Mindful Habits to Help Deal with the Stress of the Coronavirus Disease
Mindfulness has been defined as "a moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience without judgment" (1). A good example of mindfulness is when we are eating slowly, focusing on the experience and enjoying the taste of our food, without paying attention to anything else (no worries crossing our mind or television noise in the background). Mindfulness means being fully present and focusing solely on our present activity (whatever that may be).
The opposite of mindfulness would be those times when our body works on "autopilot". We may not even notice that we have already completed a routine task at times, such as: brushing our teeth or locking the door after ourselves - a testament that we had not been 'present' in those moments!
There is a compelling body of scientific research which suggests that practising mindfulness regularly can help lower our stress levels and it may also help alleviate symptoms of various mental and physical ailments (3).
In this article, I have collected some easy and simple mindfulness techniques to help cope with the stress of the pandemic we are all experiencing at the moment.
Self-kindness, also called ’self-compassion’ is just what it says on the tin: it means making an effort to be kinder to ourselves by correcting our inner thoughts when we notice we are being harsh to ourselves. When we notice that we have been unkind, we can remedy this by imagining what would we say to a friend in the same situation? Try and tell yourself the same thing you would say to a dear friend. Afterall, who can we count on to have our backs if not ourselves?
Try mindful eating (or drinking)
Try and turn eating or drinking into a nourishing ritual by focusing only on the taste of the food and the experience of eating. Notice the textures and aromas as they arise; try to truly savour it. Eating or drinking in this way can be very relaxing and it requires little effort. It is best if you start practising this activity with a food or beverage you particularly enjoy.
Be mindful about handwashing
You can turn handwashing into a relaxing experience! Focus on the sensation of washing your hands and enjoy it by adjusting the water temperature to your liking. Choose a scented soap if you like. Try and focus only on the sensation of washing your hands, and thank yourself for taking care of yourself.
You may try a meditation exercise to help you experience love and gratitude such as this one: Loving-Kindness Meditation - Berkeley
If you are a parent, you could even do this meditation with your children. It can be a fun activity to do together.
Practice self-compassion during hard times
When life gets hard, you may find it helpful to repeat a mantra such as this:
„This is a moment of suffering.
Suffering is part of life.
May I be kind to myself in this moment.”
This is a fairly generic self-compassion statement, but you could modify this to your liking.