Mindfulness in the Age of a Pandemic



As humans, we are programmed to find solutions to problems. If your car breaks down on the highway, you get a tow truck and take it to get fixed. If you break a bone, you go to the doctor and get a cast. But what happens when there is a problem that isn’t or doesn’t feel fixable? What happens when the solution is not within reach, and you don’t know when the solution will come? As we currently trudge through this pandemic, we find ourselves hoping for answers and solutions, spend time thinking about what will happen if we become sick, and it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of worry. Unfortunately, the more we search, think about, worry, and wish for change, the more our anxiety and stress will increase.

During a time when so much feels unpredictable and out of control, mindfulness can teach us an important lesson: how to be in the present moment with what is, without being consuming by it. Rather than getting caught up in thoughts, worries and worst-case scenarios, mindfulness asks us “What is happening in my mind and body right now?”. This moment of pause and turning inward helps us to acknowledge the feelings we are having and provides the opportunity to respond to them more appropriately.

An Easy Mindfulness Skill We Can All Use


Mindfulness is something we can all cultivate. One simple way is to take some time each day to check in with yourself. There is a simple acronym that can help guide anyone through this process.

S.T.O.P.


S = Stop

Stop and put down anything you are doing in the moment (put your phone down and away where you won’t get distracted)

T = Take

Take a few deep breaths.

O = Observe

Observe what thoughts, feelings, sensations in the body are tugging at your attention.

P = Proceed

Proceed with something that supports and nurtures you. Perhaps another mindfulness practice, something to eat or drink, or calling a friend.



We can all benefit from a moment to pause and pay attention to what we are experiencing in the moment, especially now. It is so easy to get pulled into the web of thoughts that we often forget our thoughts are not facts. Worrying also does not make the difficult situations any more bearable. Slowing down in this simple way allows us to understand and respond to our struggles, worries and stress in a way that leaves us feeling much better than if we didn't.

 

If you are finding it hard to manage your stress and anxiety, or would like to learn more about how to implement mindfulness-based strategies, help is here! Please call 630-716-9797 or email kristy@verbenacounseling.com.


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