In times of hardship and difficulty, we may become discouraged to seeing the bright side—or even acknowledging that it even exists. We have all heard it before: “April showers bring May flowers”. But how many of us have actually understood it? Yes, April is typically the rainy month that helps bring the May flowers into bloom—but what it’s really trying to tell us is that dark days pave the way for better ones. We’ve always been told to stay positive and not let things weigh us down, but it’s easier said than done.
According to Professor Nass from Stanford University, individuals have a general tendency to focus on the negative and are also more likely to remember adverse experiences, rather than positive ones. Interestingly enough, this trend may have a biological answer. Professor Nass comments that the brain deals with positive and negative information in different hemispheres; negative emotions and stimulus requires more thinking, so the brain processes them more thoroughly than positive ones. Therefore, we tend to ruminate on experiences that affect us in undesirable ways.
Today, we are in the midst of a pandemic; people are receiving copious amounts of alarming information, panicking, and are losing hope. April’s showers are bringing us a lot of negative emotions, with high levels of fear and anxiety. These thoughts and feelings are perfectly normal to have, especially when it feels like we are in immediate danger.
In moments like these, we can try to train our minds to view the positive moments, rather than dwell on the negatives. For example, if you are social distancing, take this time to pick up a hobby you forgot you had, or, take the time to develop a new one. If maybe working from home allows you to have more time for yourself and your family, take the time to do what you enjoy doing and catch up on rest. While we do not know when things will get better, it may help to plan special events and holidays for when social distancing and isolation is over.
As we try and live though these times of isolation and anxiety, remember that it’s always darkest before the dawn.
By: Hilary Paredes, MHC Intern