How Coronavirus is teaching us the importance of mindfulness

 DSKY asked our gorgeous Amni Hidayah from YogAmni (@yogAmni) to talk about how COVID-19 has affected us generally and why it's important to go back basic and practice mindfulness.

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How Coronavirus is teaching us the importance of mindfulness

 

Focusing on things that you can’t control will lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression. We all know that stress can kill your brain cells and reduce the size of your brain. It gets worse. Chronic stress increases your risk of mental illness. Chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex – that is the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. The list goes on. Enter mindfulness.

 

What is mindfulness, really? Put it simply, it’s all about being in the moment, free from any distractions or judgements. Your mind is not in the past or the future, it is right here, right now. It’s really that simple, but it’s also easier said than done. How can one be mindful when one is drowning is obsessive thoughts and worry?

 

So how can you try to be more mindful?

 

 

1. Stop trying to do it all at once

 

We know we’re capable of multitasking. Have you noticed you’re doing a lot more of it during the lockdown? All of a sudden, there is so much to do. Emails need to be sent out, tasks need to be delegated to teammates, what to prepare for lunch today, the cat litter needs to be changed, the laundry needs to be hung, and great, my floor is sticky, that needs to be mopped too, but wait, have I clicked send on that urgent email that needed to go out yesterday? That’s just barely today’s list. Before you know it, your mind is making a mental list of things to do for Friday and its only Monday. Sounds familiar?

 

Believe it or not, you can afford to just stop and reevaluate your situation. The ‘list’ will always be there. It will get longer, but ask yourself this - how long can you keep this up?

 

If you find yourself worrying too much about the future, you are no longer present in the moment. Perhaps your partner or your child just told you how much they love you, but you were not mindful to even hear or catch a glimpse of it. You were not present. There’s no replay button in life, is there? Think back on all those moments that you have missed out because you were not mindful.

 

Now that the realization has hit, take a short pause. You can afford to. Your world will not crumble just because you hit the pause button.

 

 

2. Reconnect to your breath

 

Do you notice how when you’re stressed or anxious, your brain acts on survival mode and disregards everything else? Amidst all the chaos, our breath is the last thing we pay attention to.

 

Stop everything that you’re doing for a moment. Close your eyes. Take one long, deep breath. Inhale through the nose, and exhale the same way. Notice how your body is feeling. Where the breath goes, the mind follows. Vice versa. Where the mind goes, the breath follows. Now, place your left hand at your heart and your right hand on your belly. Notice how your belly and chest moves as you inhale and exhale. Go ahead, take a couple more breaths and keep lengthening your breath. Be mindful of your own breath.

 

Notice that as you start to relax, your body becomes less tense and hey, your breathing is no longer shallow or distorted. How are you feeling now?

 

 

3. Set a time for mindfulness practice

 

Research has shown that your morning activities will set the tone for one day. You could meditate, or just sit still and do some breathing exercises. You could do some morning exercises. You could stare out of the window whilst holding your coffee or juice, or you could be taking a brief walk around the house. You could be doing your own exercises. Just take ten minutes to be mindful before you start the day. If you can never find the time (and I get this a lot) because you have kids, stop making excuses! Set the alarm 10 minutes earlier; surely your body deserves to have 10 minutes for your own wellbeing?

 

 

Moving Forward

 

Mindfulness is not an exotic or esoteric concept. Anybody can be mindful. Stop making excuses for yourself, stop procrastinating and just be mindful. Your body and your mind will thank you for it.

 

If you found this article helpful, or if you would like to read more on this, you can contact Amni at amni@yogamni.com

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