With Coronavirus anxiety running high, it’s understandable that we do everything we can to think ahead, plan, analyze the facts, etc. But when our head-based fight-flight-freeze reactivity gets the best of us, it’s much harder to stay grounded, think clearly, respond with care, and sleep well at night.
What can we do?
My recommendation: Mindfulness.
The founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) defines mindfulness as follows:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
So mindfulness has two main components:
- Present moment awareness
- Attitude of non-judgmental curiosity
To put it simply, when thoughts and emotions arrive in your mind, but you let them pass without getting carried away, you’re in mindfulness. It means you are paying attention to, and conscious of, what’s happening around you and inside you.
In some cases, we do need to withdraw from certain situations to see things more clearly, and in some moments it can be helpful to engage our mental facilities to help understand the situation at large; however, more often than not we revert to these habitual ways of being in order to suppress, avoid, or distract ourselves from the present moment.
Mindfulness has many benefits that are scientifically validated:
- Develop greater self-awareness: learn to adapt and respond to complex situations we encounter.
- Develop emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills: by listening to ourselves and others, we communicate better and cultivate relationships that are more respectful of each other.
- Become more responsible for our physical and mental health: having gained in comfort and confidence, we give the best of ourselves in our personal and professional lives.
- Improve memory and concentration abilities
- Develop self-confidence and creativity: more attentive to our intuitions, we can respond better to the daily challenges of life.
It is said that exceptional situations require exceptional resources, in times of uncertainty such as the one we are currently experiencing, mindfulness can be key to increasing resilience and reducing anxiety levels.
So what should we do right now?
My practical advice: Start small, take 1 to 5 minutes every day to practice slowing down, feeling the body, breathing more fully, letting go of thoughts, and returning to the present moment with gratitude and acceptance.