When your joy gets turned upside down.

If you’re like me, COVID-19 is affecting your life and causing concern. Significant changes are happening in our lives and in our world, and the stress isn’t helping our immune systems. Research has found that happiness can help us fight off cold and flu germs. Carl Charnetski, MD, professor of psychology at Wilkes University, found that positive thinking, playing with a pet, and other enjoyable behaviors boost our immune systems—making it harder for viruses to stick. But how to stay positive in such a negative environment? Here are a few ideas to help us fight off Coronavirus with joy in our hearts:

1) Be kind. The Mayo Clinic reports that “Being kind boosts serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being, and cause the pleasure/reward centers in your brain to light up. Endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain killer, also can be released.” The good news is, we don’t have to touch someone to be kind. You can text an encouraging note to a friend, FaceTime an elderly person who may be stuck at home and scared or do what one of my favorite people just did, make others laugh in pick up line at the local pharmacy. Use the personal strengths you have to lift others up, and lift yourself up in the process. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

2) Meditate. Research shows that meditation improves immune function. We can all start by taking a break and taking some breaths. Doing a breathing exercise that focuses on the breath, expands your belly and triggers the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system and allows you to come out of fight or flight and reduces stress. Meditation, particularly mindful meditation, like focusing on your breath in the moment is effective in lowering stress which increases our body’s ability to fight disease. Here is an article with a simple breathing exercise that can make a big difference. https://www.verywellmind.com/abdominal-breathing-2584115 I like to do a visualization exercise after breathing, where I create a scenario that separates me from my worries so that I can look at the worries and concerns I have at a distance and separated from myself. For example, I imagine myself in the ocean, off shore, treading water desperately in cold waves fighting to breathe. This is how I feel surrounded by my worries and fears. Suddenly, I realize I am actually in a shallow area, and I stand up, and walk out of the ocean onto calm sunny, shore and sit peacefully, looking back at the raging ocean of fears, worries and concerns I have left in the ocean. I watch as the water, rips and churn and foam flies. I see all of my concerns as the water, and I sit away from them, just watching. I continue breathing. In time the sea calms and the waves resume to a rolling, gentle, calm surf, as the worries and concerns go out with the tide. I learn from this that the 1) anxiety is temporary 2) worries and concerns come and go like the tide, and 3) I can withstand the raging sea of emotions as it comes… and goes. Ask the Lord for help if you’re struggling. Read Mark 4:35-41 and remember who is in charge of not only the raging fears, but also the physical circumstances we believe in the moment are insurmountable.”With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

3) Sing! A study by Tenovus Cancer Care and the Royal College of Music found that “Singing in a choir for just one hour boosts levels of immune proteins in people affected by cancer, reduces stress and improves mood, which in turn could have a positive impact on overall health.” Rita Wilson has a playlist out now that she has called “Quarantunes.” What a great idea!! Make a playlist you can enjoy, play and sing your heart out. Have the family join in. You can do this while doing other things like puzzles, cleaning, or simply stop to sing praises to the Lord. I have a playlist called “Pumped for Jesus” and I play it when I am driving around town and I sing in my car. I have songs like “Alive and Breathing” by Matt Mahar (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYUJjsgd96k) and “Smile” by Sidewalk Prophets (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjurY5mR2hs.) I have another Playlist called “No Fear” and this playlist includes songs like No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8TkUMJtK5k) and I Will Fear No More, The Afters (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBvaMT0itdA). In the book “The Insanity of God” Nik Ripkin shares how the power of God is experienced in miraculous and mighty ways when persecuted Christians sing and worship while imprisoned, isolated and worse. So sing your heart out and see how the Lord can change things when we turn our worry into worship and He turns our sadness to joy, John 16:22, Isaiah 61:3. Let loose, and sing, sing, SING! “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.” Psalm 96:1

Share with us in the comments how you are fighting COVID-19 with postitivity!

What’s on your playlist?

Photo Credit: Photo by Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash

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Julia Fikse is a Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach ©2020.  Julia is not a therapist or a doctor and this blog cannot and should not in any way replace doctors advice.