There’s no doubt that we’re all feeling some degree of heightened stress during this uncertain time. The Coronavirus is more than a pandemic, it’s a wake-up call, an alert to take a moment, consider our lifestyles and reflect on our personal lives. The current lockdown is a good reminder of the things we take for granted, the things that are the most valuable; family, friends, and our own health and wellbeing.

Although anxiety and stress is understandable if we give in to the panic we face making bad decisions  and losing focus on what’s important – putting our relationships, be that personal or business, at risk. That’s why it’s so important to face any crisis, no matter how big or small, mindfully and with composure.

Isolating during the outbreak should make it easier for us to be mindful, to slow down and connect with ourselves and our wellbeing . I appreciate this might be easier said than done when we have jobs to protect, the kids are bored and irritable and we’re worrying about the loved ones we haven’t seen in weeks, but empowering yourself with a more clear and composed headspace doesn’t need to take a lot of time or effort.

Here are a few ideas for centralising your energy.

Breathing exercises whilst washing your hands.

Think about something as simple as having to wash our hands. On the one hand, having to take regular trips to the bathroom faucet to clean ourselves of germs is annoying and a disruption. But what if we switch our mindset and rather than begrudge the exercise we instead take it as an opportunity for self-connection and reflection?

As we focus on keeping germs at bay its recommended we wash our hands for twenty seconds. In this time we can’t check our phones, multitask, or be active, so why not use the time to try this 20-second breathing exercise and take advantage of being forced to stop.

Take a breath in through the nose for 5 seconds in and let it out through pursed lips for another 5, then repeat. In that time think about something that gives you a deep sense of joy: a warm bath, the sun on your skin, country walks. Imagine and feel the sensation of that delightful thing, notice how it changes you, mellows you, slows you down a bit.

It doesn’t have to be a deep and profound change – just a small reminder of the calm.

Explore Escapism

Sometimes, when things seem overwhelming you need an escape and to find a place, or mental state, where you can switch off from overbearing thoughts. If meditation isn’t your thing, an equally effective way to clear your mind is to distract it and shift your awareness toward something completely different.

Everyone’s escape is probably a little bit different, it could be watching a film, doing some exercise, playing a game, listening to music or a podcast, maybe reading a book… but the key is to really engage and immerse yourself in a world that isn’t your own.

Escapism is a vital way of relieving stress and finding peace, but remember to choose your environment wisely; avoid interruption, and tune into something uplifting and mood-enhancing.

Check out this list of mood-boosting entertainment;

collider.com/best-feel-good-movies/
happiful.com/mood-boosting-books/
www.countryandtownhouse.co.uk/culture/feel-good-podcasts/

Get Some Headspace

I’m a big fan of the Headspace programme; a guided meditation and resources platform led by Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. With a lot of unknowns in the world right now, most of us are feeling anxious, restless, or isolated.

To help support you through this challenging time the Headspace team are offering a new collection of meditation, sleep, and movement exercises in their app (download from Google Play or the Apple Store). The ‘Weathering the Storm’ programme which is made up of 7 simple app-based exercises, is aimed at the workplace and is sure to guide users through the COVID-19 crisis.

Other useful tools from Headspace include;

Try this stress relief mini-meditation before downloading the app
View Headspace’s tips to 30 Days of Mindfulness
Check out this essential Working (and parenting) from home guide
Subscribe to the Headspace YouTube channel for more tools and advice

If you are really struggling with clarity of mind and increasing anxiety, speak to the experts or contact your GP. Here are a few links which might help;

Mindfulness can help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. You can take steps to develop it in your own life using these tools from the NHS;
www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/

Mental Health Charity, Mind provides resources and information on mindfulness, how to practice it and how it can help with mental health problems. www.mind.org.uk/media-a/2891/mindfulness-2018.pdf

If you do need someone to talk to the Samaritans listen – they won’t judge or tell you what to do.

Call them any time, day or night on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan