The pandemic has put a hold on simple things which give pleasure, like looking forward to the summer months.
These negative thoughts occur without any effort on your part, stopping you from completely immersing yourself in the present moment. Again these thoughts are counterintuitive; instead of building your reservoir of happy memories, you strengthen memories of pain and distress.
A woman recently diagnosed with cancer has an excellent recovery ahead of her as her doctor says that she is a young seventy. This lady’s family is on tenterhooks as the cancer is spreading very fast, but having a mom who is a young seventy gives them some relief and is hopeful.
The first scenario depicts hope and living for the moment.
The second scenario illustrates the resilience and preparation for any adversity.
With this mindset, you can brush off the anxiety about the pandemic continuing in the summer. It’s easier said than done, you would say.
How do you go about it, then?
You can begin with being in the moment. Upon waking up each morning, decide your resolve for that day; it can be as simple as stretching or taking a 10-minute walk around your block.
The critical point here is to set a small but easily achievable goal. It is essential as any activity scheduling helps in emotional regulation. Try stretching your arms and see if you feel sad at the same time.
Plan to enjoy one pleasurable activity on its own; it will also help as a mood lifter as you have something to look forward to, without the accompanying guilt. For example, have your morning cup of coffee or your cigarette. If you find it challenging to do as you’ve to get the breakfast ready, try having your morning coffee and your cigarette while sitting down. Make it your special time; this ‘ me’ time will help you in clarifying your thoughts.
If you have difficulty sitting down for meditation due to the hundreds of thoughts flashing in your brain, accept it as you are trying to learn a new habit. The shaping of behaviour takes place by successive approximation or taking small, progressive steps towards your chosen goal.
Another strategy is actively preparing for mediation. I find “mindlessly” walking outside or on the treadmill helps in clearing my brain. Gradually, you will follow your thought process and find you are thinking of various completely unrelated topics but which do have a meaning for you. So, when you sit down for meditation, you will be more in tune with your thoughts and subsequently ignore your thoughts.
It doesn’t mean that you have to stay away from your smartphone forever. Having unrealistic goals of staying away from the screen is not possible as that will cause more stress. The plan is for you to do this activity at a specific time. Once the meditation is over, you can go back to screen time.
Planning for moments here and there in your day will give you the freedom to continue with your day the way you have always done while acquiring a new and more adaptive lifestyle.
Taking one day at a time will keep you from the chasm of the uncertainty and sadness brought on by the pandemic, as now you can plan for your rays of sunshine.
Adapted from my article published in the Telegraph-Journal.
The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting;
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for psychotherapy with a qualified professional.