The events occurring over the last several days have left many feeling anxious, worried, and unsettled. With worldwide news regarding the virus, COVID-19, changing so quickly each day, it can be easy to allow these emotions to dominate our daily lives. We resort to checking social media every few minutes for the latest updates, hoping to keep ourselves connected to the society from which we feel so isolated. We may feel as though we’ve lost control. This loss of control and uncertainty about what is to come can cause added stress which impacts your physical and mental health.
In times such as these, practicing mindfulness can help to calm the mind, comfort our spirits, and facilitate mental and physical well-being. But what is mindfulness? It has been described as drawing awareness to one’s present feelings and experiences, calmly acknowledging and accepting them, to better control our emotions and reduce stress or anxiety. The benefits of practicing mindfulness have been widely explored and include improved stress management, higher self-esteem, decreased anxiety and negative thoughts, and improved sleep, to name a few. In essence, mindfulness can help to balance our moods.
How-to practice mindfulness in less than 10 minutes:
- Find a comfortable position: often lying on one’s back in a dimly lit room.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on slowing your breath, breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Your chest and abdomen should rise and fall together. This may last for several minutes.
- As you are drawing attention to each breath, you may notice that thoughts start to pop into your brain. When this happens, imagine your thoughts as a cloud moving through the sky. Acknowledge each thought, but then allow yourself to let it go by picturing each thought (or cloud) floating away.
This process allows you to gain better control over emotions and stressful thoughts through the process of acknowledgement and release. The more often you practice mindfulness, the better control you will have over your thoughts.
Other avenues to improve health and overall well-being during these times of trial include proper sleep hygiene, appropriate nutrition, and engaging in physical activity as is safe and appropriate. As we await a resolution to this crisis and send our best wishes to those who have been affected, remember also to engage in self-care measures to maintain our own health and wellness.