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How to keep lockdown stress at bay with mindfulness

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Now that most of us find ourselves at home to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, we might be experiencing a fair deal of anxiety.

You might work from home rather than from the office and worry if you’ll be losing your job. Maybe you’re self-employed and have helplessly watched promising assignments being cancelled overnight.

Or you might be at home with your children and anxiously wonder what the world is coming to.

No matter what your situation is: we’re all nervous and insecure since this is a situation we’ve never faced before. Moreover, we don’t know what the consequences will be in the long term.

But no matter how severe the situation might be at this moment, with mindfulness we can control how we feel, and help ourselves become clear minded and calm while making the best of these challenging weeks.

Mindfulness expert Marisa Garau explains how to do this, and shares her inspiring tips.

A total meltdown… or not?

When you’re facing a stressful situation, you always have two options to choose from:

  1. Work yourself into a panic and trigger a total emotional meltdown.
  2. Stay calm and keep an open mind.

Surely… it’s tempting to stress out and spend the nights worrying about the future.

  • Will we tumble into a massive economic crisis?
  • How long will it last?
  • Will we be able to continue enjoying our current lifestyle?
  • Or will we have to sell the house and accept going through tough changes to keep afloat?

If you’re being pestered by these nagging thoughts, you must notice that stressing out doesn’t help. It’s nothing but an old, tiring habit that won’t get you any positive results.

Worrying only exhausts you and will make you more vulnerable to emotional and physical disorders. With coronavirus looming around the corner, this is the last thing you want, right?

So how can mindfulness help you to keep sane and healthy?

Limit the influence of the media

You switch on the TV and every item is about the two C’s: Corona and Crisis. Scroll around on Facebook and Instagram, and you drown in all the advice to stay clear of the virus.

Open the newspaper and your mind is being flooded with articles about falling stock markets and severe economical consequences. Although news in times of crises is crucial to stay updated on the things you must and mustn’t do, most of the news updates are actually nothing but repeats of old news.

Thanks to breaking news you know exactly with how many cases New York is struggling, how many people have died in Italy, and in which cities thugs are looting the supermarkets.

But let’s be honest… how on earth is any of this information helpful to you?

It isn’t — period.

But despite the truth that all these facts are of no benefit to you nor your life, you’ll notice that your mind is happily keeping you awake at night to ruminate these juicy pieces of information and frighten you into sleeplessness.

So stop searching for the latest news updates, on TV, radio or online. In your life this alarming news is not going to make any difference at all.

Knowing what is happening in parts of the world where you’ve never even been, and might never be… doesn’t make your life a lot better, or a lot worse.

Understand that dishing up news is a commercial business and that it always has to be negative and sensational in order to attract attention and thus have optimal financial results for media conglomerates.

Also understand that endless amounts of negativity subconsciously have a huge impact on your mood and your self-confidence.

The less negativity you allow into your life, the better you’ll feel. And that won’t only benefit you, but your partner, children, pets and other family members as well.

So be strong and refrain from binge feeding on bad and unhealthy news.

Determine your circle of influence

Since this virus has such an enormous, world spanning impact, you might feel utterly powerless. You’re faced with an invisible enemy who could strike at any moment, help!

It’s important to not allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Keep your cool and decide what situations you are able to influence, and what situations you simply can’t influence.

You have no influence on disastrous events that are happening around the world.

You have no influence on the number of Corona cases.

You have no influence on the world economy and that the stock markets have fallen.

You have no influence on the behaviour of people in other parts of the country and how they might put each other at risk.

But you definitely have influence on your own behaviour.

You can get groceries for your elderly neighbours and help them stay safe.

You can limit your news intake so that you don’t slip into negativity or despair.

You can tidy up your home and make sure your family is comfortable.

You can choose to watch comedies on TV and have a good laugh.

You can consciously focus on positive stories and initiatives which nurture your soul.

Knowing what is part of your circle of influence (and what’s not) helps you to stop feeling powerless.

It will inspire you to come up with of all the good things you can do today in your world. This will make you feel useful and appreciated, and will lower your stress levels significantly.

Choose to do nothing… and be prepared to be surprised

Rather than searching the web to distract yourself, now is the time to consciously stop doing and practise mindfulness by simply being.

In the past decades we all have become so incredibly unfocussed, rushed and busy, that being stuck at home might actually be a great opportunity to detox from all this busyness.

Try to remember: when was the last time you didn’t do anything?

When was the last time you just sat still looking at the trees outside, listening to the wind, enjoying the birdsong in your garden, noticing your very own breath, and realising that you are the miracle of life manifesting itself?

In our culture we criticise non-doing as being lazy. But non-doing is actually a good and healthy way of silencing our inner chatterbox.

So in the coming weeks make good use of having to stay at home, without feeling guilty.

Stop stuffing your precious mind with panicky news updates and random Facebook discussions, but instead give your mind a break.

Allow your mind to wander freely and practise the noble art of pondering inspiring concepts that make your soul sing.

From now on, take time to stare out of the window, to just stretch out on the sofa, to just sit in a chair… without doing anything.

Behind the initial restlessness and guilt you’ll soon discover a formerly unknown realm of calm and creativity.

Your mind will open up to possibilities that you’d never before given the opportunity to enter your consciousness.

Don’t be surprised that, when this is all behind you, you might find yourself choosing a new path and bravely carving out a bright new life, all because you simply granted yourself time to slow down during lockdown.

A final thought

Did you know that the Chinese character for ‘crisis’ consists of two elements: ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’?

It is up to you which path you choose to walk.

Will you choose fear, panic and stress?

Or will you choose opportunity, have an honest look at your life, and contemplate if it could do with a bit of a renovation?

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented decisions, such as this lockdown.

Now is the time to make up the balance, harness your creativity and come up with unprecedented personal resolutions that will encourage you to follow your dreams and change your life for the better.

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More information:

Mindfulness expert Marisa Garau helps people reduce their stress and create a more fulfilling life with her meditation-free mindfulness approach. In her in-depth article How mindfulness helps to unlearn stress [ link: https://www.growingmindfulness.com/stress ] you’ll find more tips and practical advice to give your life the positive boost it deserves.

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