can help us through COVID-19
by Karla Atanacio
Right now the world is experiencing a “global grief” because of the coronavirus pandemic. Our lives, health, relationships, jobs, and the economy has suffered tremendously because of this virus. The scenes we are witnessing around the world are distressing, and unfortunately are here to stay for the foreseeable future. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. Maybe practicing mindfulness can give us a little light at the end of the tunnel.
The word mindfulness has been getting a lot of attention lately. Perhaps it is the result of studies showing the many health benefits that come from this exercise. In addition, mindfulness exercises can easily be done in the comfort of your own home at no cost or supplies!
Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness does not involve sitting in a lotus position for hours. (But you can still try it!) It is a state of mind that enables you to sharpen your focus while being conscious of your surroundings during and after meditation.
Put it simply, mindfulness is simply being “in the moment.” It may sound simple but taking your mind off of distractions takes a lot of practice. This is especially prevalent in our society where everyone has some sort of obligation. This includes checking in with our loved ones, urgent e-mails, and worrying about other day-to-day responsibilities.
So why practice mindfulness, you say? Improved concentration and self-control are just a few of its many benefits. There is plenty of evidence that shows how it can improve every aspect of your life.
1. Reduce stress
Studies show that mindfulness meditation increases positive affect and decreases anxiety and negative affect. Patients with chronic diseases exhibited increased physical and mental well being after meditation.
2. Improve memory and academic performance
In research, teachers assigned students to do attention-building exercises. As a result, students had improved memory, focus, and better grades. Workers who practiced mindfulness also found that they became more engaged with their tasks.
3. Decrease “emotional reactivity”
Researchers have found that mindfulness meditation practice helped people to disengage from emotionally upsetting circumstances, therefore, allowing them to do their tasks effectively.
Unfortunately, mindfulness cannot be perfected overnight. It requires practice on a weekly or daily basis. Luckily, there are over 700 apps that can help you to be more mindful.
1. Headspace (Free) Emma Watson called this app “genius”. Headspace gives you comfort in your pocket. Change your life profoundly with the help of its easy and guided meditation, progress page, and Buddy System where you can add friends and motivate each other in your journey to mindfulness. Headspace will surely clear your mind of clutter.
2. Smiling Mind (Free) This app was developed by a team of psychologists specializing in Mindfulness Meditation, youth therapy, and wellness programs. Smiling Mind is an app that provides mindfulness programs according to the user’s age.
3. Calm (Free + Subscription option) Providing a wide variety of guided meditation, Calm will give you superb meditation techniques in the comfort of your own device.
There is no “correct way” to achieve mindfulness; you can do it while showering, walking the dog, or listening to audio materials. Your mission is to make time to be aware of your surroundings and take a mental break once in a while. Let yourself grow and prosper using these techniques.
Robins, C. J., Keng, S.-L., Ekblad, A. G., & Brantley, J. G. (2012). “Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on emotional experience and expression: A randomized controlled trial.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68(1), 117–131. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.20857
Bränström, R., Kvillemo, P., Brandberg, Y., & Moskowitz, J. T. (2010). “Self-report Mindfulness as a Mediator of Psychological Well-being in a Stress Reduction Intervention for Cancer Patients—A Randomized Study.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39(2), 151–161. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-010-9168-6
Karla Atanacio is currently in International Development Studies at the University of Winnipeg. At 13, she moved with her family to Canada to seek a better future. Karla enjoys being involved in the community and volunteers with different Filipino-Canadian heritage organizations. In her spare time, Karla enjoys fusion cuisine and listening to podcasts.
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