Cope with Stress and Find Calm With Meditation and Mindfulness
Many of us with children are living with unanswered questions due to the COVID-19 pandemic: Will schools reopen? Do I feel safe sending my child back to school? Should we do online learning? How will I work and teach my child? Do I have job security?
All of these unanswered questions can leave a person feeling drained and exhausted. I know that having two young school-age children and trying to navigate this new normal with them has been extremely stressful. So what can we do to help stay calm and be the stability our family needs in light of all this uncertainty?
Trying It Is Free
One technique that can be beneficial for helping deal with stress is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment, and accepting it without judgment.
It can include breathing exercises, meditation, or just simply being present in the moment. Practicing mindfulness can be a good way to cope with anxiety or stress that you may be experiencing. The great thing about practicing mindfulness is you can find techniques that take only a couple minutes, which can be a great way to ground yourself in those high-anxiety moments. There's no obligation -- or cost -- to giving it a try.
Benefits of Mindfulness
You may experience these benefits when you practice mindfulness:
- Improved mental health. Has been shown to help with anxiety, depression, substance abuse and job burnout.
- Improved immune system
- Help for pain management
- Improved sleep
- Improved relationships with others
- Help for dealing with adverse events
Mindfulness techniques often focus on breathing or concentrating on certain objects. Learning how to utilize mindfulness techniques in your daily life can help you be more present in the moment.
Now more than ever we want to be able to cope with events happening around us and create a calm environment in our homes. Practicing mindfulness in our daily lives can help us be more mentally able to deal with stressors and anxiety.
There are many videos on mindfulness techniques that provide different breathing exercises or movement exercises. Finding a technique that works for you is a great place begin. One technique that works well is this:
- Breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds
- Make sure your breath fills your abdomen
- Release the breath out through your mouth for 5 seconds
- Focus on your breathing and counting
- If your mind begins to wander bring it back to your breathing
Mindfulness in today’s world can be a great tool to help deal with your emotions. These little moments of awareness can help create a sense of calm for your entire day.
By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center