sources to dominate my world. For example, I have a small garden with a few vegetables still flowering. There are scents from the earth, sounds of bees buzzing around the flowers, and the vivid visual and physical contrast between a soft yellow flower and the growing shape of a butternut squash. I have several puppies that will be up for adoption soon, but they are cuddly and playful now, a welcome distraction and a form of self care I take for granted.
This is what my new Playlist 2020 contains. What does your list look like?