Transcript of Instagram Live recorded on 12th October 2020: Hi there. Thank you for joining me for week one of our viral positivity plan. I wanted to tell you a little bit about why we created the plan, because if you haven’t noticed, it’s pretty ugly out there.
The last eight months have been really hard for all of us and COVID has changed the way that our lives are lived in so many ways. It’s left many of us feeling scared and lonely and angry, and while I think that COVID has been hard for so many different types of people, in the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking particularly about those at university or those who have just gone off to university.
What I remember about uni is how much fun I had making new friends; partying, hanging out in other dorms, getting together with people and living a life that was different to my parents’ life. It’s your first opportunity to go out and live your life the way you want to. But going to uni now is so different. I’m thinking about you guys – you can’t go out with your friends. You may be locked down in your dorms and maybe you’ve even had to move home to save money. All of this uncertainty, all of these enforced limitations have meant that we have seen a huge increase in the number of people calling us for help with depression, anxiety and eating disorders. And while we do have to stay inside and stop the spread of this virus, it’s more important than ever right now to take care of ourselves and to bolster our mental health.
What we CAN spread is positivity, because just like COVID-19, just like any virus, emotions are also contagious. In psychology we call this phenomenon ‘Emotional Contagion’. So, the more we can bolster our mental health, the more that we can increase our wellbeing and the better off we all are.
So, in the spirit of trying to spread some positive contagion here, I’ve created this 10 week viral positivity plan. Every week, Monday night at 8:00PM, I’ll be sharing a different strategy and a bunch of tips on how to carry them out. Each idea is going to be based in science and psychological research. We know that these things help bolster mental health and bolster positivity. So, what we want to do is improve your mental health, increase that positive viral load.
Tonight, we talk about week one and what you do when those negative emotions get too overwhelming. I called it ‘set your feelings free’, because that’s exactly what we need to do. Emotions demand to be felt. You can try and push all those negative emotions away, but you know what, they’re just going to find their way up one way or another. The trick is to really allow yourself to feel your feelings, accept them, and find healthy ways of processing them and managing them.
I’ve got three tips for you to set your feelings free. The first way is to journal. Journal, journal, journal. All you got to do is Google journaling and mental health and you will see all of the positive health benefits associated with journaling, and there are so many reasons for this. The cool one that I like to tell everybody is that when you’re journaling (and I recommend a pen here, not your phone or your computer), you’re writing and that’s activating the left brain, the logical part of your brain. That frees up the right part of your brain which becomes creative and where the emotions are stored. It allows you to process things more easily. When your creative juices are flowing, you feel more intuitive, you feel more inspired, and you feel more confident. So journaling is a great way to set your feelings free, express your emotions, and process emotions in a really healthy way.
Tip number two is to keep track of the good things. Now with so much negativity out there, it’s really hard to focus on the good things because our brains are really badly designed. What I tell people is that our brains are like Velcro for the negative things and Teflon for the positive things. We’re always looking out for danger. It’s what’s kept us alive! But the thing is, when there’s so much negativity around, we don’t notice the good things, so we have to trick our brains. We have to train our brains to remind ourselves that there are good things out there. Your phone is fine for doing this, not like the journaling, where I want you to have a pen. Keep a list every day. It might be that somebody gives you a little compliment or a nice thing happens to you. No matter how small that thing is add it to your list, because you need to attune your brain to those things so they don’t fall off like Teflon. When you’re feeling down and you’re feeling like everything’s on top of you, you can go ahead and have a look at that list and it’ll lift you up a little bit. So, keep track of the good things. That is tip number two.
Now tip number three, and I think we’ve all heard about this one, is to start a small acts of kindness list. We hear this all the time but why? It’s because helping others is linked to increased feelings of happiness and wellbeing. It really is. Doing something nice for someone else makes you feel so good, no matter what it is. Fold up your friend’s laundry; Make someone a cup of tea; Call your mum (Definitely call your mum, she misses you!) or call a friend. Do something small and just see what that does to you. Selfless actions are good for your mental health.
So those are the three tips for today. Keep a journal, keep track of the good things, and start a small act of kindness list. Those things will allow you to set your feelings free and help maybe get you through this week. Every week I’ll be sharing a new tip with you. Next week we are going to be talking about relying on those around you and how that can help bolster your mental health. We will be posting about this on social media, sharing lots of tips and advice on Instagram. So please, I hope that you will join me again next week to say hello.
Dr Courtney. x