In times of uncertainty it’s easy to let our minds wonder into negative territory. We start thinking of all the possibilities that lie in the future instead of living in the present. Uncertainty can bring up anxiety and fear and these emotions can have a negative effect on our brain.
According to Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, negative emotions prevent our brain from seeing the other options and choices that surround us. Anxiety, fear, and stress trigger a fight or flight response in the brain, and we become hyper-focused on these negative emotions.
In contrast, when we are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, we see more possibilities in our lives. Positive emotions broaden our sense of possibility and open our mind up to more options. Positive thinking can also build our skill set. When we associate a task with a positive emotion, we are more likely to explore and repeat that task.
If positive thinking is so useful for developing valuable skills and appreciating the big picture of life, how do we foster positivity during this uncertain time?
Take a Deep Breath
Nothing puts us in the present moment like focusing on our breath. Try this effective breathing technique for some immediate calming:
- Breathe in for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds
- Exhale for 4 seconds
- Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds.
Write About a Positive Experience
Write something short and sweet to start or end your day. Make it simple. Write down 3 things you are grateful for. It’s amazing how just this short, simple task can start or end your day on a positive note.
Schedule time for play and activity so that you can experience contentment, joy and creativity. Explore and build new skills. Maybe try a new recipe in the kitchen, make a fort with your kids, or walk your dog. Give yourself permission to smile and enjoy the benefits of positive emotions.
The Power of Positivity
Periods of positive emotion allow us to see more possibilities, engage in creative tasks, and build new skills. Positive thinking creates an environment where we can be our best selves. So smile at your neighbor from a 6 foot distance, video call a friend or family member, and stay in the present moment. You are not alone. We are all in this together, even though we are apart.