- Due to COVID-19 and the lifestyle changes we have been forced to make, many of us are struggling with anxiety, stress, feelings of loneliness, and other difficult emotions.
- Fortunately, self-care activities such as mindfulness can help us to work through these emotions and relieve any anxiety or stress we might be experiencing.
- Mindfulness is refocusing your mind on the present—it’s bringing attention to everything happening in the current moment, as opposed to the past or future.
- To get started with mindfulness, simply find a quiet spot to sit or lay down; then, ask yourself what you’re feeling right now and then pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, even physical reactions.
- There are several specific mindfulness practices that can help you experience its benefits: grounding, positive mantras, deep-breathing, and simply moving your body.
How are you feeling right now? If we were to guess, you’d probably say you’re doing okay. And while that might be true, it’s probably also true that you’re struggling with anxiety, stress, feelings of loneliness, and/or other difficult feelings.
Due to the spread of COVID-19 and our efforts to stop it, life is evolving. We’re spending most of our time indoors, secluded in our houses and apartments, with the exception of going to the grocery store, pharmacy, or getting some fresh air. This makes many of us feel anxious, stressed, and lonely, as we adjust to working from home, not seeing our loved ones (except for on FaceTime), and spending a lot of time alone.
While this isn’t easy for any of us, there are techniques that can help you confront and work through your emotions. One of these techniques is mindfulness, and we’re going to tell you all about it.
Embrace the Power of the Present
Mindfulness is all about retuning your mind to focus on the present moment. It’s becoming aware of everything happening right now, instead of anxiety-provoking thoughts about the past or the future. Believe it or not, this practice is intuitive, but because we’re always hustling or ruminating (or both), we have to switch to a manual gear and take it upon ourselves to readjust our minds accordingly.
Mindful meditation is growing in popularity, as its benefits are realized. In addition to reducing anxiety, mindfulness helps reduce stress, lift your mood, and soothe feelings of loneliness and isolation. To experience these benefits for yourself, give mindfulness a go. Start with a simple practice called a self-check-in. Here’s how it works:
- Find a comfortable place to sit or lay down.
- Ask yourself, “What am I feeling at this very moment?”
- Tune into your body. How is it responding?
- Pay attention to how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking.
- If your mind begins to wander, redirect it to the present moment.
When you begin to incorporate mindfulness into your day to day, it’ll become more objective. And soon enough, hopefully you’ll find yourself naturally focusing on what’s going on around you and within you right now.
4 Helpful Practices Rooted in Mindfulness
There’s no strict how-to guide when it comes to practices like meditation, but Meghan Renzi, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Yoga Teacher, has some helpful tips for exploring all that mindfulness has to offer. Let’s try a few practices rooted in mindfulness:
- Practice grounding. “Grounding is a great way to come back to the present moment when anxious thoughts are in your head,” Renzi explains. One way to do this is to play the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 game. This game is simple. First, settle in to a comfortable position. Then, name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This forces you to tune into your current environment and realize that everything is okay right now.
- Re-center your mind with positive mantras. Another powerful mindfulness practice is to simply recite positive mantras—this can prove particularly beneficial right now, as many of us are struggling to focus on the positive. Renzi says you must remember that everything passes, and one mantra in particular—one you’ve likely heard before—is sure to come in handy: “The good moments, the bad moments, the awkward moments, they all pass. Life is constantly changing. If you keep in mind the mantra, ‘this too shall pass,’ it can help,” she says. You can even right your mantra on sticky notes or on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself and keep it top of mind.
- Practice deep breathing techniques. Deep belly breathing is another beneficial practice rooted in the basics of mindfulness, especially when you’re feeling anxious. “Try belly breaths—breathing deeply into your belly,” Renzi recommends. “As you inhale, inflate your belly like a balloon. As you exhale, watch your belly collapse. See if you can make your exhale a bit longer than the inhale,” she says. “This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping your body to calm down.” She continues on to say that square breathing is also beneficial, whereas you match the counts of your inhales and exhales.
- Move your body. And finally, simply move your body. Fortunately, our current circumstances do not prevent us from spending time outside or exercising. So, get out there and get moving. “Sometimes unexpected life circumstances can leave you paralyzed. Coming back into your body by walking, stretching, or practicing some yoga can send your body the message that you are not stuck in this place,” she explains. This open-ended practice allows you to truly stay in control.
We hope mindfulness and practices rooted in mindfulness will help you to find your calm right now. We know it isn’t easy—all we can do is our best right now. And that’s okay.