How Mindfulness Can Help Protect You from the Coronavirus
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” ~ Maya Angelou
The recent coronavirus outbreak has everyone on edge. Many of us and our loved ones are at high risk of getting seriously ill. And our efforts to slow the spread of the virus have completely disrupted our lives.
Our economy is taking a hit, and many people are losing their jobs. As health officials scramble to develop a vaccine and treatment, our future remains uncertain. There is a lot to be nervous about.
For those who have never experienced any sort of widespread emergency or catastrophe, this pandemic can be especially hard to deal with. The good news is that we are a pretty resilient species. As humans, we have the capability of dealing with great adversity, and to even come out stronger on the other side.
One thing that can help us deal with the current crisis is mindfulness. With mindfulness, we can lower our risk of getting ill, and improve our ability to handle the situation both mentally and emotionally. Lets look at how we can do this.
Mindfulness Meditation Calms Your Fears and Anxieties
One of the primary ways that mindfulness meditation can help you get through the coronavirus crisis is by calming your fears and anxieties. You see, all of our emotions are triggered by our thoughts, whether conscious or unconscious. Mindfulness meditation will calm your thoughts, so you experience fewer stressful emotions.
“Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.”
Another way mindfulness meditation eases your stress and anxiety is by helping you think more clearly, and this will lead to better decisions. Your actions will no longer be determined by your fears. They will be more carefully considered. And during this crisis, your decisions will impact the lives of yourself, your loved ones, and others.
Mindfulness of Your Environment
Mindfulness meditation will also help you gain greater awareness of your environment and greater perspective of your situation. As you develop a more calm and clear mind through mindfulness meditation, you will naturally be more aware of your environment and the associated risks.
You will be more inclined to follow the recommendations from health officials, and lower your risk of contracting the virus. For example, you will have a better idea of when it’s safe to go out in public and where. Then when you return home, you will more carefully consider how to disinfect yourself and your clothes, so you don’t potentially pass on the virus to household members who are at higher risk.
Mindfulness of Your Health
Mindfulness meditation can help you significantly with regards to your health. It can help you in two ways: 1) by helping you develop greater awareness of your body and mind, and 2) by actually improving your health and resistance to the virus. Let’s examine these a little further.
As you develop mindfulness through meditation, you will become more aware of what is happening in your body. Not only that, but you will also be able to determine what triggered certain reactions in your body.
For example, if your stomach feels upset after eating, you will be more able to determine exactly what food or ingredient caused the discomfort. Sometimes, the effects are not immediate. You may experience the effects the next day or even later. In some cases, the effects are cumulative, and experienced over the long term, such as poor health from lack of physical activity.
The second way that mindfulness meditation affects you is by actually improving your health. Numerous studies have shown that even modest amounts of meditation can significantly improve your health. The practice can lower your blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and reduce chronic illnesses.
Mindfulness can even help you lose weight by making you more aware of what you eat, and how much. It will also give you the inner strength to follow a healthier diet, and stay more physically active. And you will also learn to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
With regards to the threat of the coronavirus, mindfulness meditation strengthens your immune system, which makes you more resilient to the virus. That is, if you contract the virus, you’ll be better able to fight it off, and lower your chances of becoming seriously ill.
Mindfulness of Others
As you develop mindfulness though meditation, your sense of separate self will dissipate. You will begin to see your connection with the rest of the world, and realize that we both affect and depend on each other for our survival. In other words, your ego will begin to dissipate, and you will take into greater consideration the needs of others.
“Today you could be standing next to someone who is trying their best to not fall apart. So whatever you do today, do it with kindness in your heart.”
To give you an example: Though you may be at low risk of getting seriously ill from the virus, you can pass it on to someone who is at much higher risk. This is why it’s so important to follow the recommendations from health officials.
The other thing that happens as you become more mindful is that you develop greater compassion for others. With this compassion, you will become more willing to help those in need. Remember, not everybody is easily able to adapt to the changes required to stay healthy.
Elderly people can’t go to the grocery store without putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus. They are in much greater danger of getting seriously ill. You can lower their risk by lowering yours. Or if you engage in risky behavior, stay away from elderly people until we find another way to protect them, such as vaccines or remedies.
Dealing with the Disruption in Your Life
In order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, we have been asked by health officials to significantly restrict our normal activities. They are telling us that the best way to stop the spread of the virus is to just stay at home. This is a tremendous disruption to our lives, and hard for many of us to adhere to.
We are so used living active lives that having to stay home all the time is equivalent to house arrest. Some of the challenges include:
- Keeping our mind occupied
- Being around our family or housemates 24 hrs/day
- Preparing all our meals
- Reduced physical activities
“By staying apart we may actually come closer together.”
So, what can we do when we’re stuck at home? Think about all the things that you’ve wanted to do before but couldn’t because you didn’t have the time. Well, now you do have the time. You can:
- Catch up on your reading
- Cook or bake some of your favorite dishes
- Straighten out the cluttered storage room
- Do your spring cleaning
- Spend some quality time with your partner and/or kids
- Have a picnic, or go for a walk
Call your family or friends. They may need someone to talk to. This may be your chance to reconnect with them. Who knows, by staying apart we may actually come closer together.
With mindfulness, you’ll see that the possibilities are endless. Staying at home, or limited social contact, doesn’t have to be a prison sentence. View it as a vacation, and take advantage of the opportunity to relax, and learn to enjoy your life without having to be out in public.
How Do I Learn Mindfulness?
Mindfulness meditation is the practice we use to help us develop mindfulness. As we discussed above, mindfulness meditation helps calm your mind and emotions, so you can expand your awareness.
If you’re not familiar with mindfulness meditation, don’t worry. The practice is easy to learn. Due to the social distancing recommendation from health officials, it may not be feasible to take a class with other people. So, what can you do? How about taking an online course? Also, Amazon.com is still selling books and CDs.
Now is the perfect time to learn how to meditate. You have the spare time, and the practice will help you make the most of these challenging times.
As I look back at my own life, I realize that I’ve survived several major upheavals, including earthquakes, hurricanes, and political and social unrest. I consider myself fortunate to be alive.
So far, the coronavirus has not affected me personally. With the help of mindfulness, I have been able to reduce the risk to me and my partner, Mary, to almost zero. We are experiencing some inconveniences, but for the most part, we are making the most of a difficult situation.
“After all this is over, what really will have mattered is how we treated each other.”
In time, the coronavirus pandemic will play itself out, and eventually your life will return to normal. Until then, with mindfulness you can keep yourself and loved ones safe. Not only that, but you will also grow from the experience, and be better prepared for the next major emergency.
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