With all of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are looking for ways to handle stress, stay focused and clear our minds a little. Between the constant stream of negative news, uncertainty and anxiety, it’s no wonder that our emotions are running the gamut right now. If you feel like you’re struggling to cope with it all, it may be the perfect time to learn a useful new skill: mindfulness.
You may have heard the term “mindfulness” thrown around, but what exactly is it and how can it help during times of crisis? Psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” In short, to be mindful is to be purposeful about where you direct your attention. Instead of letting your thoughts run wild, you take a step back and become intentional about where you put your focus.
Mindfulness may sound simple, but it takes some getting used to if you’re new to the idea. As you practice moments of mindfulness on a regular basis, you will notice they come more naturally and easily to you. You’ll find it easier to take a few deep breaths and respond in a more patient and thoughtful way to a challenging person or situation. You’ll begin to slow down during particularly challenging parts of your day and not react to a problem hastily. You’ll be better able to focus. Best of all, you’ll become more aware of your thoughts in order to deal with the various stressors in your life.
So, how do you get started? Take a look at our next article on the basics of a mindfulness practice.