How to Practice Mindfulness During the COVID-19 Pandemic
First, remember that fear and anxiety are normal reactions to what is happening in the world right now. Our brains are hard-wired to notice and react to danger! When we are stressed we trigger our tendency to view our reality through a negative bias and may not see a situation in a balanced way.
Simply remembering that our brains are wired like this can help us break free from limited ways of perceiving the situation and open us to other ways of viewing it. We can practice recognizing fear and anxiety in a non-judgmental way and begin to notice common thought patterns without getting carried away by them.
Here are some other great tips and resources you can use during these uncertain times:
Learn to Take 5
Take 5 is MindWell’s core practice that helps build the skill of mindfulness-in-action. Take 5 can be used anytime or anywhere to lower stress, increase focus and get you back into the present moment.
Practice Mindful Hand Washing
Follow the steps outlined below to make washing your hands a practice in mindfulness.
1. Set the intention to wash your hands mindfully. This means simply saying to yourself, "I will bring my full attention to washing my hands."
2. Engage all of your senses. Feel your feet on the ground beneath the sink and the smoothness of the faucet as you turn on the water. Notice the different colours and textures of the sink and faucet. Hear the sound of the running water and feel its warmth on your hands. Take in the scent of the soap. Immerse yourself completely in the experience of washing your hands.
3. As you finish washing your hands, turn the water off slowly and take a deep breath as you prepare to continue with your day.
Start the Day Off Right
Your daily routine may be adapting which is a good time to incorporate a new habit. Choose one new simple healthy habit to include in your daily morning routine.
This can be drinking a glass of water in the morning when you wake up or doing five minutes of stretching, journalling, or mindfulness practice.
You can even make enjoying your morning cup of coffee, tea or smoothie a practice in mindfulness.
Be Mindful of Media Consumption
Of course we all want to stay up to date on the latest information and news, however we can easily begin to drown in it. Keep your consumption to a reasonable amount and choose reputable news sources like the World Health Organization and Health Canada.
Remember that we consume and digest lots of different types of energy, not just the foods we eat. Ask yourself what am I feeding my mind? My body?
Know that it’s ok to take a break from the news when you need to.
Embrace a New Routine
With many of our regular routines being thrown out the window, we need to create a new game plan for our healthy habits. Build a new routine that includes physical fitness, healthy eating, and sleep!
You may no longer have to spend time commuting to work so use that precious time for a new healthy habit.
Be intentional about what is going to replace your old exercise routines now that gyms are close and sports are cancelled. You don’t need to pack a lunch or go out for lunch, so create a game plan for healthy eating throughout your day. This is an opportunity to try something new.
Finally, catch up on sleep! Go to bed 1 hour earlier than your normal routine and do your best to turn off devices 30 minutes before bed.
Help Each Other
Helping in-person may not be possible at this time, but be sure to check in on loved ones, neighbours and friends, particularly those who may feel extra isolated or worried.
Drop off some groceries for your elderly neighbour, share ideas for how to entertain children online, call your grandma, send a thank you to somebody working on the front lines.
Research shows that in helping others cope with their emotions, we also help to regulate our own emotions!
Take Comfort in Our Common Humanity
We are all in this together - no one is immune to this situation. We all have a role to play in flattening the curve with our socially responsible actions.
Reminding ourselves of our shared humanity and what we can do to help expands our identification from a narrow sense of self to a broader and more evolved understanding of self, one that recognizes the interconnectedness of the world.