By Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics, American Public University
As a professor in the online education environment, I’ve been working from home for years. So I was amazed to hear some of my friends express how switching to working from home was a negative experience for them.
Start a management degree at American Public University.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the cause of negative home environments. Working in a confined space, no opportunity to engage live with friends or colleagues, a dismal unemployment picture, and combining work and parenting in the online environment can be taxing on anyone. That’s why good mental health is so important.
How Do You Switch from a Negative to a Positive Mindset?
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” It’s a saying I learned as a child, but which I have constantly questioned during my adulthood. Can words hurt as much as a crushing blow to the body? Can someone really ignore negativity and thrive in its absence?
It’s amazing how I can remember with absolute clarity conversations in which someone said or did something negative to me. It’s almost as if it left a permanent imprint in my brain.
As Maya Angelou wisely said, “People will forget what you said, and they may forget what you did, but they will never forget how they made you feel. ”
Writing in The ChronicleHerald, Joe Sherren, an international business transformation specialist, insists that “we are not born with a naturally negative attitude. We began life with four basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. These hard-wired emotions are neither positive nor negative. It is how we use these emotions that make them positive or negative.”
So positivity breeds more positivity and negativity breeds more negativity. The goal is to focus on the good, not the bad. Both negative or positive emotions will influence our thinking process, our day-to-day behavior and our future successes, Sherren says.
How Do You Reframe Negativity into Positivity?
Reframing means reshaping and reimagining learned behaviors. This isn’t easy because much of the learned behavior we exhibit on a daily basis can be traced back to our infancy.
If you grew up in a positive environment, you are more likely to exhibit positive behaviors and vice versa. So your attitude and ability to connect with others have taken years to develop.
Sherren offers six helpful tips to maintain a positive mental attitude during this pandemic:
- Truly believe that maintaining a positive outlook is a choice you can make.
- As soon as you wake up, think of three things for which you are grateful. The emotional brain is more vulnerable to outside influences in the first hour after waking than at any other time of the day.
- Make your bed (yes, I am serious). Completing that one task will improve your mental attitude and set the tone for your day. Even if you have a bad day, you will appreciate it when you get home.
- Assume positive intent. For instance, if someone is not wearing a face mask, consider they may have a medical reason or sincerely suffer from claustrophobia.
- Hang out with positive people. Studies have shown that just being around negative people will cause the neurons in your brain to fire in regions that will emotionally bring you down.
- Get your required amount of sleep. People who are sleep-deprived tend to react to outside stimuli in a more negative way.
While these are great reminders, it’s also important to highlight simple positive activities you can do during the COVID-19 pandemic to stay positive. Here are four helpful suggestions:
- Limit news and social media. If the TV is on all day or you are constantly reading tweets, you can get caught up in others’ perception of reality.
- Maintain a routine and schedule. Knowing that breakfast with loved ones is at 8 A.M. can improve your mood and give you something to look forward to.
- Compliment the positive. Positivity breeds positivity, so reinforce what you want to see in the world.
- Keep a journal. It can be as simple as writing down what you enjoyed yesterday and things you are looking forward to today. This can shape your thoughts positively for the day.
Make Up Your Mind to Be Positive
As an observation often credited to Abraham Lincoln put it: “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
I agree. There are some people who are just naturally positive, even when confronted with negativity. It’s infectious, and I’ve often tried to unlock their secret but to no avail. Choosing to be happy is the first step to the power of positivity.
So no matter the circumstance, choose to be positive and look for the good in the situation. It will have infectious results.
About the Author
Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, PMP, is a professor at American Public University and has over 25 years of experience managing projects that specialize in supply chain management. She holds a B.S. in meteorology and an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.