#SWAAYthenarrative
Lifestyle

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.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.