Coronavirus has made things weird, we know.
School’s on hold. The adults in your life are freaking out a little (or a lot). You don’t know when you’ll hang out with your friends again.
But here’s the good news: Even though we can’t change the things happening in the world right now, we do have power over how we react to them.
Something that may ease your feelings of anxiety, restlessness or boredom — besides trying to perfect that one dance on TikTok — is mindfulness, a practice that helps you find peace with what is happening right this second, simply by observing it without judgment.
Susan Kaiser Greenland, a mindfulness teacher and author who lives in Los Angeles, describes it as “paying attention with kindness.”
“We acknowledge scary stuff,” she said, “but then we want to expand the perspective of the goodness happening right now too.”
Here are a few easy ways you can try it.
Wash your hands, but make it mindful. You’ve heard it a million times: To fight the coronavirus, wash your hands as often as possible for at least 20 seconds. Next time you’re over the sink, start noticing how that actually feels. Maybe close your eyes and take in the sensations you’ve never paid attention to before. (Is it cold? Slippery? Has that wrinkle in your palm always been there?) Try using the time to think of five things you’re grateful for. Beats singing “Happy Birthday,” right?
Bubble breathing. If you have a bottle of bubbles lying around the house, this one’s for you. First, breathe in slowly, filling every inch of your lungs with air. Then, with your mouth pointed toward the bubble wand, let out a slow, steady stream of breath until a huge bubble begins to form. Focus on your breath as the bubble grows bigger. Repeat this a few times, and notice the way your body and mind feel after.
Connect at home. Staying away from other people is important right now to keep us all healthy, but it feels strange. If you’re missing a sense of connection, the “Fun House Mirrors” game is an option. Grab a parent or sibling, stand across from each other and choose a leader. The leader’s job is to make slow movements; the partner makes the same movements. The goal is to follow each other so closely that you’re moving totally together.
S.T.O.P. If you want to take it a step further, try a more traditional practice known as S.T.O.P. The “S” tells us to stop what we’re doing — pause the video game, put down your homework — and sit or lie down. Then comes “T,” which stands for taking deep breaths, in through the nose and out of the mouth. “O” is for observing what’s happening in your mind, body and emotions while continuing to breathe. There’s no right or wrong thing to feel, so just think about what you’re feeling inside. Finally, “P” asks us to proceed with our day while still thinking about how we feel about everything going on.