Pandemic getting you down? You wouldn’t be the only one. Studies show that globally more people than ever are feeling stressed, anxious and depressed. But there is a simple way to help yourself feel better during this pandemic – by practising mindfulness. It is easy to do, costs nothing and can be done from the comfort of your own home.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves simply paying attention to what you are doing in the present moment, without judgement or criticism. You might choose to practise mindful breathing or mindful walking, or even just pay close attention to the sights and sounds around you when you’re out for a walk. Several studies have shown that mindfulness helps boost mood and reduce stress levels, making it a great tool for coping with difficult times like these pandemic-induced stressors.
We all think about meditating when we think about mindfulness, and that’s a great place to start, but anything can be a mindful activity if you look at it the right way, even eating or having a shower! Just slow down, and focus on the immediate moment and what you’re doing. Tastes, sensations, and sounds.
If you have:
2 minutes: Pay attention to what you’re doing right now. Drinking a coffee? Notice what it tastes like, how it feels in your mouth, the sensation of your hands on the cup. Listen for what sounds you hear. Look carefully at the colour of the coffee, notice little details. Or simply pay attention to your breath. Close your eyes (not if you’re driving or operating heavy machinery) and notice where you feel your breath.
10 minutes: Go for a walk. Mindful walking is a great way to focus your attention on the present. Pay attention to the sensations of your feet hitting the ground, the way your body moves, the feel of the sun or wind on your skin. Clearing your mind of all thoughts – that’s impossible. It’s about learning to focus on the present
30 minutes: Set aside some time for a more extended mindfulness practice. Try a meditation app like Headspace or Calm, or find a guided meditation online. There are plenty of free options available. Once you’ve found one you like, find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down, and simply focus on your breath. If your mind wanders, that’s OK, just gently bring your attention back to your breath.
At Women’s Health and Wellbeing Services we run regular workshops and mindfulness exercises including meditation, mindful walking, and many other relaxation exercises. Check it out on our website or Facebook.