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How to disinfect our thoughts

Generative coaching for everyone by Manuela Draganova –
co-founder of Generative Mindset International Learning Center
and author of the novel Ana’s Way.

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 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 ability 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 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 as cortisol shuts down the immune system to conserve the body’s energy for running away from the perceived stressor.”

Is it true that negative emotions and the fear of the coronavirus are more lethal than the virus itself? If so, what can we do to survive 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, spreading anxiety, uncertainty, and negativity 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?

1. GRATITUDE

Gratitude has great emotional value and is a powerful “vitamin” for our immune system, since it shifts our focus from complaints, discomforts, and bad news to the meaningful things in life. Let me offer an easy practice for building a positive mindset:

When you wake up in the morning, avoid rushing 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 or parents).
You can thank your 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 everything 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 high. That’s why it’s very important to mindfully take care of yourself. 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 yourself or to rearrange your thoughts and priorities. You could pay attention to what 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 child.
You could try a similar mind game, or perhaps you could address your inner self as if it’s somebody you deeply love and respect. 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 outer one – encompassing our relationships with the rest of the world, and we mustn’t neglect either of them.

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 is actually very simple. Imagine you are facing the dilemma of communicating with somebody who complains all the time or with another person who is positively encouraging you? Whom would you prefer?
Obviously, the latter, and so would I. 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.

Additionally, smile more! According to researchers at 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 and watch them alone or with others. Smile and laugh as much as possible. Keep practicing having fun and being hopeful, it’s good for your health. Optimists are more resistant to stress.

4. RESILIENCE AND RESPONSIBILITY

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 greatly benefit from this skill in the future, long after your worries regarding Covid-19 have become a thing of the past.

The first step is to accept the fact that change is an inevitable part of life! Yes, it is. Wise people have said: “The one certain thing in life is change.”
We know we should stay open to the new possibilities coming ahead, but at the same time the uncertainty of change creates anxiety and fear. How must one react to this inevitable stress?
By taking control over everything that you can be in charge of. Complete all of the tasks that you’ve been procrastinating and can be fulfilled now. Take real actions on existing problems instead of waiting 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. 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 maintaining control and taking responsibility for your actions and behavior. Blaming others for your failures or misfortunes is not a constructive approach to life. 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 placing the blame on somebody else. Remember, people who aim to control their destiny feel more confident in general and are more stable in stressful situations.

5. DREAMING AND LONG-TERM PLANNING

Dreaming and long-term planning are like multivitamins to our mind and powerful immunostimulators to our body.
Imagine that sometime soon Covid-19 will begin to wane, and the world will start operating as it had before thee pandemic, and people will get back to their business. We’ll pursue our dreams, and we’ll continue working on the projects we care about.

Imagine that we’ve forwarded the time, and now is an year from now.
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 defined 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, and awakens the unconscious resourcefulness while decreasing 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 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.

• Japanese flu drug, Favipiravir, has produced encouraging outcomes in clinical trials in its 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.

• A 104-year-old American veteran and a 104-year-old Italian woman have recovered from the coronavirus. If they can do it, so can others.

• The severe worldwide precautions shall have results! Sooner or later this crisis will be over, and then we will have a lot of work to do. If you look back in time to consider how much technology has developed during the last decades, you’ll get an idea of how much humankind must spiritually evolve to sustain the balance in nature.