We are in an historic time for our nation and the world. For the first time ever, we are practicing social distancing in an effort to halt the spread of a virus that has the potential to cause harm to the most vulnerable among us. The decision to participate in this should not be done from a place of fear or panic, but rather from a place of generosity and compassion. The truth, as I understand it, is that the Covid-19 virus is not fatal to the majority of us, yet we are all at risk. Since we cannot be sure who among us has been exposed to the virus and who has not, we, as a society, have chosen to separate ourselves out of an abundance of caution.
Yes, we are inconvenienced. Yes, we are being pulled out of the safety of our routines and the comfort of what is familiar. Yes, events and activities that we were looking forward to have been postponed. And, yes, given the information that is being circulated, we feel scared. All that is valid, needs to be acknowledged, expressed and worked through. Mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness means simply being present. Staying focused on the here and now and returning our attention to the present when our minds wander. We do not know how long we will need to practice social distance. We do not know how long we will need to stay-at-home. Following our thoughts into the future creates anxiety and stress now. Instead, practice mindfulness and turn your attention to this moment. What is true for you now? You have food. You have shelter. You have the ability to connect with people via social media. You have Netflix.
By approaching your life with mindfulness, you can foster a change of perspective. Instead of being upset or frightened by using your laptop, iPhone or iPad to interact, be grateful that they exist. What would we do if we couldn’t see or talk to each other in this way? Our social distancing would be much harder and lonelier.
Instead of being frustrated when internet connections fail, seize upon those moments to practice ingenuity, adaptability and creativity. See these moments as opportunities to build better coping skills. And, when you do, recognize yourself for your efforts.
Now is a time for you to see how resilient you really are. How capable you are to “go with the flow,” “weather the storm,” or surrender to things that are truly out of your control. It is possible to come out of this time a stronger, emotionally healthier and more confident person.
Take some time to think about how you might use our mandated social distancing for your benefit. What might you like to see happen for yourself as a result of this experience? Maybe you want to set some goals, learn a new language or connect with long-lost friends via social media? Maybe you want to use this time to journal, do some self-reflection or practice meditation? Or, maybe you just want to catch up on Hulu?!
Mindfulness also teaches us that everything changes. Nothing is permanent. So, however, you choose to spend this time, please know that it, like everything else, is temporary. We will not be apart forever. There will be toilet paper on the shelves again!
Until we “meet” again, stay well and at least 6 feet away from everyone else!
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