I have always been a very positive person but I am finding it near-impossible to be positive in the face of the current situation with the Coronavirus, and it is freaking me out. It is as if I have become another person and all this fear and uncertainty has turned me from being a Tigger-style character into being a pure Eeyore with a permanent dark cloud scribbled above my head. I work in data science and, while a load of my colleagues and friends have been furloughed or let go, I have been kept on and am busier than ever.
I am so very lucky to be still working and able to continue working from home. Plus, I have no underlying health conditions and am still healthy (although I think I may have had the virus in March) so you would think I would be grateful for that and able to stay positive. But instead I am obsessed with all the negative facts and figures flying about, and I keep wanting to just run away. I have this urge to escape all the time even though I cannot go anywhere and don’t even know where it is I want to go! Chris, Acton
I think the first thing to say here is that you are asking the impossible of yourself, so it’s no wonder you want to scarper! Not even Tigger himself would be bouncing around full of the joys of spring in the spring of 2020. The news is full of doom and gloom, and while you have, for the moment, thankfully, avoided serious ill health, death, unemployment, and other catastrophes they are still all out there being paraded on the news at every moment. So it is hard to stay positive. And it is wholly understandable that you struggle to see the bright side.
I think the real problem here is your expectation of yourself. You self-define as a positive person and this feeling that you can only see the negative right now is making you feel that you are not the same person. It makes me think of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde because it sounds as if you think you have switched from being a good, happy, inspiring person to being a bad, negative one. But your circumstances have been radically changed so it is understandable that you have been affected by that, and what you need to know is: these feelings are okay!
Having negative, fearful feelings doesn’t mean that you have been permanently changed. We all access different parts of ourselves at different times, and it is just that you are not able to access that positive, cheerleader part of you right now. Furthermore, it sounds as if this Tiggerish, happy-go-lucky positive persona was developed as a coping strategy; as a way of defending yourself from painful, difficult feelings. And in times of great stress, such as this global pandemic, your usual coping strategies may not work any more.
But again this is not necessarily permanent. So how do you find new coping strategies and access some hopeful, positive feelings right now? The real key here is to learn to live in the moment and try not to future-predict all the time. You can also promote positive feelings by doing as many of the following as often as you can:
- connect with others
- listen to uplifting music
- dance and or exercise
- get lost in a good book, great TV show or favourite movie
- get outdoors and be in nature
- consider limiting your access to social media and news bulletins
- show concern and interest in the wellbeing of others
- show compassion to yourself
And, above all, remind yourself as Abraham Lincoln said, “this too shall pass”.