The era of COVID 19 has introduced a plethora of lifestyle changes, some forced and unintentional and others that have slowly become more intentional with time. May of these changes combined with the uncertainty of the time has caused a sharp increase in the struggle with stress, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and difficult emotions.
For many, our lives have revolved around COVID 19 and attempting to gain control in ending it and finding normalcy within all the chaos. With so many of us continuing to spend increased time inside our houses and apartments, there have been limited outlets for processing. While certain exceptions of stay at home orders included grocery runs, picking up medication and necessary visits to the doctor’s office, escape has been few and far in between. While the pandemic has been far from easy for any of us, we have found some practical exercises in mindfulness to be helpful.
The essence of mindfulness is “being one with the present.” It is about embracing your present moment, no matter what the present moment contains. Focusing on currently what is happening around you, what is happening to your body, to your breadth, observing your mind and getting in touch with not your past or future projected reality is its essence. Anxiety often lives in the future and in memories of the past. The current moment, unless in a truly dangerous situation, rarely contains the anxiety. So, when feeling anxious, using mindfulness to get back to your current moment, your “safe harbor” so to speak, can be an incredibly powerful tool.
Mindfulness is more than just the latest cool fad in holistic wellness. I actually once had a mom say to me in session that she “hates mindfulness.” I told her that it was really interesting because really, mindfulness is the only refuge she had from her constant anxiety. Bringing herself back to the current moment, grounding, moving away from future worries or past memories was actually where she was able to break the constant cycle of anxiety she was experiencing. She said, “Interesting, I never thought of it that way.” Shortly after, she visited me again and told me that mindfulness was her new best friend and with regular practice, it was her go to tool when she felt she was being swept up in the next wave of anxiety.
Here are some basic steps to start practicing mindfulness… just follow along and keep practicing, even if its not immediately working! I like to tell my clients and patients that practicing mindfulness is like working out a muscle, the more you do it, the stronger it becomes, and the more effectively its able to intervene in spaces of anxiety and depression. So, let’s start! Give yourself 3 mins, via timer.
- First, sit or lay down in a comfortable place
- Ask yourself, “how do I feel right now?”Pay attention to the different feelings in the different parts of your body. Pay attention to any pain you are experiencing. Pay attention to anything that feels good and comfortable. Observe your breadth.
- Listen to your body’s response.
- Stay focused on this moment.
- Now, how do you feel? What are you thinking?
- When your mind starts to wander into the future, bring it back to this moment. When it starts to dabble in the past, bring it back to this moment. When it starts to come up with a to do list for later, bring it back to this moment.
Pro tip- if you are having trouble coming back to the moment, refocus on your breadth.
By practicing mindfulness on a daily basis, even for 3 mins, you will start to gain trust in the present moment and catch yourself when you are living in future anxiety or past experiences more easily throughout the day. You will be exercising a learned behavior that can be a very powerful tool when needed.
Here are three more practical, cliff notes style applications of mindfulness-based medication.
The Practice of Grounding
This is a great way to become mindful of your surroundings. You can do this by playing the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 game. In this game, you need to first sit in a comfortable position. Then you should name five things you can see, four things that you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing that you can taste. This game forces you to tune into your current environment and gain a sense of stability that while your brain might be wanting to operate in fight or flight anxiety mode, that in fact, you are actually okay.
Positive mantras to help refocus when being flooded with anxiety provoking or depressive thoughts:
These can be really personal, some come up with one or two that really speak to you and have a centering effect. The one I find particularly helpful not only for myself but for my patients is, “this too shall pass.” Be it the good moments, bad moments, awkward moments, etc.; everything will pass. Life is a constant change, and this mantra is a reminder that nothing is permanent which is particularly comforting if you are going through difficult stresses or emotions.
Moving Your Body
Did you know you can be mindful by just moving your body? No tricks here, I promise! All you have to do is get out and get moving. When unexpected circumstances leave your body with a paralyzed feeling, taking immediate control by getting up and moving (whether that be dancing, jogging, running, swaying from side to side, stretching does not matter!). You can take a walk, stretch your muscles, practice yoga. This helps let your body and ultimately your brain know that you are not stuck in this current moment/feeling/emotion, even if it feels like you are. You can truly take control of your mental space with this practice.
If you are interested in finding more about online therapy, holistic treatments including mindfulness, deep breathing, medication and medication management in Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Nebraska and Minnesota, please follow these three simple steps.
- Call (347) 830 7720, click client portal on the top left side or hit the book now button to get in touch with Thriving Lane. Our staff will do a free 10-minute consultation to see how we can help.
- Connect with us through our newsletter and online content to help improve your mental health even if you aren’t ready for teletherapy, telemedicine, or telecounseling.
- Begin the journey to finding your inner peace and achieving your highest potential!
In addition to online therapy for transitions in life, Thriving Lane offers a variety of mental health services to the locations below. These include individual counseling for women, anxiety counseling, depression treatment, counseling for expectant and new mothers, and counseling to help process trauma. Please note, due to licensing laws, our providers are only able to deliver services in the states they are currently licensed in which include Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Nebraska, and Minnesota, with more to come.