With all the news and uncertainly surrounding the the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease), mindfulness can help you stay calm while reducing stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation.
Here are a few tips to help you use mindfulness to protect your mental health and cultivate some peace during COVID-19, one breath at a time…
Are you feeling the mental health toll of COVID-19?
Have you been scrolling through social media looking for updates?
Finding yourself unable to stop checking the news?
Feeling increasingly worried, scared, or unprepared?
While infection rates continue to increase and authorities take bolder actions to restrict public interactions, it is not uncommon for people to feel concerned about the current situation.
At times of uncertainty and panic it can be especially beneficial to turn your attention inwards to cultivate a sense of calmness between the chaos.
This does not mean that you ignore everything that is going on around you, but rather that you strengthen your mindfulness skills for managing stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation.
How to use mindfulness for COVID-19
One of the main messages that health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are sending is “wash your hands” and “wash your hands often”.
Being mindful of washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face, particularly eyes, nose, and mouth are essential steps in protecting yourself. Also, making sure that you are washing your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol content are also important.
One way to help yourself clean your hands long enough is to practice a hand washing meditation such as the one below.
Another way to use mindfulness for COVID-19 is to take a step back whenever you are feeling overwhelmed and focus on your breathing. Big inhalations, big exhalations. Focus on your breathing for a few minutes before returning to your tasks.
- Limiting your exposure to social media and distressing news
- Access your news only at designated times of the day instead of constantly checking
- Focus on practical steps to protect yourself and family
- Be kind and compassionate to others, especially health care workers, first responders, and people infected with the illness
- Practice empathy towards others and recognize that there are many far less fortunate who are suffering
- Give gratitude for the health and good fortune you have at this moment
- Try to keep up a routine or make a new routine, especially for children
- Recognize that some people are suffering from the mental toll of the pandemic and may not exhibit symptoms
- Look after yourself by maintaining proper hygiene and getting good sleep
- Cultivate peace and calmness through practices like meditation, yoga, or prayer
Mindful hand washing meditation
Breathing in, I am turning on the tap.
Breathing out, I am placing my hands in the water.
Breathing in, I feel the warm water on my hands
Breathing out, I enjoy the feeling.
Breathing in, I place soap in my hands.
Breathing out, I rub my hands together.
Breathing in, I rub between each finger on my left hand.
Breathing out, I wash between each finger on my right hand.
Breathing in, I lather the back of my left hand.
Breathing out, I lather the back of my right hand.
Breathing in, I rinse my hands.
Breathing out, rinse them once more.
Breathing in, I reach for a clean towel.
Breathing out, I turn off the tap.
Breathing in, I dry my hands.
Breathing out, my hands are clean.
Benefits of staying calm during COVID-19:
It is very easy to get caught up in the news and feel overwhelmed by the coronavirus updates. With a little awareness and some mindful practice, you can cultivate calmness and increase your mental resilience.
The benefits of practicing mindfulness during COVID-19 include:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Being in a mental state where you are able to help others such as family members and friends
- Not getting overwhelmed by new updates
- Avoiding impulsive shopping
- Staying grounded in decision making
- Feeling better equipped to cope with whatever challenges could arise
- Reduced feelings of loneliness
Activities to enjoy at home during COVID-19Keeping yourself informed is certainly a good idea during a pandemic, but there are also lots of other things to do than just check the news and your Twitter feeds. Here are some activities to try at home, whether you are in self-isolation or with your family.
Arts and craftsThis is a good time to get creative and take on some drawing, painting or colouring. If you are low in art supplies, you can always try your hand at writing, signing, developing music, or creating dance choreography.
ReadingThis is a good time to hunker down and read a storybook or the non-fiction piece you have been wanting to read. Find something entertaining that is not on social media. If possible, give your space from the news as well.
Games and puzzlesTry your hand at a jigsaw puzzle, sudoku, cards or boardgames. Studies have found that boardgames benefit your health such as protecting against dementia and cognitive degeneration.
Tidy your houseIf you are feeling stir crazy while cooped up alone, tidy up your living space and get things nice and organized. Reduce the physical chaos around you and create a sense of peace and calm in your tidy home. It also positively impacts your health and helps you focus better.
Get activeThere are lots of free online resources to help you stay fit while gyms and other recreation areas are closed. Exercise also helps you relax, reduce stress, and improves your overall health.
Enjoy natureSome medical professionals are suggesting that people get outside and go for a walk. Take time to enjoy being outside in nature and getting fresh air. Nature also helps you boost your immune system. Listen to the sound of the birds, soak in the sunshine, and stop to smell the roses!
Connect with family and friendsJust because there are limits on social gatherings does not mean that you need to feel isolated. In fact, many specialists are insisting that people stay connected with their social networks. Stay in touch with your family and friends through phone calls, emails, and SMS.
Cooking and bakingThis might just be the opportunity you have been waiting for to try a new recipe or whip up a family favourite. Get out your recipe book or find a new food blog to give you some inspiration.
Staying calm during times of uncertainty such as the recent COVID-19 outbreak has many benefits for the health and wellbeing of yourself, your family, and society at large.
Being mindful, staying calm, and exhibiting compassion are essential to overcoming these difficult times.
Let us work through COVID-19 together as compassionately, efficiently, and mindfully as possible.
Together, we will get through this.
You are not alone!
Photo thanks to @timmossholder