How to cope and relieve stress while working and living at home during these unprecedented times.
As Americans, we have been battered by devastating and stress-inducing news day after day after day for months.
Our endurance and experience with the rippling effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the video-viral deaths of black Americans at the hands of police is unprecedented. With peaceful protests devolving into violent riots across the nation live on TV as I write this, it seems like we are in a perpetual state of fear, confusion, division and uncertainty.
There are hundreds, thousands and probably millions, of online voices reporting and commenting on the above-mentioned events. I don’t think you need another person telling you what’s going on and feeding the unhealthy stress and anxiety that is building up. Instead, I want to help grow your optimism, your mental health and reduce the amount of stress you’re dealing with by talking about mindfulness meditation.
Whoever you are, whatever your political and ideological beliefs are and whether or not you are currently exercising your constitutional right to peacefully protest, mindfulness meditation can be a useful tool for you right now.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
According to Headspace, the leading meditation application with over 660,000 reviews and number nine overall in the Health and Fitness category on the Apple App Store, meditation is a mental training in awareness and perspective. It is not about turning your thoughts or feelings off, it is about learning to observe them without judgement. Through practice, one will gain an understanding of them.
It’s important to reiterate this point: Meditation is not about turning your thoughts or feelings off.
Many people will cite that meditation is hard, and they can’t do it for that reason. But that is not the goal of the practice.
I argue that meditation is one of the easiest and most natural things you can do as a human being. All you need is yourself and your breath. You don’t need a fancy room, a studio, or expensive apparel. You don’t need Headspace or any other application. All you need is yourself and your breath.
Here are the basics:
- Find a quiet space (indoors or outdoors)
- Sit or lay down in a comfortable position
- Gently close your eyes
- Begin to focus your attention on your breath
- In through your nose, out through your mouth (or nose)
- On every slow and deep inhale think “in”
- On every slow and deep exhale think “out”
- Repeat for several minutes or longer
- Whenever you find your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your breath
- Gently open your eyes and check in on how you feel
This simple and effective practice can fundamentally change the way you feel and ultimately help you alleviate daily stress.
Author-Approved Online Resources:
Mobile meditation applications are great tools. Unfortunately, many of them are subscription-based, but offer free trials. You can subscribe for usually a one-week free trial and takeaway some of the meditation techniques with you. I have used these three applications and their free trials:
Youtube is also a great free resource for meditation music and guided meditations of all varieties.
Instagram also offers profiles that share tips and meditation motivation! Search or click #meditate or #meditation to find profiles you might like to follow.
Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers’s findings from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD suggest that meditation can reduce psychological stresses such as anxiety and depression. These researchers analyzed and evaluated 18,753 citations and included 47 trials in their findings that address problems in previous-studies and met their criteria of a well-designed study.
I have personal experience and education in meditation. I was certified as a yoga teacher through an affiliate of the Yoga Alliance in San Diego three years ago. I use meditation as a way to calm my mind and my body which almost always results in a more relaxed, level-headed and focused me.
We will dive deeper into meditation down the road. For now, I hope this helps!