#WFHDP with PMA: Working from home during a pandemic, with a positive mental attitude

Spreading faster than COVID-19 is the spread of panic

We’re in a situation where there’s a novel virus spreading across the globe, and we’re seeing folks operating in a complete panic mode. Our anxiety and stress increase when our perception of risk increases, affecting our health and ability to cope. (Side note: the downside of this is that this can happen even if there is no actual increased risk involved.)

 

Please realize this: WFH is not just #WFH. You’re #WFHDP – working from home during a pandemic. It’s important for us to understand this distinction. We’re under stress, which can affect our health. There are tons of self-help type books out there to refer to for self care, instead lets focus on a survival technique called PMA, Positive Mental Attitude.

What is Positive Mental Attitude?

Besides helping folks create products customers love, I am also a SARTECH II, (Search and Rescue Technician Level II with the National Association of Search and Rescue), and have been a volunteer over 20 years aiding local agencies in the quest to find missing persons.

My SAR training has taught me the invaluable power of PMA, positive mental attitude. We learn in our wilderness survival training the “Rules of 3”:

You can be doomed in 3 Seconds if you let panic rule your actions

You can survive for 3 Minutes without air (oxygen) or in icy water

You can survive for 3 Hours without shelter in a harsh environment (unless in icy water)

You can survive for 3 Days without water (if sheltered from a harsh environment)

You can survive for 3 Weeks without food (if you have water and shelter)

To not let panic rule, you need to have a PMA.

Looking at a glass half full increases our chances of survival

PMA combats unconscious stress, frees your mind to think more clearly which helps you make better choices. A fight-or-flight panic response limits the amount of things you are able to observe. If you achieve an improvement in your attitude you can lower your stress, and increase the awareness of your surroundings.

But how can you think positively when you’re in an emergency situation?

Here are some survival handbooks tips which help you think positivity when in an emergency situation:

  • Stay busy. Keep your mind occupied with something productive. One great way to do this is to keep busy helping others. In our COVID-19 situation you might help someone who isn’t used to working online get online, for example. For example I’m busy checking on our elderly neighbors. Especially those next door who won’t ask for help. Instead I ask them to make me a grocery list and shop for them as they are understandably too afraid to venture outside. (Sidebar: I had to include the list as I adore her lovely cursive writing and the added line item of ‘cookies’. Look folks: no toilet paper on the list, and now I know that cookies work to increase her positive mental attitude.)
  • Recognize your negative emotions and name them. Here’s my example:  “I am irritated that someone stole a roll of toilet paper that I left on my porch for my friend.” After I named this emotion, I let it sit a bit, and positivity set in. I ended up thinking “Dang, if someone steals toilet paper they probably needed it more than I did at that moment in time” and that was ok with me, the irritation disappeared.
  • Repeat to yourself affirming, positive statements. I found myself in the sunlight this morning (our bodies need Vitamin D, I’m outside while respecting safe distances) where I noticed the blooming Azaleas – such a positive feeling to realize that the heat of summer is just around the corner.
  • Do not blame yourself. This means also you need to catch yourself saying any “shoulda woulda couldas.” Just don’t go there. Slow down. We’re here now with what we have. STOP:  Sit, Think, Observe and Plan. Try to make good choices going forward. As Stephen Covey put this: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” (Sidebar: Covey attributed this quote to V. Frankl, however this is incorrect. Covey’s writing appears to be rendered from a quote coming from Rollo May instead.)

Last but not least recognize your needs, your limits, and the needs and limits of others. This means if you have a team, cut them lots of slack, check in on them, and mean it when you do.

How exactly does PMA bring you positive results?

The study of positive psychology sprang up a relatively short time ago. I learned of this field from Dr. Martin Seligman who in 1998 introduced positive psychology as a field of psychology where the focus was placed on “good life”, or the positive aspects of the human experience that make life worth living. As an art, positive psychology includes both individual and societal well-being.

 

Research revealed a link between positive thinking and emotions and successful survival. That’s because positive emotions broaden thinking capacities in the brain, allowing for more creativity and more innovation, creating an upward spiral.

PMA reverses the toll of stress on our bodies. Think about your body when you watch something that makes you smile or laugh.You might be spread out on a chair with your body feeling loose and free, perhaps your head held back while laughing. Now contrast this to your body position when you’re watching a suspense-thriller, sitting forward on your chair biting your nails. This relaxed state achieved with PMA helps conserve energy, doesn’t lock our brain with panic, helps us make better decisions, and quite frankly helps us survive.

If you find that working from home during a pandemic is not the same as working from home, please join us for some additional self-care tips.

Sources

Coget, Aymee “Happiness for Humankind Playbook: Sustainable Happiness in 5 Steps” 2019. https://www.amazon.com/HAPPINESS-HUMANKIND-PLAYBOOK-Sustainable-Happiness/dp/0578222019

Cooper, Donald. “Fundamentals of Search and Rescue.” 2018. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. (June 22, 2018)   https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=qGRgDwAAQBAJ

Covey, Stephen, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” 2004 Fireside Press https://books.google.com/books?id=Nf70wAEACAAJ

Fredrickson, Barbara L. “The Value of Positive Emotions.” 2003. American Scientist. (April 10, 2008) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237327373_The_value_of_positive_emotions_-_The_emerging_science_of_positive_psychology_in_coming_to_understand_why_it%27s_good_to_feel_good

Fredrickson, Barbara L. “Positive Emotions Broaden and Build.”  Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 47:1-53 https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/39322862/Fredrickson_AESP_2013.pdf

Fears, J Wayne, “Pocket Guide to Outdoor Survival” 2011 Simon and Schuster https://books.google.com/books?id=tF2CDwAAQBA

Hill, Kenneth. “The Psychology of Lost.” Lost Person Behavior. 1998. St. Mary’s University. (April 9, 2008) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305044517_The_Psychology_of_Lost

Iuliano AD1, Reed C, Guh A, Desai M, Dee DL, Kutty P, Gould LH, Sotir M, Grant G, Lynch M, Mitchell T, Getchell J, Shu B, Villanueva J, Lindstrom S, Massoudi MS, Siebold J, Silverman PR, Armstrong G, Swerdlow DL. “Notes from the field: outbreak of 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus at a large public university in Delaware” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. (April-May 2009) Aoi0@cdc.gov https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19911964

Lundin, Cody. “98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive.” 2003. Gibbs Smith. (April 10, 2008) http://books.google.com/books?id=nrQxBfJLvtgC&dq=98.6+degrees

Mayo Clinic. “Stress: Unhealthy response to the pressures of life.” Sept. 12, 2006. (April 10, 2008) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/SR00001

McNab, Chris. “The SAS Mental Endurance Handbook.” Globe Pequot. 2002. (April 9, 2008) https://books.google.com/books?id=wjcwvgAACAAJ&dq

Seligman, M. “Learned Optimism”,  2011, Penguin Random House https://books.google.com/books?id=qreACUdDAc0C

Snyder, C.R. and Lopez, Shane J. “Handbook of Positive Psychology.” 2002. Oxford University Press US. (April 10, 2008) http://books.google.com/books?id=2Cr5rP8jOnsC

Stilwell, Alexander. “The Encyclopedia of Survival Techniques.” 2000. The Lyons Press. https://books.google.com/books?id=zXnTCwAAQBAJ

Course (free!): The Science of Well-Being https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being