If you’re feeling uneasy, nervous, panicky, it’s no wonder. This has never happened before. As humans we don’t bode well with change, we like to know what tomorrow will bring, we crave certainty. Nina Kathryn explains how we can turn to mindfulness to create calm and serenity in these uncertain times.
There is a different energy in the air as the world begins to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of us are feeling anxiety, fear and uncertainty right now. We may feel fear surrounding our own health and the health of our families. We may feel anxiety as to how we will make it through these times financially. Or uncertainty about how long the virus will span, and how much of a long-term impact it will have.
Yet through all of these heavy emotions, there is also a worldwide notion of positive change coming about: Slowing down, coming together to support one another, and “waking up” in a sense as to what we take for granted on a daily basis.
How do we navigate the whirlwind of emotions and find our center during this time? Today, I am delighted to share with you 5 ways you can practice mindfulness during COVID-19.
Use these tips as a way to reconnect with yourself and find your own calm amongst the chaos. In doing so, you will find that you are then able to handle the energy of the outside world with greater stability and ease – and be able to better help and support others during this time.
1. Examine Your Relationship with Control
A lot of news articles and social media posts I’ve come across the past few days share the common message that there is a lot of uncertainty right now.
Here is an alternative way to look at it: Uncertainty is always present. Right now, it is simply being magnified.
A mere two weeks ago, most of us had the entire month of March planned out – work, events, vacations, etc. Yet no one could predict the fast spread of COVID-19, quickly throwing most, if not all of our plans out the window.
Before the virus hit, the uncertainty was still present, we just didn’t acknowledge it as deeply as we are right now.
We are more adept at facing uncertainty than we realise, because we face it every day, on a less drastic scale.
With that being said, I think the better approach to the heightened uncertainty right now is to use it as a time to examine our relationship with control.
Here are a few reflective questions to ask yourself:
- What do you feel the need to control right now?
- How does a lack of control make you feel?
- Where does the need to control stem from?
- How can I release the need to control?
2. Embrace the Pause
Do you find yourself living on autopilot most of the time? Rushing from thing to thing, living by a to-do list, not really allowing yourself time and space to breathe? Maybe you believe that life has to be this way.
Rarely do we get the chance to pause nearly everything happening in our lives. This is a special time to do just that.
If you are spending time at home, instead of trying to fill every inch of free time, embrace the pause. Detach from social media, your phone and figuring it all out. You can choose a moment of pause and peace right now.
Here is a note that I shared with my Collective Pause group:
There is power in silence –
just as there is power in the negative space of an art piece,
or the unfilled area surrounding words in a book.
Contrast is what allows life to become vivid.
We need both to absorb the noise of the world and
to let our minds rest in silence.
An imbalance of either will leave us searching.
With a lot of noise happening right now, make sure to find and appreciate a little extra silence during this time.
3. Reconnect with Your Body and Your Breath
You may be unknowingly carrying around a higher level of tightness and stress in your body as a result of heavy emotions. Taking the time to soothe and reconnect with our body and breath allows us much-needed physical and mental relief.
A few suggestions to put this into practice:
- Place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart, spend 5 minutes breathing here. Notice the sound and pattern of your breath, including where it may be getting stuck.
- Ask yourself “What part of me feels okay right now?” By focusing on what feels okay, or even good, we begin leaving anxiety behind and realise that we can find peace in this moment despite what is going on around us.
- Utilise the many wellness organisations offering wonderful, free tools right now. A few to get started:
- Mind Body Green is offering 5 free classes right now, including yoga, meditation and managing fear.
- The Calm App has an entire blog post full of free meditation sessions for different scenarios, as well as mindfulness resources.
- Headspace is offering free Headspace Plus access to healthcare professionals and educators, as well as a series that is free for everyone within the app called “Weathering the Storm.”
4. Be Gentle with Yourself
Allow yourself permission to feel the weight of what we are experiencing right now. These feelings are part of your journey and attempting to push them aside will result in a prolonged healing process.
We have to first acknowledge what we feel and then give ourselves the space to process it before moving on.
This will look different for everyone – find a way that feels good to you. Ask yourself: “What do I need at this moment?”
Also know that all emotions are temporary. For every moment of anxiety or sadness, there will be a moment of hope or joy ahead.
5. Be Transparent with Others
Now is a time to soften our hearts and show ourselves and one another compassion. Part of evoking that compassionate connection is transparency.
While it may feel easy to gloss over what you are feeling or experiencing right now, it will benefit you to share openly with those that you love and trust.
Here are a few ways you can encourage transparency within yourself and others:
- Don’t worry about expressing yourself in a perfect way. Speaking your truth is more relatable when it’s raw.
- Ask meaningful questions and thank the other person for opening up – this can mean a lot to those who have a hard time sharing their feelings.
- Ask how you can best support them during this time. Most people do not want advice (unless they specifically ask for it), but rather to know that you stand behind them and are open to be there in a way that works for them.
In closing, I will leave you with a mindful quote by Louis L’Amour, which seals in the importance of channeling the power of the present during COVID-19:
“Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.” – Louis L’Amour
Through experiencing our world rapidly changing in front of our own eyes, we can begin to recognise the importance of being in the here and now. Let this be a time to find power in the present, gather strength within ourselves and in our community, and take a step towards a more mindful future.