In challenging times, we can find ourselves focussing exclusively on the problem.
This is, of course, a survival mechanism.
If you’re being chased by a predator, it’s useful to shut out everything else and focus on the threat.
Laser focusing in this way is great for solving an immediate and acute problem. It isn’t so great in a broader and ongoing difficulty because it reduces neural connections. It also affects our mood as we are living constantly in a state of acute threat.
Why does this matter?
Well, first there are the health benefits – physical and emotional – of having a more positive state of mind. Secondly, positivity and increased neural connections make us more able to see possibilities and solutions.
So, in times of difficulty, it’s important to do things that widen our focus and boost our mood. We can call this treasure hunting.
And here are some ways you can go hunting for treasure:
- Notice all the little things that you can enjoy or appreciate.
Waking up to a spring day. Noticing a flower in bloom. Different birdsong in the air. The comforting taste of a cup of tea or the aroma of coffee granules that you can breathe in and enjoy. Something somebody says or an animal does. Your favourite song. That comforting feeling as you get into bed and feel the duvet around you nice and snug.
- Find the silver lining.
Very often we can find an opportunity in a difficulty. Even if it’s something small, focussing on the opportunity can increase our sense of wellbeing. Treasures might be spending more time with family, having a lie-in or getting to bed earlier, having time to work on a project or a read a book, or finding a new and improved way of doing something. When you start looking for the silver lining you might be surprised what opportunities you find!
- Watch a comedy.
Simple. Laughter easily boosts our mood and makes us feel more able to cope. So limit your news intake and put on a comedy instead.
Director of Clinical and Creative Development
BA(Hons) HPD DipCHyp
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