You check the news for reports of new cases as you do the dishes, run the washing machine, and keep an eye on the kids. Or scan your phone for updates from family and friends, wondering who might be affected by the Coronavirus and how, while prepping for dinner, and planning for the next day. Life can seem rushed even on normal days. Add to it the threat of a pandemic, and there’s more stress and overwhelm to deal with. How can you reduce the feeling of panic and find calm?
We suggest practicing mindfulness – being present in the moment, while being aware of your thoughts, bodily sensations, and surroundings. Its benefits are many and well-established. Some significant ones are a positive impact on our immune system, reduced stress, and increased overall well-being.
While realizing these benefits can take time and regular practice, here are some simple ways in which you can start cultivating mindfulness every day:
- Mindful eating. Ever rushed through a meal without noticing what you ate? Mindful eating calls for just the opposite. To practice it, breathe deeply a few times before starting a meal. Notice how hungry you feel and eat according to it. Take time to savor the smell, taste and texture of food. Chew slowly and relish each mouthful. This doesn’t just help you slow the pace of a hectic day; it also lets your body better digest the food.
- Body scan. In this practice, also called body scan meditation, you focus your attention on the feelings and sensations of your body. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and gently scan each part of the body beginning with the head and going all the way to your toes. As you go over each part, notice how it feels. Perhaps your back is stiff, or the knee hurts? The purpose here is not to change how you feel, but more to be aware of the feelings, even aches and pains, helping the mind direct its attention on the body.
- Mindful listening. How often have you nodded at someone talking to you while mentally ticking off things from your to-do list or checking your social media updates? Mindful listening requires you to pay complete attention to the person talking to you, and to listen without judgement. No multi-tasking. No distractions. This in itself helps you be present in the moment, quietening the mental chatter inside your head. Moreover, good listening skills let you connect better with people and build stronger relationships.
These practices might seem common-sense based but that’s also what makes them accessible. They can easily fit into your daily routine and be adopted almost anywhere, and at any time. All the more reason to try them, right?