News of a global public health concern like COVID-19 (Coronavirus) can naturally trigger overwhelming feelings of uncertainty and anxiety that can ultimately impact one’s mental health.
Countless individuals worldwide are dealing with sudden changes to their regular schedules leaving many people unemployed, depressed, and apprehensive about their future.
Due to the unprecedented nature and ever evolving news surrounding COVID-19, it is completely expected and appropriate to experience fear and trepidation during periods like these.
Despite these difficult times however, it is also imperative to know not only how to effectively manage potential anxiety but also mitigate negativistic ruminating thoughts from affecting your overall mental health.
Because of this, here are some useful mindfulness exercises that may be beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic:
Breathing is an important component of mindfulness. Whenever you are stressed or overwhelmed, take a moment to relax and simply focus on your breathing.
Slowly inhale and exhale, releasing your tension and stress away with each breath and regain control over how you choose to respond to the situation at hand.
Remember, you are the master of how you choose to interpret the world around you.
Start by closing your eyes and choosing a comfortable position. You can either sit on a chair or lie on your bed.
Once you are breathing comfortably, slowly move your awareness through your body, focusing on one area at a time.
Stop whenever you find an area that is unusually tight or sore and focus your breath on this area until it loosens.
Feel free to use a calm and healing visualization at this point as well (e.g., a ball of white light melting into the sore spot) to help facilitate the healing.
Hold an object that is special or interesting to you.
Focus all of your senses on it and note the information your senses feedback to you, including its shape, size, color, texture, smell, taste, or sounds that it makes when it is manipulated.
Practice this meditation technique daily and feel free to bring this object with you to work or school as this can be an especially helpful tool in grounding you to the present moment.
Like the previous exercise, this exercise can also be completed with all your senses while you focus on eating a particular food that you enjoy, like dark chocolate or a grape.
Eat slowly while utilizing all five senses: smell, taste, touch, sight, and even sound to ease you back to reality.
Lastly, take a leisurely walk at a gentle but familiar pace. Observe how you walk and pay attention to the sights, sounds, and sensations around you as you walk the road ahead of you.
Notice how your shoulders feel, the sensations in your feet as they meet the ground, and the swing of your hips with each stride.
Match your breathing to your footsteps and allow yourself to be immersed with the environment around you and use this time to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.
While the current COVID-19 pandemic can trigger feelings of uncertainty and fear, it is also important to look for opportunities during these especially difficult times to practice patience and kindness.
Use this opportunity to celebrate successes, find things to be grateful about, and take satisfaction in completing tasks regardless of how big or small.
Because in the end, your mental health is important and it needs to be protected.