In these tumultuous times, we are all trying to wrap our heads around what may be the worst global pandemic we’ll witness in our lifetime. We hope and pray that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) will be contained, and we can go back to living our lives the way they were before “social distancing” became the new normal.
Social distancing is a term used by the Center for Disease Control, which it defines as “avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining six feet from others when possible.” Not only are we challenged to stop touching our faces — which isn’t so easy given that people touch their face an average of 23 times per hour — we can’t shake hands, hug, or even open doors or push buttons in elevators unless we’re wearing gloves.
With the rapid spread of this new virus that’s affecting millions of people worldwide, we feel everything from hysteria to intense anxiety to despondency. Many are convinced it’s the end of the world.
So, what can we do to lighten the stress when we’re living in such a heightened state of fear? When fight-flight-freeze has become our bodies’ natural response each time we listen to the news? Practicing Mindfulness can provide the calming effect we badly need.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and having an awareness of what you’re experiencing in the moment. You might think that Mindfulness would heighten your state of fear because you’re focusing your awareness on your emotions. On the contrary, you can rely on Mindfulness during this unprecedented time to ease the panic. By being aware of how worried and afraid you are, you can actually ameliorate your fear. Mindfulness enables you to work through it with a conscious awareness of how best to do that. You mindfully navigate through your fear in ways that help you stay calm and centered.
Here are some ways to use Mindfulness to help during this difficult time of dealing with COVID-19:
- Recognize the disruption. Acknowledge that this is a difficult time.
- Stay present. Don’t get ahead of yourself and indulge in thoughts like, “The world is coming to an end” or “I’m going to get the Coronavirus” or “My loved ones will get the Coronavirus.” Slow down those thoughts that project into the future in a negative way.
- Use positive self-talk. Tell yourself, “I will get through this;” “The world isn’t coming to an end, that’s my fear talking;” “I’m healthy;” “I can fight this” or any other positive, affirmative statements.
- Take breaks from the news. As you know, the news and social media are filled with one concerning story and update after another. Don’t binge watch. That doesn’t mean you have to tune it out or not watch the news for updates, but take several breaks through the day. Go out for a walk where you can still be by yourself and won’t be in close proximity to others.
- Quiet the mind through meditation. Try meditating by focusing on your breath, which can be very centering, or silently repeating a mantra or sentence that’s positive and affirmative.
- Take a soothing bath. Draw a warm bath and fill it with Epsom or magnesium salts, or essential oils like lavender or chamomile — all which can be very relaxing. You can light candles, and silently say soothing, calming things to yourself like, “I feel myself relaxing;” “I’m in control of my feelings;” “I’m choosing to feel at peace;” or “I’m surrounded by healing, white light.”
- Preserve your before-bed peace. At least an hour before you go to bed, turn off the TV and put away your devices. Listen to soothing music or read a book that will take your focus off of worrying. You can also put on a diffuser with essential oils. Many of them are good for sleep.
The Coronavirus is very real and very frightening, but so are the thoughts we tell ourselves. Be aware of your internal monologue, and if it’s negative, try and make a concerted effort to switch to positive alternatives.
Tell yourself, as with all difficult times, “This too shall pass.”