I’ve been pacing like a cat in a Covid cage; isolated from others, hungry for interaction, desperate for relationship, and feeling the stress of being alone in a pandemic. Can you relate?
Things get so quiet when you live alone. The cat meows, and I almost go through the roof at the pitch of her voice. I hear the clock ticking away – marking the minutes of my life.
Have you noticed how loud the dryer chime can be when you’re alone? The quiet of life alone is deafening.
The people on the news are so loud. They shout Covid fears or, worse yet, pretend the virus is a hoax. No wonder people are dying needlessly at a time when we should be protecting each other. Wake up… Smell the coffee.
I turn off the TV because it’s too loud. Not the volume, just the words. They’re too loud, these messengers of death and fear. Their words hurt my ears.
Whether they’re giving us the hard numbers and inoculating us with fear or they’re claiming it’s a hoax that can be cured with injections of toilet cleaner, their words hurt my ears. I turn off the TV because as a woman alone, I want to focus on positive thoughts.
While the newscasters are responsible for bombarding us with bad news, we’re in control of our thoughts. Did you know we have powerful ways to reprogram our neural circuitry? To go from the “red zone” where we’re all alone and afraid, to the “green zone” where we are at peace with ourselves and focused on the positive? It’s true.
So, here’s a technique that’s been proven to work. Think of something pleasant: That first cup of coffee, the purr of the cat (the same one that sent you through the roof a few minutes ago!).
Now close your eyes and expand your awareness of that moment, drink it into your nervous system like rain on parched earth. Absorb the positive energy of it. Lean into the safety of it and just breathe.
Here’s the beauty of this exercise in positivity. Each time you do it (I do it at least once a day, often at meals) you are building new happiness circuits in your mind.
Each time you train your mind to bring in positive thoughts and, this is the important part, you take the time to really enjoy them, you are hard-wiring your mind to be more positive.
Have you ever wondered why dark thoughts seem to have so much power over you? Or wondered why the scary words of the TV newscasters frighten you so much? Why is it so hard to think positively?
The latest neuroscience says that our brains are trying to protect us. Your mind’s number one job is to keep you safe, and you are biased toward negative thinking biologically. (Neuroscientists call this negative bias.)
And when the news gets bad, your ancient brain stem (the area where your spine meets the skull on the back of your neck) is triggered to generate a fight or flight response.
This ancient part of your brain only thinks about whether or not you are safe. If things are happening around you that feel unsafe (like a pandemic, for instance) it checks in again and again, releasing powerful hormones into your bloodstream every time the answer is “no!”
Overcoming negative thinking requires re-training your mind, again and again.
When you live alone and there’s not a “man” around to protect you, it’s hard not to feel afraid sometimes. The news of Covid has made me pace around my house like a caged wildcat!
Have you experienced feelings like these? Has it been hard for you to cope as the pandemic drags on and on? If so, just remember that this is normal. Your brain is trying to protect you from all the panicked shouting on the evening news!
So, if you too are feeling like a caged cat, open the door to the cage and let yourself out! Stop pacing! Take control of your emotional energy! Put your mind in a positive, healthy zone by taking the time to enjoy life’s little pleasures.
That delicious bite of cake, chocolate, or cheese can form a whole new pathway of pleasure when you slow down and savor it. Close your eyes and let the pleasure penetrate every cell of your body. Take your time. The longer you sit with the pleasure, the stronger the pathway you’ll build!
Even in a time of pandemic, there’s a hot cup of tea, aromatherapy (Rosemary is my favorite), and that funny old TV show you could watch again. Stop pacing and start enjoying. Savor the small joys of everyday living to beat the blues.
What simple pleasure you could benefit from spending time with? What brings you joy? What’s another way you take charge of your mind in a stressful time? Please share with our Sixty and Me sisters!