The important role stress plays in causing all forms of diseases, including cancer and, yes, even COVID-19, cannot be overemphasized. We’re all stress-prone. That’s our default setting. So, we must make a conscious effort to reset our default mindset to a positive, healthy one.
Many authors have compared our mindset to a garden, and our conscious mind is the gardener. If the gardener does not tend to his garden daily and religiously, then weeds and wild grass are likely to grow, rather than beautiful flower- and fruit-bearing plants.
The weeds and wild grass are like the negative thoughts and emotions that stress spontaneously feeds our minds, from the moment we wake up till we retire at night.
Unmanaged stress will try to convince us the problems and challenges we encounter are simply insurmountable, that we’re not good enough to solve these problems. COVID-19 is going to get us whether we like it or not, and disrupt our lives irreparably. Times are really hard and there’s no way we could get ourselves out of this mess! Sadly, we believe these negative thoughts and ideas fed by stress.
The uncontrolled and untrained mind can offer all sorts of excuses as to why things will go wrong, instead of going for the better. For so long as we allow our minds to wander wildly and explore all negative possibilities, it will keep on doing that.
We just need to take control, tend to our garden dutifully to get rid of the weeds, and grow the kind of flower- and fruit-bearing plants we want.
Knowing and feeling that we’re in control with God’s grace is probably the strongest stress buster we can ever have.
Tending to our “garden” to permanently discard the negative default mindset is a purposeful, lifelong undertaking. You may do it religiously for months or years, but the moment you let your guard down, the weeds and wild grass of negative thoughts and emotions start to creep back in and, frequently, with a vengeance. So, we have to be vigilant.
On occasions when I’m asked to give motivational talks on how to maintain a positive mindset and manage stress, I give the ADB-VEST formula.A is for aim or purpose. We must know what we really aim for in life, and the things that matter most. I suggest you rewrite these daily and read them every chance you have. This will constantly remind you which direction you want to go. Uncertainty in what direction to pursue is a great stressor. Hence, leaders with a good sense of direction have a reassuring and calming effect on the people they lead.
D is for desire. It must not be a simple, so-so wanting to achieve something, but a strong burning desire that no matter what happens, you’ll do everything to achieve your aim, and the goals it carries. It has to be that Manny Pacquiao-type of burning desire to achieve whatever he wanted to achieve in boxing, knowing that God grants all the desires of our heart if we also delight in Him.
B is for believe. Again, trusting that God is always there to lift us up no matter how many times we fall, until we’re able to surmount our challenges and achieve our goals, is a never-fail stress buster. The No. 1 symptom of lack of trust in God is when we worry too much. We just have to believe that no matter what the problems are, God is much bigger than any of them, and all we need to do after we’ve done our part is to let go and let God. The moment we cling too hard to the problematic situation, and try to solve it wholly with our own talent and capacity, the more complicated it gets. All we need to do is step aside, and believe that God will handle it for us.
V is for visualize. It always creates some magic when we regularly play a mental movie, especially before we dose off to sleep and upon waking up in the morning, of what we want to achieve, have, feel, share and do in our lives. I have been an avid daydreamer since my childhood days. And looking back, almost everything I’ve constantly dreamed about has become a reality, including things many people said were impossible for me to achieve.
E is for strong positive emotions that should accompany our desires and beliefs. Love, compassion, empathy, generosity, goodwill are potent emotions to fuel your desires and beliefs. If you desire something out of envy, jealousy, selfishness, greed or revenge, it will likely boomerang, like the classical case of sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind.
S is for stewardship and sharing. The more you share, the more you get. We can never outgive God. And He always loves the cheerful giver. Blessed are those who generously share whatever blessings they have—talent, time, finances and other resources—because they may not ask for it, but God returns the shared blessing a hundredfold.
And finally, T is for thanking God always, in good as well as in bad times. A grateful heart opens the floodgates of blessings from God’s bounty. It’s a great practice to praise and thank God first thing in the morning, and every chance we have during the day. Some even have a gratitude journal where they write down all the things they want to thank God for. As I write this column, I got the laboratory confirmation that I’m positive for COVID-19, but I’m so grateful God has blessed me with an almost miraculous healing, from experiencing moderately severe symptoms three days ago to an almost near-100-percent recovery in 48 hours.
Sincere gratitude is really a potent magnet for good things to happen in our lives, giving stress no place to dwell in. INQ