“A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
Who knew just 45 days ago, as we entered into March, the world would soon come to a complete standstill and we would find ourselves walking in uncharted territory. Although people have lived through pandemics before we haven’t. When we feel powerless, fear and shame have a way for showing up. And that along with the anxiety of the situation complicate the ocean of emotions we are trying to navigate.
- How will I provide for my family?
- How will I protect my family?
- What if I get sick?
- The media coverage of loss is overwhelming.
- Social media is inundated with information, what is the truth?
- Where can I find toilet paper?
- When will this end?
- Will things ever be “normal” again?
These, along with others thoughts may have washed over you as you began bobbing along in your own personal body of water you found yourself in brought on by the COVID-19 storm. Taking the time to open yourself up and allowing yourself to sit with all of your emotions even the “bad” ones is important. But equaling important, and very powerful, is learning how to help pull yourself out of the whirlpool. One activity that can help during times like this is mindfulness. Here are some ways I’ve found to help allow mindfulness in and calm the waters.
- Take moments to be present where no level of effort is required. Watch the clouds and find things with in the shapes created by the wind as they move across the sky. Feel the warm sun on your skin. Take stock in the temperature of the air as you focus on being present with the sky. Breath in the air and feel it as it moves through you.
- Take deep breaths. I love to do this with an activity I call Take A Bubble Break. I simply go outside and take a moment to blow bubbles. I know it sounds silly, but it forces me to take a deep breath and narrow my focus to create a bubble. It also gives me a sense of completion when the perfect bubble floats away.
- Take time to focus on connections to others. Think of all the people that have been supportive in helping you get where you currently are. The chemistry teacher in undergrad that made office hours for you. The good friend that sat with you to help mend a broken heart. The pet sitter that watched your dog as you traveled on your dream vacation. The person that trained you how to place your first catheter. Those were just some personal examples and I am grateful for how each one of them positively impacted my life.
PS. Why not send a thank you text or card today to someone that has positively impacted your life. Right now we all could use a little help to brighten our current situation.
- Take time to literally “stop and smell the roses”. In the US at least, we are living through this horrible pandemic during spring time. There are trees, bushes, and flowers beginning to bloom everywhere. Allow yourself permission to just enjoy the smell for 5 minutes. Maybe it will remind you of a happy memory from the past. Don’t have access to flowers – scented oils, lotions, or candles are a great substitute.
- Take up coloring. Studies show that coloring stimulates the brain into a space similar to that of meditating which allows our brain to quiet. Coloring can also wake our creative mind which can help ease feelings of anxiety. And when our creative minds are awoken, new ideas on how to tackle and embrace the challenges we are faced with can surface.
Social distancing, masks in public, temperature checks before entering the work place, so much of our lives have changed almost overnight while we not so patiently wait for a vaccine for COVID-19. But everything doesn’t have to be negative. Mindfulness is a powerful tool we can leverage to help come to terms with this new world we are living in. Even just a few mindful minutes a day can have a profound effect on calming the chopping waters.