Positive thinking during lockdown

This is a blog post from Dr Abeer Hassan and Dr Dalia Alazzeh from University of the West of Scotland on why positive thinking can be so beneficial.

A disorder in reality might lead to an enduring desire for order in thoughts (Held, 2013:220). Since this pandemic is changing our reality as we have discussed in our first blog. We must seek a positive order in thoughts. The uncertainty in this disorder carries fear and unpredictability. While, it is evident that there is a diversity and heterogeneity in individual responses to uncertainty (Honkasalo, 2008:492) we shall try to conquer our fear and channel our motivation to positive thinking.

Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst. Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you are likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking. Positive thinking has lots of benefits such as increased life span, lower rates of depression, lower levels of distress, better psychological and physical well-being, better coping skills during hardships and times of stress. Positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.

It's also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles, get more physical activity and follow a healthier diet. Below is a reflection of two positive thinking echoes.

I split the day into stages. The first stage is for work. The second one for housework and the third stage for myself to keep active.  I go for a walk every day for 30-60 minutes and I enjoy my walk as exercise keeps the brain and body healthy and can help improve my mood.  I realized that the lockdown has had a very positive impact on the air I breathe. It is cleaner, free of pollution.  The fourth stage for is others. I like to check on family, friends, etc….During this lockdown, I have decided to look only at the positive sides of things and not look at the worst-case scenario to enjoy my life. I must admit that when the lockdown announced, I was upset the same as everybody else and my mind was full of negative thinking and of course following the news 24/7 made me think even more negatively. But I realized that if I will not die from covid-19, negative thinking will kill me. I must admit that this took some time from me to transfer my thinking to be positive and sometimes, I am upset, frustrated and stressed. But it is very important to always remind myself about the other side of the story and I keep imagining different settings and ask myself what if this or this happened and I keep convincing myself that although this is not the best situation but there are worse scenarios than the situation I am in at the moment (Abeer Hassan).

For me the positive thinking at the beginning of the lockdown was difficult. As I have started wondering what will happen and how I will cope. But then I have tried to change my attitudes towards spending my days during the lockdown. I thought about it as an opportunity for productivity, supporting others, and spending more time with my children. I go for a long walk and sit in the garden; it gives me the feeling that I am not trapped in the house. I try to focus on the good things like it might be the time where humanity comes together, it might be the time to treat our planet better and it might be the time to value the little details in our life. If I struggle in a day, I remind myself that great achievements sometimes don’t come from my comfort zones (Dalia Alazzeh).

Positive thinking can make a difference in your everyday life. While people normally respond differently to a different situation, it is worth trying to approach our daily life with different attitudes and thoughts at this stage. It might be the case that we need to cope with a new normal when the lockdown is eased. To maintain our health and sanity we can try to have positive thoughts  each day.

Blog Published June 2020

Honkasalo, M.L., 2008. Enduring as a mode of living with uncertainty. Health, Risk & Society, 10(5), pp.491-503.
Mayoclinic (2020). ‘Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress’. Available at:  https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950 
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