Feeling discombobulated? Yep, that’s most of us right now.
Well, Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said it first: ‘The only thing that is constant is change.’ If he was watching us now, he’d be shouting: ’See! This is what I meant!’ Although he would probably say something far more confusing (he was well known for speaking in riddles), urging people to put the effort into understanding.
Our brains are aching right now, processing that the only certainty is uncertainty. Daily life is not what it was a short time ago. Many of us don’t feel psychologically safe, now that daily routines have shifted dramatically overnight. Our world doesn’t look or sound the same. As my youngest daughter commented: ‘It sounds empty.’
You may have just found out whether or not you have a job; whether or not your children go to school; whether or not you can leave the house – things you wouldn’t have even questioned only weeks ago.
And all of this is outside of your control.
Take back control and refocus
So, what are we going to do? What we’re all good at, of course - worry. We are going to worry like we’ve never worried before. If our current levels of worry could be harnessed as an energy, we could power whole continents with it.
Speaking to my Mum in Australia earlier today, she heard a bird singing and asked me if I was outside. I was. She screamed: ‘Where?!’ ‘Erm, in the garden.’ Of course, she had pictured me walking the streets, hugging every passerby with wild abandon.
So, what can we do to help ourselves refocus when there’s so much worrying stuff to focus on?
How about we stop? Or rather, STOPP. We love acronyms at Laughology and this awareness tool we’ve learned from psychology is really handy, as well as easy to remember and practice.
How to STOPP and refocus
TAKE A BREATH
Breathing a little deeper and slower will help reset the brain.
What am I thinking? What am I reacting to? What am I feeling in my body?
Put in some perspective. See the bigger picture. Is this fact or opinion? How would someone else see this?
PRACTISE WHAT WORKS
What’s the best thing to do for me, for others, for this situation?
When you do stop and identify what we call a ‘wonky thought’, name that thought - say it out loud; share it with a trusted colleague / friend. Why not write it down, taking it out of your head? It’ll help you to rationalise and provide perspective, rather than stewing on it and letting it fester.
When you observe your thoughts, notice what your body is doing. If you’re running around like a headless chicken, slow down and choose stillness. If you’ve been sitting still, mulling over your wonky thoughts for a while, move around. Shift your physical state to enable you to shift your mental focus.
Make a playlist that makes you feel good. All week I’ve been hearing the opening lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody in my head: ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’ Ear wormed? You’re welcome. Today’s anthem has been Depeche Mode’s, ‘Enjoy the Silence’. With the recent sunshine and more people at home, I’ve quickly learned that my neighbours have a dodgy taste in music, but who am I to judge? I have been known to binge on Little Mix for a quick fix - pot noodle for the ears.
We are Laughology after all. We’re not making light of the gravity of the global situation, but laughter, humour and happiness is our business. We know that humans cope better with humour and that you can be proactive about this.
Consider your audio-visual choices. Now is not the time to be watching apocalyptic films. Now is the time to watch your favourite comedies and to self-medicate with silliness. Humour, with positive intent, really is the best medicine. It’s another great way of resetting the brain when your primitive instincts to fight or flee are getting in the way. Laughter and humour allow perspective and have a positive impact on our bodies and minds.
Never have journalist and author, Norman Cousins,* words been more pertinent: ‘Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors’.
*Norman Cousins wrote the book: Anatomy of an Illness: as Perceived by the Patient which ‘started the revolution in patients working with their doctors and using humour to boost their bodies' capacity for healing’, and is referenced in our very own Stephanie Davies’ publication: Laughology – The Science of Laughter
Next week module 2 is all about language and imagination, the middle elements of FLIP-it thinking. In this module will explore how our language and imagination can become a bit wonky and unhelpful, especially at times of challenge and introduce more helpful ways to think and communicate.
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