By Jon Hall
The world has completely lost its mind – I’m sure many reading would agree with that statement. Every day, there’s a fresh deluge of current events and news that takes precedence over whatever news cycle might have come before it.
Just last month, representatives of Congress allegedly performed insider stock trading before the coronavirus caused nationwide lockdowns. Effectively, elected officials profited hugely off of using non-disclosed information to absolutely no consequences. Now, the scandal isn’t even a blip on anyone’s radar.
At the beginning of the year, Australia had massive brushfires and Brexit saw the United Kingdom withdraw from the European Union. That feels like ancient history after the whirlwind of a year we’ve had, though.
If you’ve found yourself growing numb – don’t feel guilty.
With the majority of the nation ordered to stay at home, anxiety and worry and uncertainty have taken root for most. A recent study reveals that 95% of emotions people experience are negative, with only 5% being positive.
The breakneck speed of the media only exacerbates any feelings of anxiety plaguing us, and that seems to be intentional.
With so much information thrown at us every day to digest, two reactions can occur: the already overwhelming levels of stress impacting Americans will rise or the headlines and stories from media outlets all blur together and essentially lose any meaning.
Marc Brackett, the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence who conducted the study, detailed that he’s never seen anything like the current mentality of the U.S. before:
I’ve done big studies on this before, and it’s never been these kinds of feelings. Never have I done a project where -across 5,000 people across the United States, and even other countries – 95 percent of the words people came up with were overwhelmed, anxious.
It’s no surprise, if you really consider it. The coronavirus has shut down restaurants, bars, movie theaters, concerts, outdoor events; seemingly anything that could be considered a fun distraction has been canceled by the pandemic.
In turn, many are being forced to take a look at themselves, with the classical ideas of fulfillment and even stoicism returning back to a populace that would rather be more focused on content over any of the merits self-reflection may have.
With the media constantly pushing out stories and headlines trying to take advantage of the uncertainty regarding the coronavirus along with nationwide orders of only leaving your house when absolutely necessary – and social distancing guidelines for when you do – choosing optimism is a daily battle.
Focus on what you can change, not on what you can’t.
Lots of people are stuck on a one-lane track when it comes to their mental health. Many obsess and fret over salacious tidbits of information they glean from the news or their smartphones every minute of every day.
When you obsess over what’s out of your control, you can feel both stressed and overwhelmed in the mindset that your actions have no input on changing course from catastrophe and, eventually, this poisonous mentality causes the mind to eat itself.
Instead, focusing on matters that are able to be controlledin a time of such incertitude conversely expands your mind and attitude:
Anything as simple as ranging from taking a walk, lifting dumbbells, or going on a bicycle ride can not only be beneficial to your body – it also vastly improves your mood.
It doesn’t matter what you do, just put down the remote or video game controller and get to it.
If you like fiction… go for it. If you like non-fiction… go for it. If you like writing… go for it. Did you know that Shakespeare wrote several of his most famous plays during a plague?
Reading and writing help keep the mind sharp and well-honed.
In today’s constantly connected, 24/7, digitized world, menial suggestions like spending a day doing yardwork or sitting in your backyard and listening to the birds chirp seems redundant.
However, in my thinking, there is no better escape than hiking a wooded trail or using a Sunday to mow your lawn and maintain your outside property.
Mindfulness doesn’t always have to mean the Buddhist idea of meditation. Mindfulness can be making a conscious decision to make good choices and choosing your attitude. Meditation, though, could be a great method to turn to during quarantine.
The most vital aspect of mindfulness is choosing to have a good day and promoting positive energy. Instead of focusing on the exclusively negative factors that seem to be currently dominating American life, you can choose happiness.