Although mindful living practices might not prevent the spread of the new virus or solve our financial or other problems, they can certainly help us in many different ways.
Is mindfulness helpful? Read How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Overall Mental Health
How to use mindfulness during self isolation
Psychologist Jordan Fiorillo Scotti, Ph.D. writes that COVID-19 and self isolation is a “powerful reminder that there are forces greater than ourselves that don’t bend to our wills. It is humbling and humanizing, and can even be a meaningful turning point in our lives if we give ourselves time to absorb the lessons of this experience.”
The key to surviving social distancing and the adverse psychological effects of quarantine is through mindful living practices. Here are a few ways mindfulness can help you not only to pass your time but also use this time for personal growth.
1. Breathe and pause
Breathing is one of the best and most effective ways to practice mindfulness. Mindful breathing is simply being aware of your breath and bringing your awareness to your breath in the present moment. Deep breathing and other breathing exercises also allow us to slow our mind, pause and reflect on our thoughts and emotions. The better we are able to reflect, the better we will be able to identify with our fears. In fact, a scientific analysis conducted in 2017 found that deep breathing is “capable to induce an effective improvement in mood and stress.”
Mindful breathing will allow you to realize when you are panicking and get control over your thoughts by simply being aware of them. In a The New York Times post, Dani Johnson, physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, says “It’s really important that we take a few moments and pause and really just sort of relax ourselves and our nervous system.” She recommends the diaphragmatic breathing technique as it can be very helpful during self isolation.
Another 2017 study on diaphragmatic breathing discovered that the technique can “improve cognitive performance and reduce negative subjective and physiological consequences of stress in healthy adults.”
2. Be aware of your fears & emotions
Becoming aware of what you are afraid of will help you deal with the fear of self isolation and prevent you from panic buying or making unnecessary decisions. It will also help you cope with whatever issue is causing anxiety and stress.
Zoe Weil writes “Noticing that your heart is racing with fear can give you enough distance from that fear to take some deep breaths and find an outlet that soothes, calms, and interrupts the anxiety.” Although bringing awareness to your fears might be difficult for most of us, Zoe adds, “but thinking like a solutionary is proactive, leading to better mental and situational outcomes.”
A systematic review conducted in 2018 found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) can improve psychological functioning. The study noted “Based on our analysis, the strongest outcomes were reduced levels of emotional exhaustion (a dimension of burnout), stress, psychological distress, depression, anxiety, and occupational stress.”
Feeling stressed due to coronavirus? Read Coronavirus Anxiety: 5 Things You Can Do To Beat It
3. Be compassionate
As the level of confusion and chaos rises during this global pandemic, it becomes increasingly crucial that we have empathy and compassion. Being empathetic and compassionate will help you get some new perspective on the circumstances and help us all get through these difficult times together.
Psychologist Jordan Fiorillo Scotti Ph.D. writes “Take care of others… Check-in (via phone/email) on elderly neighbors or relatives to see if they need help. Pick up a bag of groceries or medications for someone at higher risk than you.”
Author Zoe Weil M.A., M.T.S, adds “Shifting your attention from “me to we” will help you immeasurably. If you are healthy and relatively secure, focus on what you can do for others to relieve not just their imagined dread, but their very real hardships.”