Thursday, March 19, 2020

7 Tips to help you kick coronavirus stress to the curb

Yes, you can feel happier despite Covid19. Humans can hold dueling thoughts in their heads and survive. For instance, we have the ability to compartmentalization, and that’s not always a negative.

As one psychologist says, "Compartmentalization is not about being in denial; it’s about putting things where they belong and not letting them get in the way of the rest of your life."

Neuroscientists say there is increasingly more evidence that what we think and do shapes us well after childhood, but we must take steps to change our brains ourselves. Practicing a positive mindset can even boosts our immunity.

Here are some tips that I need to remember. Maybe they will help you, too.

1.     Play music that makes you want to dance. Uptown Funk and some old school R&B jams still get me going, Earth, Wind & Fire, Prince, Funkadelic, Marvin Gaye, etc. Maybe some disco or some Elton John, Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, too. This doesn't mean there aren't plenty of more recent songs out there to get you on your feet. 

2.     Fake out your brain by smiling. No, this not the, "Oh you're a pretty young lady, so smile more" patriarchal advice. This is science. Smiling can trick your brain:

o   "A smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin. “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression,” says Dr. [Isha] Gupta. “Low levels of dopamine are also associated with depression.”

o   And there's more: "“What’s crazy is that just the physical act of smiling can make a difference in building your immunity,” says Dr. [Murray] Grossan. “When you smile, the brain sees the muscle [activity] and assumes that humor is happening.”

3.     Strike a power pose or victory, as illustrated in the photo with an image of 1970s Wonder Woman Lynda Carter and Amy Cuddy, chief promoter of “psych yourself out” poses on TedTalks. You can fool your body and mind into feeling better daily.

4.     Practice mindfulness also known as meditation. I like the guided meditations at UCLA Health. People who meditate tend to have a more positive mindset, and they are less likely to have as much cortical thinning, according psychologist Rick Hanson. Evidence indicates that people who meditate lose fewer brain cells than those who do not meditate. Also, cortical thinning, while part of the aging process, is linked to a lowering of IQ. The last thing you need in a crisis is a loss of IQ points.

5.     Avoid dwelling on negatives, meaning clear your head of resentments and regrets. Hanson says the practice of controlling where you put your attention is called “self-directed neuroplasticity.” Try replacing dwelling on your trials and tribulation with gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal may be useful. Hanson asserts that we can “use the mind to change the brain to change the mind for the better.” Read Hanson’s tips about how we can “take in the good” here.

6.      Look for ways to help others, which prevents you from dwelling too much on yourself. Here’s the science, “The Secret to Happiness Is Helping Others.”

7.     Finally, take a good look at what you’re eating regularly. See this article: “Changing Your Diet Can Help Tamp Down Depression, Boost Your Mood

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