Cancel everything. Social distancing. Mandatory work from home. Parents suddenly homeschooling. These are definitely interesting times that we’re living in.
And while none of us knows exactly how the Coronavirus pandemic will unfold, we do have choices about how we respond. We can be practical without panic, and even see the blessings in the chaos.
As a mindfulness teacher, I’m offering lots of online sessions these days to help people go within while they’re stuck inside.
This unique time is a great opportunity to cultivate an inner sense of calm that remains unshaken by external events.
Here are my recommendations:
See the Good
While the current state of affairs is full of uncertainty, there are many silver linings.
In a time when we’re so used to nonstop doing, many of us find ourselves with more time to simply be. Now that you’re out and about less, are you spending more quality time with family and loved ones? Eating healthier at home? Finally reading that book on the shelf? Getting a bit more sleep? Creating any other new positive routines?
Think of this time as a retreat to dive into what nourishes you most.
Count Your Blessings
When the stress of the situation catches you in its grip, shifting your perspective to gratitude is a helpful way to reduce the fight, flight, or freeze response of the amygdala (the core fear system in the brain). Take a break from worrying for a few minutes to reflect on what you’re grateful for. Times like these help us see what and who truly matters to us, and cherish them.
Complete this sentence: “This situation makes me grateful for:______________.”
Focus on Your Breath
Any method which helps you relax, shift your thoughts, and even connect with a higher power is absolutely invaluable in these times. A quick and simple mindfulness meditation that focuses on your breath can really do wonders. Feel free to do this exercise as often as you like. Set a timer for two to five minutes, and spend those minutes just noticing your breath. As thoughts rush into your mind, think of them as clouds passing through a vast sky. Notice the thoughts float by, and then return your attention to your breath.
Clouds will come and go, but the sky remains.
Boost Your Mental Immunity
Be aware of your emotions during this time. You may be worried for your safety or the safety of your loved ones. Notice if your worry escalates to anxiety, and seek support if it’s getting in your way. Fear activates the sympathetic nervous system and sends stress signals throughout the body. Fear is also associated with autonomic dysregulation, which can weaken your immune system.
Instead of letting fear take over, this is perfect time to double down on mental and physical wellbeing through exquisite self-care, which will boost your immunity and resilience.
Physical Distance, Social Connection
While we maintain physical distance from all but our nearest and dearest, it’s critically important that we continue to stay connected to each other—no matter how anxious or home-schooled out we become. Call, text, message, and video chat your loved ones. Join online groups. Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation.
If nothing else, this pandemic helps us see how inexorably connected we all are, how even on a vast planet, our fates remain forever intertwined. Let’s help each other get through this time with levity and kindness.
As we ride out this storm, remember the big picture. When you look into the smallest particles in existence, as quantum physicists do, physical reality is only a tiny fraction of the reality we experience. The rest is energy. That energy responds to our thoughts and emotions.
Our collective response at this time has the power to shift actual particles. Let’s choose an attitude of grace and positivity.