How to disinfect our thoughts during COVID-19

Generative coaching for everyone by Manuela Draganova –

co-founder of Generative Mindset International Learning Center

and author of Ana’s Way novel.

Usually, people have skills to handle stress on a short-term basis, especially if they have a tangible end-point in mind (term, desired outcome or other criteria). But such a continuous suspense, like the one from the coronavirus pandemic, might be exhausting to human physical, mental and emotional health. It’s scientifically proven that stress has a negative effect on our immune system, and thus it reduces our body’s efficiency to fight viruses.

Forbes 2016, neuropsychologist Dr. Fabian van den Berg

explains what negativity does to our immune system:

“If you experience stress, you release cortisol, the main 

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stress hormone. Cortisol has a variety of effects, including on the immune system. 

Negativity and the stress that accompanies it have also been seen affecting certain stem cells that cause changes in the brain. It increases the risk for mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, will shorten your life, and will just make you weaker in general.”

American developmental biologist Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. and author of “The Biology of Belief” says:

“Stress is responsible for up to 90% of illness, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. When an individual is in stress, the release of stress hormones (e.g. cortisol) shuts down the immune system to conserve the body’s energy for running away from the perceived stressor.”

“When a person is in fear, their brain releases stress hormones (cortisol, norepinephrine and histamine) that shut down a cell’s growth process and inhibits the immune system, which happens to be completely unsustainable for life.”

Is it true that negative emotions and the fear of the coronavirus are more deadly than the virus itself? If so, what can we do to survive the Covid-19 in the best possible way? Is it enough to stay home and take the necessary precautions?

Well, we can also support our immune system by reducing stress levels through managing our thoughts, simply because body and mind are one system. We should learn to disinfect not only our hands, but also our minds. Though, how can we stay positive while the new coronavirus is taking over the Globe, resulting in thousands of casualties, and spreading anxiety, uncertainty and negativism among us?

I’d like to share with you my ideas on how to support your immune system by shifting your focus from the negative emotional states to the positive ones. It’s easy and simple, everybody can do it.

I call it “Vitamins for the Mind”:

1. Gratitude

2. Self-care

3. Hygiene of Communication

4. Resilience and Responsibility

5. Dreaming and Long-term Planning

6. Good News

Try using your mind in favor of your body. It won’t harm you, it could only help. In generative coaching we share the belief that difficult situations have the greater potential for a big transformation. Why not take advantage?

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1. Gratitude

Gratitude has a great emotional value and is a powerful “vitamin” for our immune system, because it shifts our focus from complaints, discomforts, and bad news to the meaningful things in life.

Let me offer you an easy practice for building a positive mindset:

When you wake up in the morning, please don’t rush to switch on the TV  or to check your phone for news about the coronavirus.

Instead remain in your bed for a few more minutes and just ask yourself “What are the three things I feel grateful for today?”. They could be simple things (like the wonderful sunny weather outside) or could be existential subjects (like beloved kids and parents).

You can thank your own immune system for helping you overcome and defeat hundreds of viruses in your life so far. Each of us has recovered many times, right? The idea is that the very first emotion you experience is gratitude – to God or to the Universe for everythingthing that enlightens and gives meaning to your life. Start disinfecting your thoughts early in the morning to support your immune system during the day in the fight against viruses.

2. Self-care

Why is it so important to take care of yourself?

Remember the oxygen masks instructions on an airplane: “In case of emergency please place the mask over your mouth and nose BEFORE assisting others.”

How can you help others if you are not okay yourself? You simply wouldn’t be able to, and in addition the possibility of you becoming a burden would be pretty high. That’s why, it’s very important to mindfully take care of your self. Please, look after your physical and mental health, and if you need any help – just ask for it, don’t hesitate.

Take advantage of the solitude of self-isolation to search inside your self or to rearrange your thoughts and priorities. You could pay attention to how do you call yourself when you’re having an internal dialogue? How do you address your inner “me”? What kind of words do you use? What’s the tone of your voice? Are you nice or critical? Or maybe you don’t have any personal address at all (many people don’t).

For example, I refer to myself with my childhood nickname “Memche”, and subsequently I treat my inner “me” with tenderness and affection like I would a kid. You could try the similar mind game or perhaps you could address your inner self as if it’s somebody you deeply love and respect.

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You can pick a real name or an alias such as “Mighty Warrior”, “Dear Princess”, etc. Play with your mind. You might like it. Remember, we all live in two dimensions – the one inside of us, and the other – encompassing our relationships with the rest of the world. And we shouldn’t neglect either of them.

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3. Hygiene of communication

Hygiene of communication with the rest of the world is the third vitamin for the mind. It sounds a bit complicated, but it isn’t at all. It’s actually very simple. Imagine you are facing the dilemma of communicating with somebody who complains all of the time or with another person who is positively encouraging you? Whom would you prefer?

Frankly speaking, me too. Thus, we should consciously try to maintain good relationships with our friends and family. Compromises are more than welcome in the pandemic times. 

Remember, this way you are protecting both yours and their immune systems from stress.

And also, smile more! According to researches of the University of Kansas smiling (even a fake grin) helps lower the blood pressure and reduce the heart rate in stressful situations. Try some daily humor therapy.

Search online for funny videos. Watch them alone or with others. Smile and laugh as much as possible. Keep on practicing having fun and hopefulness, it’s good for your health. Optimists are more resistant to stress.

4. Resilience and resposibility

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. – Viktor Frankl

Now is the perfect timing for you to consciously try building the skill of resilience in intense situations. If you succeed in this endeavor, you will formidably benefit from this skill in the future, long after your worries regarding Covid-19 have gone away.

The first step is to accept the fact that change as an inevitable part of life! Yes, it is. Wise people have said it: “The one certain thing in life is change.”

We know we should stay open for the new possibilities coming ahead, but at the same time the uncertainty of change creates anxiety and fear. How to react against the stress?

By taking control over everything that you can be in charge of. Complete all of the tasks that you’ve been lately procrastinating on and are possible to fulfill now. Take real actions on existing problems. Don’t wait for them to magically disappear.

Invest in your personal development. Read more. Take online classes. Practice reframing. (Instead of complaining about the rain outside, you can appreciate the opportunity to spend a few extra hours at home reading or listening to nice music.

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Simply accept that there is absolutely nothing you can do about the bad weather.)

However, being in control of the things that depend on you is not enough. Resilience is a combination of having control and taking responsibility for your actions and behavior. Yes, take responsibility. Blaming others for your failures or misfortunes is not a constructive approach to life. On the contrarry, you’ll become more and more miserable. Instead, keep your word. Say “I’m sorry, how can I fix it?”, if you make a mistake, don’t try to justify yourself  by pointing a finger at somebody else. Remember, people who aim to control their destiny feel more confident in general, and are more stable in stressful situations.

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5. Dreaming and long-term planning

Dreaming and long-term planning are like multivitamins to our mind and  powerful immunostimilators to our body.

Imagine that sometime soon Covid-19 will be withdrawn, the world will start ordinarily operating and people will get back to their businesses. We’ll pursue afresh our dreams, and we’ll continue working on the projects we care about. 

Imagine that we’ve forwarded the time, and now is April 2021.

Please ask yourself: “What do I want to have in my life that I don’t have now? What do I want to create?”

Set an intention. Formulate your statement positively – “what DO you want”, not negatively – ‘what do you NOT want”. Use five words or less. Imagine a concrete or symbolic picture of the vision of your future. Think of a gesture or a movement that expresses your intention. Plan strategic steps for achieving your goals. Be generative. Imagine how you would feel when you succeed.

Setting future goals is important, because it increases human motivation to survive, awakens the unconscious resourcefulness, and decreases stress levels. Stimulate your imagination to support your immune system!

6. Good news

Please, share every possible good news! The world needs optimism to overcome the epidemic. Do good deeds, help others, donate, contribute, be kind, be generous. There is a collateral beauty in this state of emergency. 

What is the good news on Covid-19?

✔ According to Euro News it usually takes 10 to 15 years to develop a vaccine. Highly unusually, human trials with an experimental Covid-19 vaccine have already begun. Seattle resident Jennifer Haller became the first person to receive one on March 16, 2020.

✔ There are over thirty companies and academic institutions worldwide trying different approaches to find the silver bullet that will beat Covid-19.

✔ The World Health Organization says there are over 40 potential vaccines.

✔ Japanise flu drug Favipiravir had produced encouraging outcomes in clinical trials in the effectiveness against Covid-19. 

✔ According to official statistics, China has defeated the coronavirus. After two months of total lockdown Wuhan has lifted restrictions as the city reemerges from the coronavirus crisis. Checkpoints are removed, public transportation is operating as usual, people are going back to work, and the economy is functioning again.

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