With 85 million cases and counting, the COVID-19 pandemic has redefined our personal and professional lives. Everything, from our daily routines and work ethic to dietary habits and mental well-being, has felt the impact of living an isolated life devoid of human interaction.
If you have been feeling stressed out, depressed, or anxious in the last few weeks, you are not alone. There are millions of people who are experiencing the same paradigm shift in their lives due to COVID-19. The good news is that there is a remedy you can rely on – mindfulness. Many of us are familiar with this practice through our deep connection with holistic education and as we embark on 2021 we offer this resource as a supportive reminder.
The Principles of Mindfulness
Although the term is defined in numerous ways, mindfulness is all about being intentionally and deliberately more focused on what’s happening right now without drawing any conclusions. It gives you a sense of liberation in the moment by enabling you to let go of the worries related to what has already happened, the past, and what is about to happen, the future.
That being said there are a few fundamental principles of exercising mindfulness which you need to be mindful of.
As human beings, we have a habit of judging our experiences in terms of black and white. We are quick to assign labels to what we are feeling and that often drives our behavior. The non-judging principle dictates that instead of trying to categorize our experiences as good or bad, we should become impartial observers. This allows us to be more objective towards our own experiences and how we react to them.
Another key principle of practicing mindfulness is leveraging your capacity to be patient. You have to give yourself sufficient time to grow your personality and learn about yourself before you can become mindful. Every time your mind wanders around, try to focus on the present moment. It will take time but eventually, you will get hold of it.
You cannot be a mindful individual until you learn to trust yourself and your feelings. You need to understand the fact that you need to have confidence in what you are learning about yourself and that the events will eventually unfold in a manner that enables you to be a more focused person. You also learn to believe in the validity of your own intuition, feelings, and thoughts.
4. Beginner’s Mind
This principle pushes us to develop a beginner’s perspective on everything we see, feel, experience, and observe. Fundamentally, you are a child in an adult’s body who is seeing everything for the first time. This enables us to redefine and reshape our experiences so we are in a position to pay more attention and be more focused on them. Try walking into the next official meeting as it’s your first-ever meeting experience.
Holistic Approach to Being Mindful in Your Personal & Professional Lives
There are different ways to exercise mindfulness in your daily life. You need to gradually work on building these habits so eventually, they become a part of your routine. Start with the easiest behaviors and exercises and work your way up from there.
Mindfulness Workouts for Relieving Stress
One of the key objectives of becoming a mindful individual is to get rid of all the emotional, physical, and psychological stress. There are many specific exercises that you can use during quarantine and self-isolation period for stress management in the times of COVID-19.
- Square Breathing – It is the first step to master relaxation breath training. Imagine a square in your mind and breathe in for four seconds. Hold it in for four seconds and then let your breath go for four seconds. Once again hold for four seconds and then repeat. This will help you relax and steer clear of troubling thoughts.
- Dropping the Anchor – As the phrase suggests, it means that you need to let go of everything that is weighing you down. It includes relaxation breathing, stretching your body, intently listening to the sounds around you, and observing your surroundings. It is about expanding self-awareness and acknowledge your presence, feelings, and emotions.
- Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PMR) – This workout involves combining your breath work with a workout. In PMR, you tense a certain muscle group as you breathe in and then you breathe out relaxing those muscles. It can be difficult to be good at PMR right from the start so you’d need some practice.
Finding Balance between Work & Personal Lives
COVID-19 has forced an overwhelming majority of us to work from home. While working remotely from home has its benefits, it has also blurred the boundary between your personal and professional lives. That’s why it is important to be mindful about maintaining your work-life balance during these testing times. Here are a few practical steps you can take.
- Limit Your Multitasking – Make a routine for yourself and do not conflate your personal time with work. This will enable you to draw a line between your professional and personal lives. Moreover, do not attempt to perform more than one task at a time, especially if one is personal and the other is work-related. For instance, taking care of your child while attending a meeting.
- Making Time to Focus – One of the most important ways to be mindful is to ensure you have sufficient time to focus on yourself including your health, appearance, mental health, diet, and other activities. If you are too busy, make time to focus on yourself and be mindful about everything you do.
- Practise Mindfulness As a Family – Since you are already at home and everyone is coping with these tough times in their own way, making a collective effort to be mindful as a family can have a great impact on each family member. Try to have at least one meal a day as a family and engage in fun activities instead of staying confined to your rooms.
Focus on Your Mental Health
According to research conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Institution as well as the University of British Columbia, 40% of surveyed individuals admitted that their mental health has been affected since the COVID-19 pandemic. People are now more depressed and 20% of individuals are relying on alcohol as a coping mechanism. This is why it has become crucial to exercise mindfulness and ensure your mental health is in good condition.
- Maintain Communication with Loved Ones – Although social distancing and self-isolation have made it more challenging than ever to be social and meet your family members and friends, you still need to find ways to communicate with them. Wear masks and maintain a distance while meeting or if that’s too risky, use digital tools like Skype, Zoom, and other social media apps to stay connected.
- Meditation & Yoga – To deal with your mental health, you can also rely on meditation techniques and yoga. Here are a few meditation techniques that can help you in terms of staying physically and mentally fit.
Sitting Meditation – With a straight back, sit in a relaxed manner and place your feet flat on the ground. Keep your hands in your lap and breathe through the nose focusing on your breath. Try to maintain your focus on your breath.
Walking Meditation – Walk slowly in a quiet space and put all of your concentration on the experience of walking. The way your feet touch the floor and the movements that help you maintain your balance, try to make yourself aware of every subtle aspect.
Body Scan Meditation – With the extension of your legs, lie on your back. Keep your arms on either side and position your palms in a way that they are facing up. Now focus your mind gradually on each part of your body from head to toe or vice versa. Be mindful of any thoughts, emotions, or sensations you may feel associated with every body part.
- Stress Relieving Activities – Apart from meditation and maintaining contact with your loved ones, you can also engage in certain activities that help you get rid of stress. For instance, you can play an instrument, sing, draw, paint, color, or perform any other activity that allows you to take a break from your stressful routine.
Manage Your Emotions for Improved Productivity
A lot of emotions and sentiments can bottle up when you are isolated from society. When we are living our normal lives, we form habits that allow us to unload ourselves emotionally and mentally. COVID-19, unfortunately, has taken away that luxury by confining us to our homes. That being said if you are mindful of your emotions, you can still be a highly productive individual.
- Perform Breathing Exercises – In order to manage your emotions well, you need to master a few breathing techniques. For instance, whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, blowing the bubble method of breathing can help. All you need to do is make yourself comfortable and take a deep and slow breath. Hold it in for a moment and then gradually let it out as if you are blowing bubbles. Don’t rush into it. Be gentle, slow, and have control over your breathing.
- Opt for Therapy – Despite self-management, there may come a time for some people where they realize they won’t be able to get rid of their emotional burden on their own. Remember, it is perfectly fine to seek help. Have a designated trustworthy person who can listen to you and give good advice. If you don’t have that option available, you can always find a good therapist who can assist you in dealing with your emotions allowing you to be more mindful.
- Make Rational Choices – As mentioned above, it is easy in these testing times to get overwhelmed by your emotions, it has become imperative to maintain your rationality, better judgment, and the ability to reason. Before you make any rash or impulsive decisions, ensure that you have taken every factor into account. If you have made a decision, sit on it for a few days and if it still makes sense, later on, feel free to run with it.
Expanding Your Mindfulness
Becoming mindful is one thing, staying mindful is another. Once you have developed a strong grasp on mindfulness, you now need to ensure that you don’t drop the positive habits and behaviors that you have worked hard for. Some of the easiest techniques to stay mindful include:
- Exercising Compassion and Kindness – Don’t be too hard on yourself and let your mindfulness expand to others through compassion and kindness. Help people out with their problems and be mindful of how they may feel in certain situations. Empathize and make sure that you aren’t being selfish or self-centered.
- Demonstrate and Express Gratitude – One of the best ways to ensure that you stay mindful is to be thankful about what you have instead of ruing over what you don’t. Let gratitude dwell in your heart and be thankful for every meal and luxury you have. Similarly, if someone does a favor for you, acknowledge their kindness, and do not hesitate from expressing it.
- Create an Overall Mindful Environment – Using your own mindfulness as a foundation, you can establish a mindful environment around yourself which will allow you to be aware of yourself and others, feel everything that surrounds you, connect with yourself, and ensure that you stay in that positive frame of mind.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we live, work, and communicate with each other. It has given birth to a paradigm shift where we are struggling to draw boundaries and focus on what actually matters. Not only has this pandemic blurred the line between personal and professional lives, but it has also made us more skeptical, paranoid, and somewhat emotionally confused.
This is why the importance of mindfulness, in every respect of our life, has never been greater. We don’t only need to focus on ourselves, we have to be aware of everything we see, listen, do, and feel so we are in a better position to draw those boundaries by concentrating and focusing on our priorities. Habits, exercises, and attitudes discussed in this article will go a long way in terms of turning you into a more mindful and aware individual who knows how to live in this post-COVID-19 world.
Allen Wei the editor in chief at LearnRelaxationTechniques.com. He is someone who believes in living his best life, focusing on balance, happiness, and relaxation. He fosters a positive lifestyle in terms of his body, mind, and environment, and he is a huge proponent of learning to be balanced via relaxation techniques integrated into our busy lives.