Updated: Jun 22, 2020
We all have things that pull our minds in several directions--family, work, social life, relationships, finances, and Covid-19. This can become overwhelming, as thoughts about these things clutter our mind space. Allowing the time and energy to quiet the mind and be more present will consequently enable you to be more happy, more at peace, and more loving, with more energy available for all of these areas of life.
We’re experiencing a lot of uncertainty right now, and uncertainty can lead to anxiety and panic which can in turn lead to poor decision-making and ultimately to negative consequences. If you can bring mindfulness into play, you can pivot. Instead of mindlessly reacting to the uncertainty, you can respond in a calm and carefully-considered way.
Let’s start by talking about the news. Recognize that news outlets are driven, not by a need to inform the public, but by a need to generate revenue. It is in their best interests to sensationalize and spread fear, because this leads people to consume more news and the outlets consequently sell more advertising.
Be mindful when choosing a news outlet. Look for sources that present fact-based information instead of opinions. Look for sources that report calmly and avoid hype and inflated language.
Perhaps, when it comes to COVID-19 news, seek news from government agencies. The Mindful15 audience is global, and I can’t list official sources from all countries, but three helpful sources available online are Health Canada, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.
Also, be careful how you consume the news. There’s no need to check the news constantly. Checking too often puts you in a state of heightened alert and generates a stress response. It encourages the kind of constant rumination that is the hallmark of anxiety. It’s not healthy, and with regard to coronavirus news, it’s not likely that you’re missing key information you check only once or twice per day.
Speaking of the news, let’s mindfully consider what the officials are telling us right now. If you base your response on facts, you’ll realize there’s no cause for panic. On March 1, the Lancet reported the virus’s estimated mortality rate at 3.6%. Many who contract the virus suffer only minor symptoms and not everyone will contract the virus. Furthermore, the people at highest risk are those with lung disease or compromised immune systems. If you don’t fall into this category, your personal risk is even lower.
If you or someone you spend time with does fall into this category, extra precaution is warranted. I am not a valid source of information about precautions, though. Please see official sources for the best advice. Again, opt for calm and careful adherence to guidelines instead of panic that does nothing to improve the situation.
Speaking of precautions, even those at low risk need adhere to the official advice. Yes, you may find it weird to wash your hands for a full 20 seconds or to cough into your elbow, for example, but these actions are the best protections. It doesn’t hurt you to perform them, so why would you not comply? A mindful person takes these precautions, not just to protect themselves, but to protect other people, too. Please practice compassion. Even if you feel well, you can spread harmful germs to other people. If you care about others, do what you can to actively take care of them.
And, we should also chat about preparedness. Authorities are recommending that you have food and toiletries on hand to sustain you in the event you’re asked to self-quarantine. In fact, authorities suggest you always have such supplies on hand in case of a variety of emergencies including natural disasters. Being prepared is a mindful activity – and again, I refer you to official sources of information for the best advice on how to prepare.
There is, however, a fine line between being prepared and hoarding. Stockpiling is not a mindful response. When you take more than you need, you deprive others of getting what they need. There’s a distinct lack of compassion in such actions. Please follow the authorities’ recommendations for being prepared. Please don’t hoard. When you do, you are making the situation worse for other people. There’s no compassion in such actions.
Now, there’s one last thing to discuss, I think. That’s how to deal with any anxiety you may be experiencing because of the uncertainty of this situation. First of all, please practice self care. Be sure to get sufficient sleep, to eat well, and to continue to exercise regularly. Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness just posted an article on how to stay in shape without leaving home.
Regular meditation, deep relaxation, and stress-busting breathing techniques are also effective ways to actively manage your stress response.
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