How to Cope with Changes Brought by COVID-19
Humans are naturally resistant to change. It’s a survival instinct, seared too deeply into our minds to ignore. For millennia, consistency was what kept us safe. Eat only those berries, the others are poisonous; avoid that stretch of grass, snakes nest there. The little routines our ancestors needed for survival defined the ways our brains function to this day.
As a result, a change in our routine scares us on an instinctual level. That’s part of why so many people — even those without prior mental health conditions — are experiencing extreme anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fear of getting sick or infecting others is our logical response to the virus. It’s the primal fear of the unknown, however, that creeps beneath the surface, touching every moment of our lives.
It’s important to have coping tools in the face of massive worldwide upheaval. Activities like meditation, mindfulness and yoga can keep you grounded, as can a cleaner home. Meditation Farm offers a few ways you can keep yourself sane and steady in the midst of it all:
One of the simplest and most powerful tools at your disposal for combatting anxiety is a daily mindfulness practice. As little as ten minutes of mindfulness a day makes a huge difference in how easy it is to cope with difficult emotions. The reason for this is simple; often, our anxiety stems from thinking about the past, the future, or things that are happening far from where we are.
Taking a 10-minute break to notice the way the light hits your curtains or the sound of cars outside grounds you in the current moment and reminds you you’re safe. You can be mindful at any time — it’s not just meditation — and you will notice a difference when you start. If you want to add on to this practice for a whole-body experience, try incorporating a daily yoga practice.
The breathwork and movement of yoga coupled with the benefits of mindfulness and meditation can help eliminate feelings of anxiety. The beauty of these practices is how they can serve you now and beyond the pandemic.
Address the Atmosphere
When we’re smushed together inside our homes as long as we have been, tension among the household is surely flaring. With nowhere to really go and not much to do in the coming winter months, take stock of what needs to change so everyone has a little more breathing room, and to lighten the mood. Find ways to clean and organize your home to remove clutter and any negative energy. Open the blinds every day to let in plenty of sunlight, and encourage your family to come up with ways to spend quality time alone and together.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
Our world is in a state of collective grief, both for the loss of life and the loss of normalcy. Even things we might want to dismiss, such as a favorite cafe temporarily shutting down or a bad quarantine haircut, can be legitimate sources of pain. Forcing yourself to push this grief away is only going to compound your misery; ignoring difficult emotions does not get rid of them.
Instead, give yourself permission to feel the sadness of the moment. Do not push the feelings away or cling to them — simply feel their rise and fall. You can do this as the feelings arise, or you can even schedule a time to sit mindfully in those emotions. The important part is giving your mind an opportunity to process the grief it’s experiencing.
Fight the anxiety COVID-19 is causing by accumulating positive experiences. This can be something as involved as adopting a pet from a struggling shelter or as simple as starting a meditation routine. The important part isn’t the grandness of the experience, it’s the decision to make it happen. By creating positive moments for ourselves, we train our brains to find opportunities for happiness. The ability to seek light is more important now than ever.
This is a time of turmoil, but it’s also a time of opportunity. The world is changing. Figure out how you can change with it, for the better.
If the weight of the world continues to consume your thoughts, meditation can be a powerful tool to help you find clarity and perspective. If you’re new to meditation, online programs like those offered by Meditation Farm can help your mind find stillness and inner peace.
Submitted by guest author: Sheila Johnson