Keeping Calm During Challenging Times:

10 Ways to Benefit from Downtime

The nature of our mind is to be busy. It tends to focus on worry, fear, guilt, the past and the future. Most of the time it focuses on thoughts that do not serve us. What we think about, we bring about, thus, our job is to train our very active mind to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Constant, prolonged stress-inducing thoughts reduce the effectiveness of our immune system. We are not helping ourselves by allowing our mind to run wild.

Observe your thoughts and when you notice you are thinking negatively, take a deep breath and release the negative thoughts, replacing them with three things that you are grateful for. Doing this will eventually change the programing of your brain. Practice becoming the observer of your thoughts and make time to enter the relaxation zone several times a day.

It is important to develop coping strategies for stress-causing thoughts, people and situations. Recognize that feeling stressed, depressed, guilty or angry is common during this deadly infectious disease outbreak, even when it does not directly affect you. Make a point to connect with others, especially with uplifting friends and family. Talk about your feelings about the outbreak but try not to ruminate on them. Enjoy conversations unrelated to the virus to remind yourself of the many important and positive things in your lives. Take time to connect with your peaceful and calm nature through meditation, prayer or by being of service to others.

The Chinese symbol for crisis encompasses both danger and opportunity. What is the opportunity for us while dealing with the Coronavirus?

1.     To practice relaxation or meditation techniques. Simply close your eyes and follow your breath with your mind as your breath comes in and goes out. Continue to let go as you practice.

2.     To do things you did not have time for. Like read a book or paint a room, listen to music or communicate with friends or family.

3.     To practice becoming the observer of your thoughts to access a healthy relaxed state of mind which puts you into your peaceful zone.

4.     To find a way to be empathetic, positive and helpful toward others.

5.     To get to know yourself in a deeper less anxious state. Being with yourself without distractions will bring up feelings below the surface. Accept them.

6.     To become comfortable being with yourself.

7.     To increase your desire and ability to feel peaceful and accepting.

8.     To increase your faith and trust that things will work out.

9.     To be kind to yourself and take breaks from the negative news.

10. To create new and productive routines and habits.

Dr. Jeff Gero trains individuals and organizations on how to master stress. His clients include General Motors, Sheraton Hotels, Hilton Foundation, Los Angeles Times, Sage Publications, Dole and Hawaiian Telephone. He developed the Stress Survival Kit containing tools for transforming stress into success. His private practice is in Agoura. Contact him at 818.879.1373 or learn more at  

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