With stay-at-home orders, cancelled plans, and closed schools due to COVID-19, the world can feel very small. Many of us are lucky enough to be in good health with a roof over our heads but staying inside all day can feel smothering. All the things that once felt like a treat—laying on the couch watching movies, wearing pajamas all day, and skipping the office—have become weights pulling us into anxiety and fear.
If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. And if you ping pong between moods—upbeat one moment only to be upset the next—know this is a normal reaction to a far from normal situation.
While our world may feel small, each moment is rich in experiences—something we often miss in the hustle and bustle of our usual lives. How often have we rushed to work, hurried through dinner, or tuned out while chatting with a friend because we were multitasking or more concerned with the next thing on our to-do list? Before the pandemic, the status quo was remaining plugged in and always available—especially in competitive corporate environments.
Now, amid our uncertain situation, we have a moment to take a breath.
Mindfulness is the practice of being in the moment and focusing on your current experience. Right now, it is a powerful way to see all the things you do—even the small things—in a new, deeper way.
Take, for example, your morning cup of coffee or tea. If you don’t have one in your hand now, picture it. Feel the warmth on the ceramic. Watch the steam rise from the top of the liquid and study the way the cream curls around the surface. Smell the wonderful brew. Take a sip and taste the layers of flavor.
Or, you could use the tree outside your window as an example. Close your computer and put down your phone and look at the tree. Really look at it. Watch the way it moves in the breeze. Consider how its color compares to the sky. And what color is it anyway? It’s not quite brown but a mix of yellow and green and orange.
Mindfulness can also be applied to your own emotions. When you experience a strong reaction to our current situation, take a breath and try to be curious. Think to yourself, “Hello, emotion. I see you are with me today.” Don’t try to shut off the feeling—name it and observe it. Try to check in with yourself even if you aren’t feeling off center. Make it a habit to take a beat during conference calls [MR1] or to take a breath during chores and consider how you are feeling in that moment.
Try this practice on things you experience every day, whether it’s feeling the computer keys on your fingers or studying the flowers on a walk. You can even do this exercise with a partner or child, picking something to appreciate together and discussing your observations.
If you’re feeling resistant, that’s alright. Ease into the mindfulness of the seemingly mundane at your own pace, a few minutes at a time every other day.
How are you remaining mindful during this uncertain time? Let us know in the comments below.