Oh, my goodness, 2020 has tested us like no other year. Last year has not just challenged us as individuals, but the entire planet has been turned inside out. The human species has faced obstacles unexperienced before. The year’s crises have affected everyone in the world, not just a few select counties and communities.
Everyone has had to deal with not just the pandemic, but political turmoil and unrest, an economic crash, unemployment, racism, working from home, schooling from home, riots, illness and death, lockdowns, social distancing and touch deprivation (no handshakes or hugs), stimulus subsidies, travel restrictions, and uncertainty about the future. For many, it was the most stressful year of their lives as we try to protect our families and to keep life as normal as possible.
When times are the toughest, that is when we need to be resilient and flexible.
Research states that, in response to traumatic stress, about one-third of people develop PTSD. Their minds fill with unwanted negative thoughts, creating fearful expectations as their brains slowly change. The brain’s circuits that carry stress signals get bigger and move faster. High cortisol (fight-or-flight hormone) degrades both their health and cognitive function. In extreme cases, calcium forms deposits on the brain’s memory and learning center, and it wastes away.
Something that is under-appreciated is that about two-thirds of people don’t develop PTSD. Many of us experience what might be called (PTG) post-traumatic growth. The adversity creates a pressure that actually drives us to create better, richer, and fuller lives for ourselves. The stress fires up the brain’s holistic enlightenment network, which expands and gets bigger and faster. Suddenly we are thinking and intuitively reacting from our center, our heart, that may not have even acknowledged before.
Finding and zeroing in on that heart-center can make a huge, positive difference. In the midst of fear and uncertainty, that centered base can fill life with compassion and gratitude. Research suggests that intentionally transposing fear into positivity will:
- Lower heart rate and blood pressure
- Boost immunity antibodies
- Reduce stress neurochemical like cortisol (fight-or-flight)
- Activate anti-inflammation and anti-cancer genes
- Increase happiness
- Decrease anxiety and depression
- Reduce pain and auto-immune symptoms
This is what resilience – both mental and physical- looks like. It is the opposite of stress.
After the first few days of the Pandemic, I intentionally turned off all news on the television and turned on music. I refused to let what was happening in the world, upset “my world”. If I had to go out to the store, I used caution, but I did so to apply a level of protection for others, not out of fear for myself.
Once I got home and into my safe environment where I was in control, the music went on, I worked on the computer, I traded the market, and hung out in the chatrooms, and we all remained positive and upbeat.
It has become a joke, and traders wait for how I am going to welcome each day. It is Wonderful Wednesday or Thriving Thursday. We are in charge of the reality we create for ourselves, what we buy into and allow to color our lives. Early on I realized that being negative in any way wasn’t going to positively help my family, my neighbors or community. Truly, it is the complete opposite. Being positive and happy lifts the people I care about, and that positivity expands well beyond them.
This new year take deliberate action to cultivate resilience in your life. Settle back and decide what is truly important. Listen to music, laugh, love, enjoy what is happening right this second because anything beyond this moment is in the future and isn’t guaranteed. Don’t miss out on what is happening now.
What I want for you as you move into 2021 is a life full of peace, happiness, creativity and awe. I celebrate these qualities in my own personal space here in my small cabin in Western North Carolina, and I get excited about sharing these concepts with as many people as possible in the chatrooms and here online.
My husband Jack used to tease that I live in my own world where I continually work on building a blissful brain. Truthfully, he was right!
As you shine your light into the areas of your life, everything around you is illuminated. As a community, let’s shine our collective lights and light up the world. I look forward to a wonderful year ahead which I hope to share with you in every joy-filled possible way!
Have a wonderful, thriving 2021!