If you're feeling stressed by the current global crisis, you're not alone.
After all, our sense of normalcy has been upended almost overnight. Health worries, economic fears, "social distancing," and uncertainty about the future have created in many of us a sense of deep unease. Add to that a 24/7 news cycle focused almost exclusively on the latest information (or misinformation) about the crisis, and it can start to seem like everything is spinning out of control.
It's precisely at moments like this that the practice of mindfulness can help, by changing our perspective and providing some much-needed peace of mind. Here are five mindful ways to tame your anxiety and nurture your overall well-being.
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings With Gentleness And Compassion
It's perfectly normal to be worried in the face of uncertainty, danger, and loss. But that doesn't mean that we have to let our feelings control us. Ironically, the better we get at recognizing our feelings, the less power they tend to have over us. We can remind ourselves, "This is what I'm feeling right now, and it's really hard. But it will pass."
2. "Social Distancing" Shouldn't Mean Emotional Distancing
We humans need each other, a truth that's embodied in the mindfulness principle that all beings are interconnected. Instead of isolating, now is the time to reach out to friends and family and let them know how much you care about them. Even if you can't be physically close, a text, call, or video chat can strengthen the important emotional bonds that support and sustain us.
3. Connect With Nature
If there's a silver lining to the current crisis, it's the fact that it's unfolding during springtime. What a wonderful excuse to turn off the news, disconnect from your devices, and be mindful of nature's beauty. Take a walk or run, or simply sit and observe the returning birds, emerging crocuses, and budding blooms. Pause for a moment to actually feel the sun on your face and the warmth in the air. There's something deeply comforting about earth's cycle of decline and rebirth, a measure of certainty that's especially profound in uncertain times.
4. Be Kind
Stress can bring out the worst in all of us. It can make us impatient and judgmental and trigger the very human instinct to think only of ourselves. But if we can be mindful of the fact that everyone around us is struggling – some with much greater worries than our own – we can extend the kindness and generosity that make things a little bit easier for us all.
5. Remember To Breathe
With all of today's stress and uncertainty, it's more important than ever to center ourselves in the present moment. The mindfulness practice of focusing on the breath can help us do just that. Even a few conscious, gentle breaths can slow racing thoughts and provide a moment of clarity and calm. And by bringing our awareness to the present, we can set worry aside and take time to appreciate all that we have to be grateful for in the here and now.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist