Right now, due to COVID-19 and social distancing, we’re in a moment that may be provoking anxiety in a lot of people. You may have thoughts about what should have been done to be better prepared and concerns about what will happen in the future.
The ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu said, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
“It’s true this present moment may look different than life did even a week ago,” said Intermountain Healthcare’s, Valerie Bentley, PhD, “It’s also true that our worries about what could happen can motivate us to make wise decisions – wash our hands more often, avoid large gatherings. etc. But beyond that, worry and anxiety about all the possible ‘what ifs,’ largely aren’t helpful and might result in missing the sweet moments happening right now and the peace that tends to come when we live in the present.”
Since life today is filled with changes that can be unsettling, Dr. Bentley suggests these mindfulness solutions and resources to help you maintain a sense of focus in the present.
Try 20 seconds of mindful handwashing
We’re all more aware of the importance of hand hygiene and we’re probably washing our hands more frequently. Use those moments of taking action to also refocus on “just this moment.”
As you wash your hands pay attention to:
· How does the water feel on your hands? Do you notice the scent of the soap?
· Notice your hands working over and around each other. Carefully pay attention to the sensations as your hands move together – the fingers, the palms, the thumbs.
· Send some appreciation and gratitude to your hands. Consider the work they do to take care of all your needs, make your food, earn your living.
· As you rinse off the soap, allow worries about the future to be “rinsed off” as well, clearing the mind to focus on what’s happening right now.
· And while you’re drying, notice the sense of life and vitality in your own hands. Feeling some appreciation for this moment, give yourself credit for doing all you can, moment by moment, to stay healthy for yourself and those you care for.
Start the day with a pause
While still lying in bed, before you begin the day, check-in with your breath, your body, and the sounds around you. If your mind is already busy or anxious, acknowledge it, but then take some time to really ground yourself by focusing on sensations in the body. Even 1-2 minutes of “check-in” with yourself in this way can allow you to begin the day more centered and in touch with the current moment.
Practice STOP when you notice you’re getting anxious
S - Stop what you’re doing and take a moment to be still
T - Take a few deep breaths and just be aware that you’re breathing
O – Observe any sensations in your body, thoughts in your mind, emotions in your heart
P – Pause to come back to your breath, then proceed with your day with greater calm
Call or FaceTime a friend and practice mindful listening.
Attend a Live online Mindfulness/Meditation session led by an Intermountain Mindfulness Instructor.
Download (and use) a mindfulness app.
Read a book on mindfulness.
Find additional mindfulness resources including videos, guided meditations, books and more at intermountainmindfulness.org.