Mindfulness Matters, Especially During a Pandemic

Who knew that as a society in 2020 people would be hyper-aware of the spread of viruses, sporting masks and carrying hand sanitizer the new normal? Who knew limiting our social interactions with friends and even our family would be recommended and even mandated? Or that many of us would be home schooling our children while working from home?

If you would have told me this would be my life in 2020, I would have been in disbelief. And I would have been terrified. This reality has now become the norm. We are now becoming numb to the increasing numbers of cases of COVID-19 and the tightening restrictions.

Mental health concerns are very real in this extremely bizarre time. Constantly living in a state of uncertainty takes a huge toll on everyone. Connecting with friends and family, hugging, going out for dinner, and having playdates – these are activities in which many of us found solace. Limited social interactions and this disruption to our normal lives are cause for anxiety and depression.

Now more than ever, it is imperative to tend to your mental health and ensure self care is at the top of your priority list. Shifting your mindset to embracing a mindful approach is the key to living a more peaceful existence amongst chaos.

Mindfulness can be described as a mental state that helps you remain in the present moment. It is an elevated awareness, where worries about the future or past are not the focus. While practicing mindfulness, feelings are calmly acknowledged and accepted while being fully present in the current moment.

Everyone should practice mindfulness! This is not just for monks or spiritual gurus. Pandemic or not, all of us can benefit from focusing on the here and now. By shifting your focus to the present, anxieties, worries, and even depression will decrease. It’s like breaking life up into small manageable chunks. By increasing our self awareness we invite more positive thoughts, which will inevitably improve our overall happiness.

Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine:

  1. Try meditation. Taking 15 minutes a day to slow your thoughts and sit peacefully can be life-changing. Start your morning by mediating and focus on setting an intention for your day. For example, “Today I welcome light, love and compassion. I will be fully present and engaged with my loved ones.” Unsure how to get started? Listen to my Guided Mindfulness Meditation!
  2. Focus on your breath. If a moment creeps up on you that causes you anxiety or stress, stop and breathe. Take in a long deep breath and hold it for a moment. Slowly release your breath until your lungs are completely empty. Pay close attention to the entire breathing process. Repeat at least five times or until the uneasy feeling passes.
  3. Move your body daily. Intentional movement of  your body has extraordinary benefits. It doesn’t have to be a high intensity workout to improve health. Going for a walk, stretching, and yoga practice are amazing low intensity movements you can do daily to get your blood flowing and muscles moving.
  4. Mindful Eating. The preparation of food and sitting down to eat should be a celebrated ritual. You are fueling your body so that it can perform for you. Take the time to really plan out your meals to optimize health benefits. After all, you only get one body. Intentionally cook. Take the time to cook homemade meals, and enjoy the process. Focus on each task. Cut each vegetable intentionally. When that beautiful meal is ready, reward yourself by appreciating it. Sit down to eat, turn off the TV, and put your phone away. Chew each bite intentionally. Really focus on the taste and texture and don’t rush. Take your time and enjoy.
  5. Actively listen. The best way to improve connection and relationships is to really listen when having a conversation. Also pay attention to non verbal cues like body language. To actively listen means to give your undivided attention to the person who is communicating with you. It seems simple, but in a world of distraction it is very easy to be wrapped up in scrolling through our phones while in a mindless conversation. Everyone wants to felt heard.
  6. Embrace nature. Take yourself on a walk where you really see the nature around you. Focus on the wind blowing, the trees rustling, and the ground beneath your feet. Take note of birds flying and the sun shining. Enjoying the nature around you can be very therapeutic.
  7. Focus on one task at a time. In the blink of an eye, 20 years passes. How does this happen? One way is our multitasking, busy lives! As much as we think we can multitask, we as humans can actually only do one thing at a time. One movement, one thought, one email, etc. What often happens is we bounce from task to task in an attempt to get through them faster. This method often leaves us frazzled and the quality of the task is often compromised. Instead of rushing through a million tasks at once and getting upset, focus on one at a time. While responding to an email, feel the keyboard keys under your fingers, listen to the sound of your fingers typing – really think about your response. This can be done for more mundane tasks too, like washing the dishes. Focus on how the water feels, the sound of the dishes clinking and the satisfaction of completing the task.
  8. Reflect. Take time each day to reflect on your feelings. Check in with yourself. Acknowledge how you are feeling. Journaling is a great way to capture these feelings. Jotting down a few things each day you are feeling and that you are grateful for can really help you live in the moment.

Even in uncertain times we have the power to control our own mindset and we have the ability to shift our focus to live in the moment.

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