Killing The ANT and Embracing the PAT
Killing the ANT and Embracing the PAT
The impact of coronavirus continues to be felt all around the world. The disease causes respiratory illness with symptoms such as cough fever and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. It is spread primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spread when one person touches an object with the virus on it and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
This is a relatively new experience for most of us. In this blog, I will be encouraging people kill the ANT (Automatic Negative Thought) and focusing on the PAT (Positive Action & Thoughts) resting, and resetting for the opportunities that are present even through this devastating time.
What to do during this period:
1.) Be safe.
Follow the CDC guidelines including protecting yourself and others by preventing the spread of the virus. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into disposable tissue. Avoid close contact of no closer than 6 feet with everyone. Lastly, stay at home and work from home if you can.
2.) Get busy.
This is a good opportunity to get those things that you’ve not had the time or you have been avoiding doing. Get busy writing that book you’ve always wanted to write or read the novels you have always wanted to read. Get to know your neighbors. Learn a new language. Learn how to play a new instrument. Take online classes to get that GED or that degree that you have been procrastinating on.
3.) You can do this.
Remember this is not the first time you are in a crisis. Remember this is not the first time you struggle with anxiety and uncertainty about the future. Remember how you survived what happened to you in the past. You can do it again.
4.) Focus on the positives.
Make a list of the positive things happening in your life now and reflect on them every day. Focusing on more positive things in life will make you less likely to focus on the negative news around you.
Kill the ANT – What not to do:
1.) Worry excessively.
You should not worry excessively. This is not a time to catastrophize or “what if” worst-case scenarios. Studies have shown that excessive worry can have negative biological consequences on the immune system and overall general health. Most importantly, excessive worry does not achieve any positive or lasting results. You may feel temporarily better, but it is can be detrimental to your emotional and physical health.
Worrying excessively is not productive at this time or at any time.
2.) Avoid Guilt and Shame.
Do not feel guilt or be ashamed of your previous failures. The fact that you’re still breathing and living means that you’re still healthy and you can get back anything that you have lost. The most valuable possession you have is not your 401(k), your house, or all the money in the bank; it is not those flashy cars or boats or mansions. The most valuable thing you have is time. As long are you still breathing you should be grateful. If you are alive, you can get those things back. Shame is a negative emotion that does not help in any way shape or form.
3.) Do not numb.
During times of crisis and especially, now, when we are isolating or quarantined at home, there may be a temptation to go back to the temporary fix. This could include excessive indulges in alcohol, online shopping, or the use of illicit drugs. Another way people may numb is to indulge in excessive food intake. Sugary foods especially give us temporary gratification, but excessive weight gain can lead to the development of a blood pressure diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol and ultimately reduce the overall quality of life.
4.) Avoid negative talk.
Words are powerful. I strongly encourage you to avoid negative talk, the impact of which has been shown time and time again in studies. As your thoughts become words, what you say and think is what you become. If you focus on opportunity, you can change what you become. There are opportunities here to change people’s lives or to invent or create something new or do something you haven’t done before. Look around you, what can you do to help your neighbor? What can you create to make the world better? What can you do that can last longer after you leave this earth?
The pain we are feeling is real and I do not wish to minimize the real struggles we are all facing. However, beauty can come out of the ashes.
At Upstate Psychiatry we are committed to your physical emotional and spiritual well-being. If you struggle with depression, anxiety excessive worry, or excessive guilt, please reach out to us via our website or by phone.
We currently offer tele mental health to help individuals with significant emotional problems such as depression and anxiety.
Kill the ANT (Automatic Negative Thoughts) and embrace the PAT (Positive Action & Thoughts)
Adekola Alao MD