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Optimism boosts the Immune System

Anjali Seth School Counsellor Sunbeam School, Varuna
Anjali Seth
School Counsellor
Sunbeam School, Varuna

Maslow’s need hierarchy is a theory of psychology explaining “Human Motivation” based on the pursuit of different levels of needs. This theory states that needs are organized in a hierarchy of prepotency in which more basic need must be more or less met (rather than all or none) prior to higher needs. This order of needs is ‘flexibility-based’ on external circumstances or individual differences. These five needs are divided into two categories-

1) Higher Order Needs

2) Lower Order Needs

Optimism boosts the Immune System
Optimism boosts the Immune System

COVID-19 is directly affecting our Lower Order Needs (safety needs: personal security, resources, health and employment) among rich people where as in poor people it is affecting First Order Need (Physical needs: food, water and shelter).

Unfulfilled safety needs lead to insecurity and sense of insecurity affects our immune system. More cases of Mental Health related issues are recorded in last one year, indicating that higher insecurity leads to poor mental health.

In conclusion, COVID-19 is affecting our basic important Lower Order Needs, which needs to be fulfilled by replacing insecurity to security by boosting optimism. Insecurity is about screening your fears becoming true whereas optimism is about being hopeful that something good will happen. As Kathleen A. Brehony said, “Optimism is joyful searching; pessimism is a prison of fear and a clutching at illusionary safety”.  Boosting optimism can help our students in enhancing better functioning of immune system as optimism helps our body in releasing positive hormones. As Lucy MacDonald rightly said, “It’s not that optimism solves all of life’s problems; it is just that it can sometimes make the difference between coping and collapsing”.

For enhancing optimism amongst students, we can follow few simple steps-

1) Asking Optimism-Based questions in class:

  1. a) asking students about their plans after COVID-19 is over
  2. b) topics to speak could be based on optimism or Essay writing in literature subjects
  3. c) What values they learned and will apply in their future after this pandemic is over.

Such questions will help students in looking at the situation in a different way or you may say they will think beyond the problem (COVID-19) and develop the perspective that this time too will pass.

2) Creating Meaning of their suffering

  1. a) If they are suffering as we all humans have some sort of challenges without asking the problems probing them to describe what they are learning from their challenges and how they think will help them in future. As Victor E. Frankl said once, “If you know the meaning of your suffering, your pain of suffering will reduce. It will develop perseverance in meeting challenges.”
  2. b) In junior school- as parents are the working support system helping them in deriving meaning from the challenge they are facing as a parent. Discussing about how their endless efforts are going to lead in helping their kids in formation of the basic foundation of their academic life.

3) Reducing emotional pressure– Diary-writing should be appreciated in class as sufficient level of emotional ventilation will reduce the frequency of overthinking. Ask them to use the diary which has positive quotation at the end of page as it gives positive direction to the emotional energy which is expressed on the page.

4) Directional thinking– While students are thinking about their daily life and future, give them examples of potential based thinking (focus on what they can) and working towards what they find difficult. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined”.

 

5) Working on Self Image– how child perceives himself or herself have a great impact on self-esteem and recovery from any disease. So, asking questions related to positive self-image will reduce the negative thinking and increase self-acceptance which will help the child to adjust with the current scenario. Questions can be like-

  1. a) What do you think you are good at?
  2. b) How can you make yourself proud today?
  3. c) What do you love most about yours?

 

6) Virtual Trip- Junior students can enjoy virtual trip with the class. Students can use virtual background of Bus, car, train and airplane and imagine they are going with their friends. Teacher can share the screen and show videos of Wonderland, Water Park and Zoo. After the video is over, teacher can ask questions related to what they observed and how they felt. Teacher can conclude the session with optimism by saying these things will happen in life once COVID-19 is over.

 

In conclusion certain research-based changes in the education system will help the students in meeting this sudden challenge of pandemic effectively as well as maintain their mental and emotional health.

As Noam Chomsky said, “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future because unless you believe that your future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”

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