If you’re feeling stressed by the current global crisis, you’re not alone. After all, our sense of normalcy has been upended almost overnight. Health worries, economic fears, “social distancing,” and uncertainty about the future have created in many of us a sense of deep unease. Add to that a 24/7 news cycle focused almost exclusively on the latest information (or misinformation) about the crisis, and it can start to seem like everything is spinning out of control.
It’s precisely at moments like this that the practice of mindfulness can help, by changing our perspective and providing some much-needed peace-of-mind. Here are five mindful ways to tame your anxiety and nurture your overall well-being.
1. Acknowledge your feelings with gentleness and compassion.
It’s perfectly normal to be worried in the face of uncertainty, danger, and loss. But that doesn’t mean that we have to let our feelings control us. Ironically, the better we get at recognizing our feelings, the less power they tend to have over us. We can remind ourselves, “This is what I’m feeling right now and it’s really hard. But it will pass.”
2. “Social distancing” shouldn’t mean emotional distancing.
We humans need each other, a truth that’s embodied in the mindfulness principle that all beings are interconnected. Instead of isolating, now is the time to reach out to friends and family and let them know how much you care about them. Even if you can’t be physically close, a text, call, or video chat can strengthen the important emotional bonds that support and sustain us.
3. Connect with nature.
If there’s a silver lining to the current crisis, it’s the fact that it’s unfolding during springtime. What a wonderful excuse to turn off the news, disconnect from your devices, and be mindful of nature’s beauty. Take a walk or run, or simply sit and observe the returning birds, emerging crocuses, and budding leaves. Pause for a moment to actually feel the sun on your face and the warmth in the air. There’s something deeply comforting about earth’s cycle of decline and rebirth, a measure of certainty that’s especially profound in uncertain times.
4. Be kind.
Stress can bring out the worst in all of us. It can make us impatient and judgmental and trigger the very human instinct to think only of ourselves. But if we can be mindful of the fact that everyone around us is struggling—some with much greater worries than our own—we can extend the kindness and generosity that make things a little bit easier for us all.
5. Remember to breathe.
With all of today’s stress and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to center ourselves in the present moment. The mindfulness practice of focusing on the breath can help us do just that. Even a few conscious, gentle breaths can slow racing thoughts and provide a moment of clarity and calm. And by bringing our awareness to the present, we can set worry aside and take time to appreciate all that we have to be grateful for in the here and now.
Beverly Conyers is a mother of three grown children. She began writing about addiction when she discovered her youngest daughter had become addicted to heroin. Beverly is one of the most respected voices in recovery whose books have been used in addiction facilities across the U.S. Through her books, she hopes to reduce the stigma of addiction to help families and friends develop effective coping strategies, and to offer support, strength, and hope by sharing fact-based information and real-life stories of struggle and recovery. Her most recent book, Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness to Recover from Anything is now available.