The Happiness Connection  

Stay positive during virus

When I decided to make happiness the centre of my work, I struggled with feeling dismissed by traditional businesses.

I knew how important a sense of positive well-being was for productivity, staff retention, and success, but not everyone could see the link between that and the bottom line.

Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic clutches the world, I am running into a similar sentiment. Social media posts and columns are popping up suggesting it is time to put away thoughts of rainbows and puppies and see what is really happening.

For anyone who is tempted to buy into this philosophy, I would like to express a few thoughts in defence of silver linings.

Your brain is the control centre in your body. When you physically sense something, signals are sent to your head office to be interpreted.

Your mind’s priority is to keep you alive. If it perceives a threat of any kind, it will trigger the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight-flight response.

When this happens, chemicals such as cortisol are released to give you the best chance of survival. These allow you to:

  • Be more focused on the perceived threat
  • Hear and see more acutely
  • Run faster
  • Hit harder
  • Assess your skill level more accurately.

To do this, your blood pressure increases and non-essential body functions such as digestion and reproduction shut down.

It is a great system, but it was designed for a simpler life when you only needed it long enough to outrun, out muscle, or succumb to your threat.

We are talking minutes, not days, weeks, or years.

Think about a time when someone jumped out at you or appeared unexpectedly. When you realized they weren’t a threat, you may have noticed how fast your heart was beating and how tense your body was.

After a few moments of recovery, everything would return to normal.

Stress, fear, and anxiety are emotions that indicate your sympathetic nervous system has been triggered. It isn’t uncommon for any of these emotions to last longer than just a few minutes, unless you make a conscious effort to change them.

The long-term health implications of being in the fight-flight response include:

  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration problems

With the current crisis plunging everyone into the unknown, it is easy to be consumed by negative emotions.

I’m not suggesting you pretend that everything is rosy. Give yourself time to experience any grief that rises up and then turn your energy to things you can control.

When your body feels a sensation in its stomach, encourage your brain to interpret it as hunger or excitement, not anxiety.

This is where looking for silver linings comes in. By focusing on the positive aspects of your life and actively triggering feel-good emotions, you will be happier and healthier.

  • Limit the amount of time you consume news that makes you feel negative
  • Listen to music
  • Exercise
  • Get into nature
  • Get creative with crafts, words, music, art, etc.
  • Laugh as often as possible
  • Look for the humour in any situation
  • Stay connected with friends and family
  • Get lots of sleep
  • Establish a new routine
  • Remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if you can’t see it yet.

This isn’t an ostrich strategy. I am not encouraging people to bury their heads in the sand and pretend these aren’t challenging times.

I am suggesting that the best way forward is to stay mentally and physically healthy. Being positive is a lifestyle and searching for silver linings is an integral part of that.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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