Mindful Living During a Pandemic
Amanda Marshall, Psychology Intern
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken this year from us, and has created a lot of confusion, stress, anxiety, and frustration. Between remembering your PPE while running out to the grocery store, managing online instruction for the kids, working from home or experiencing job loss, and managing all the necessary day-to-day tasks like laundry, cooking, and cleaning – this is getting old quick! It can feel like a bag of bricks that we have been dragging around for months, and if you ask me, this is exhausting. When the world is swirling around us like this, and there are only so many things we can really control, it is important to take a step back. Practicing mindfulness is an effective tool for each of us to have in our back pocket.
Here are some tips for mindful living (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic):
Three Good Things. This practice, promoted in positive psychology, can help you to refocus your mind, build resilience, and encourage feelings of happiness and optimism. As we learn to adapt to living through these unusual times, it may be nice to start or end you day with Three Good Things. There is a lot of flexibility with how you choose to engage with this task as long as you include these main elements: (1) think of something good that you have in your life or that has happened recently; this can be something as simple as an enjoyable conversation with a friend, (2) reflect on how this positive thing impacts you and your life, and (3) take a moment to experience gratitude for the positive thing you have identified. Repeat these steps, identifying Three Good Things in your life. You may even enjoy journaling about these good things to have them to look back on when you are in need of a positive reminder.
Mindful Appreciation. This year, our routines have been dismantled, and many are struggling to find a new normal. As we move through each day, mindfulness and appreciation can help us to build a more positive mindset and provide moments for much needed reflection. To use these tools, allow yourself to have greater awareness of each of your activities throughout the day (eating, getting your kids ready, listening to the rain fall, or even sipping that first cup of coffee!) and allow yourself to acknowledge the significance of each of these small things. Sometimes the repetition of our daily routine can overshadow the simple joys, so try to draw your attention in on these moments and intentionally dedicate a thought to appreciating what is there in front of you. Recognizing the small things in life can help us to gain a more positive outlook and have greater appreciation for where we are today, instead of concern for where we will be tomorrow.
Meditation and Laughter. Sometimes finding much needed balance in life can feel impossible, but meditation and laughter can help us to achieve some of that balance by reclaiming our calm and enjoying life out loud. Meditation is quiet, purposeful, and allows the mind to rest and reduce anxiety. Laughter can be loud, it releases tension in the body and helps to alleviate stress. Laughter has an immediate effect, increasing positive feelings, stimulating the heart and lungs, and releasing endorphins in the brain. I think we could all use a bit more laughter in our lives, especially when life feels uncertain and stressful. Finding ways to incorporate meditation into your day (even if it is only 3 or 5 minutes!) and finding ways to laugh throughout each day can lead to wonderful long-term benefits and are simple ways to engage in self-care.
Life may feel uncertain right now. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but these are just a few small ways that we can encourage a more positive mindset, brighten our day, and engage in some much-needed self-care.