Push Out Anxiety and Fear by Cultivating Happiness
Published: Oct. 8, 2020
Now that we’re more than six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, cracks in our mental health are showing. Many of us are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress – some for the first time. So what can we do about it? Read on for coping strategies that work, and learn how to push away fear by cultivating happiness.
Strategies that work (and don’t)
People need other people. It’s one of our basic human needs. But focusing on how you interact with others can have a big impact on how fulfilling your relationships are.
- Positive framing. Focus on the best parts of a bad situation in a more positive light.
- Seeking emotional support. Lean on friends and family for comfort and understanding.
- Self-compassion. Relate to yourself in a way with the same amount of understanding and care that you would give to somebody else you love.
What doesn’t work?
- Venting. You’re letting out negative emotions onto someone else.
- Behavioral disengagement. Giving up on dealing with your problems can lead to more serious mental health issues.
More on positive framing
Human beings have the ability to take a situation and choose to see it in a different context. Sounds simple enough, right? Not always. We know better than anyone that our feelings and circumstances can be challenging, and it can be difficult to see another side when you’re in the thick of things.
But when we’re able to see the positive side of a hard situation, it takes us from being a victim of our circumstance to being a proactive fighter for our own peace and happiness. How can you make this concept work for you?
“How can I make this obstacle the best thing that has ever happened to me?”
Everyone is different, and everyone moves forward in their own way. There are some people who have extra time on their hands for the first time in 20 years. If you want to spend that time on the couch, that’s OK! You have permission to take this time and discover what will make it the most profitable for you.
Make a plan
If you’ve decided that becoming closer to your family is what will make this time the best thing to ever happen to you, then create a plan around that goal. Go all in, and be intentional. Try scheduling weekly dinners over video chat, or make your sister her favorite cake and deliver it to her door. You can still strengthen relationships with your family while practicing social distancing and following COVID-19 guidelines.
Whatever your goal and plan are, loop in a trusted friend. Ask them to step in if they see you straying off course. Even ask them to be a participant so you can get feedback once you start implementing activities. Who knows? You might even inspire them to take a fresh look at their circumstances. The simple truth is that life is more fun when we do it together.
Another strategy to try is cultivating happiness. It probably seems a little strange to talk about happiness right now, but now more than ever, cultivating happiness has a place in the world to help mitigate the fear and anxiety we’re all experiencing.
Fear is a powerful emotion. It helps us deal with threats and motivates us to take action. But these reactions can take a toll on your body. Positive emotions can undo the physical effects of stress and help our nervous systems calm down. But how do we stimulate happiness when fear is at the top of our minds?
Cultivate happiness by:
- Connecting. Make a conscious effort to reach out to friends and family daily. Schedule video chats so you have something to look forward to.
- Taking notice. Slow down, and take quiet moments for mindful self-reflection
- Being active. Avoid the temptation to sit all day. Get moving!
- Learning. Take the found time to rediscover an old hobby, or sign up for an online course.
- Giving. Being generous makes us feel good. See if someone close to you might need more help. Volunteer to pick up groceries, or send a meal to pick up their mood.
- Being grateful. Take time to be thankful. Do your part – post positive messages on social media, or send a note of thanks to someone who has made a difference in your life.
Be patient, and reach out
Remember that addressing your problems during the pandemic takes work. There is no magic pill, and there isn’t one coping strategy that’s perfect. Coping will look different for different people. If you’ve tried to deal with your anxiety, stress or depression on your own but don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, seek professional support. A silver lining of the pandemic is that telehealth has made access to therapy easier than ever. If you’ve never been in therapy before, now is a great time to try it out.
There is immense pressure on everyone during COVID-19. It’s OK. We’re going to get through this together.