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Thoughts for Now


At this moment in time with the effects of the Coronavirus there are things we can do to divert us from the possible distress we may experience as a consequence of our current situation. There are a lot of skills that we can learn and master, that may well assist us in improving our experiences. It would appear that ‘Mindfulness’ is in vogue at the moment, being aware of how we are and what we are doing is useful in focusing our thoughts almost on a minute by minute basis, this can help to limit the anxiety we experience

Odd as it may sound for usually, we breath without thinking about what we are doing, concentrating on our breathing is a useful practice to engage in. Oxygen is a necessary component for life, our bodies use it in every aspect of functioning. Therefore, paying attention to our breathing and our current activity, be it walking or watching birdlife in the garden, gardening or cooking can focus our thinking and lessen intrusive thoughts and anxiety. 

Perhaps this will give us an opportunity to re-engage with hobbies or explore new hobbies, read the book we have been interested in for some time or pursue a craft or art that appeals to us. Diverting our thoughts may be a useful exercise to engage in. Difficult I appreciate when keeping a roof over your head or food on the table is in the forefront of our minds. Once again easy to say however perhaps we may become aware that we are not alone, there are safety nets out there. We are not lesser if we ask for help, we’re human.

With the current health issues that are prevalent it may be helpful to limit negative thinking. As a species we are as successful and long living as we are and have been because of our intelligence and adaptability. Listed below are a variety of inspirational quotes that I and others have found both useful and helpful to bear in mind. They are all noted and credit given to those who wrote them. 


· The origin of this quote is unknown. It is thought to be ancient and was translated into modern English by St Marher in 1225. Others believe it to be a misquote from a book of 1902 by Alice Morse Earle. The quote in that book goes “The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man”. Today the quote is remembered as “The past is HISTORY, the future, a MYSTERY, today is a GIFT, that’s why we call it the PRESENT.

· “Neither a borrower nor a lender be for it doth dull the edge of husbandry. To thine own self be true and it follows as the night, the day though canst not be false to any man”. (William Shakespeare- a speech by Polonius from the play Hamlet).

· “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” (Maya Angelou).

· “Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. 

· ” To handle yourself use your head; to handle others use your heart” (Eleanor Roosevelt).

· “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination” (Jimmy Dean).

· “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

· “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can achieve excellence” (Vince Lombardi).

· “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” (Audrey Hepburn)

A collection compiled by Jan Barnes March 2020 (Copyright)

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Negative Mental Attitudes

 As odd or strange as it may sound, complaining is something we fall in to possibly out of irritation or frustration. Problem is the more we complain the more we are inclined to complain. The brain, being as it is, dislikes wasting energy creating the links to enable us to complain again and again. The brain disliking replicating the neural connections to do this. instead it creates more permanent neural connections to make it easier and less effort. Complaining becomes an almost default setting. In turn this can encourage the development of negative behaviour which becomes easier to adopt and effects not only brain chemistry, also the way people perceive us and react to us, so in a way it's an ever-decreasing cycle. The brains interpretation of complaining and negative behaviour is to view it as stress, 

Because the body is unable to sustain the adrenalin flight or fight response to stress for a prolonged period of time, the body switches to the longer-term stress response based on the stress hormone Cortisol. This in turn affects the bodies biological reaction. narrowing arteries which in turn raises blood pressure. This can also leave the brain more vulnerable to strokes and allows an increase in blood sugar levels in preparation for the survival response. As a consequence of the impact of Cortisol, high Cholesterol, Diabetes, Heart disease and Obesity can occur. It can influence the immune systems function. Easy as it sounds changing the way you think and consequently behave can have a positive effect on your health and well-being. 

It is not being suggested that you don't complain however what is probably better is to question whether a complaint is necessary or justified. To negate the effects of Cortisol is to think positively, concentrate on what you can be grateful for as by taking this approach, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, a 23% reduction in Cortisol can be achieved. Instead of focusing on the issue, one way to achieve a better outcome if the answer is 'yes' a complaint is required, is to engage in solution-oriented complaining. Decide what you would like to achieve and constructively include the desired outcome in your complaint. Because people are by nature subconsciously aware of your attitude starting with a positive comment is more likely to be a positive influence on what you hope to achieve. You can be negatively influenced regardless of whether it is you that is the 'complainer', as their attitude can impact on you therefore perhaps it would be better to avoid people who constantly complain. Distance yourself from them, do not join the 'pity party' that they use to improve their sense of self. Thereby avoiding the negative effects that their attitude can have on you.

As with complaining and adopting a negative attitude, we can use what could be termed the power of positive thought and actions to have a positive influence on our biochemistry. There are a variety of things we can do. The neuroscience researcher Alex Korb from UCLA has identified the changes that can occur in our biochemistry with each thought or behavior. By and making relatively small changes to our thinking or behavior we can have a more positive effect on our health and wellbeing. As the old song says, 'accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative'. A smile is a powerful thing to adopt for that reason. 

According to Korb fostering an attitude of 'gratitude' increases serotonin and dopamine in the Brain. By focusing you attitude on what you can appreciate in your life, this does require some effort, you can produce chemical changes in the brain. Likewise, so can labelling negative feelings or emotions either in yourself or in others. Study participants underwent MRI scans which identified that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain took over the Amygdala in which emotions are generated and calmed it down. In a similar way, making decisions and making decisions that are 'good enough' though perhaps not perfect has a similar effect on the Amygdala and the limbic system. All of which indicates use of our EQ.

IQ, a term used by William Stern in 1912, the full title is Intellectual Quotient, and is a way of identifying someone's Intelligence though a series of aptitude tests. The standard average score is approximately 100. Now the idea of EQ, Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence was first mentioned in a paper by Michael Beldoch in 1964 and was extended by Daniel Goleman in the 1990s. This idea has entered our thinking and identifies our ability to understand both our own and other’s emotions. How we can label, identify and navigate these emotions. It is thought that people who possess high levels of EQ or EI have greater mental health, researchers dispute how influential this is. Having high levels of both appears beneficial.

Material compiled by Jan Barnes, Qualified Psychotherapist from work done by Dr Travis Bradbury