Defying the challenges one day at a time
Mindfully speaking, the only way we can deal with the current situations of lock-down and social distancing is one day at a time. We can make plans for how to feed ourselves, work from home (if we are fortunate enough to be able to do that) and parents can help their children to study from home. Whatever we do during these unusual times, life is different and for some it will present difficult challenges.
No matter how strong we may be, it’s essential that we take care of our mental and physical health. Already we are seeing increases in abuse within relationships that are exacerbated because social distancing forces people closer and confines them to base. Children are frustrated because they are unable to visit friends and studying is a challenge because not all parents can teach, and schoolteachers are only available through electronic messaging in territories that have set this up.
People who felt lonely before this pandemic struck feel lonelier than ever. A US based mental health charity reported that among 1,519 callers who talked about COVID-19, one in five communicated a desire to take their own lives. Based on experience, the charity predicts that these numbers will increase.
“Anxiety or stress was the number one concern for 43 percent of the people, followed by health concerns for 25 percent, relationship concerns for 21 percent, and loneliness or isolation for 19 percent”.
There are many potential causes or events that can lead to mental illness that can be usefully highlighted in three areas to give us an overview. Look at the info graphic and note how the circles overlap. Simply put, if you have a biological physical health disability, it will have a psychological effect such as lowered self-esteem that challenges personal skills and the ability to interact positively in the social world. It’s a vicious set of circles that can lead to amplified mental health challenges that can also affect other people close to us.
Here are a few factors that can lead to mental health challenges that are showing prominence due to links with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Social disadvantage, poverty or debt.
- Social isolation or loneliness.
- Unemployment (loss of job or business)
What Can We Do?
Here is a suggestion that applied regularly can contribute to rising to the challenges brought about by the present situation. Over the next seven days, I will be offering a selection of exercises each day that can help.
So, let’s defy the challenges one day at a time.
Defiance 1 – On The Move Mindfulness Meditation
Personal time-out can be effective in helping reduce stress and energize your mind. You might be hard-pressed to find a quiet place to get away from other people in your lock-down tribe and getting outside just might not be possible due to local rules but there are solutions for that.
Not sure how to move, walk and meditate at the same time? Follow these simple steps to a world of mindful possibility and find your Zen. You may feel a little self-conscious at first, don’t worry, this will pass.
Start with what you have. If you can go outside and take a walk, great. Even if it’s just around the garden, that will work. Just a few days ago, a Frenchman ran a full marathon on his apartment balcony. With a little imagination, anything is possible. So long as you can keep moving during this exercise. Don’t worry, no marathons here.
- To begin, stand still with your eyes closed and be aware of your breathing. Enjoy each breath and track it as it causes your body to move. Be curious, don’t question, just allow your breathing to circulate naturally. After a few minutes, open your eyes and start walking at a slower than usual for you pace.
- As you move, notice how your body feels. Does it feel heavy or light, rigid or relaxed?
- Look at what you see around you: people, flowers, trees, pictures, signs, . . . don’t interact, just observe.
- Turn your attention to sounds. Don’t think or analyze, just be aware as you pass by or they pass you.
- What can you smell? Again, no analysis required but do note how the mind wants to create a story relating to your sense of smell.
- Notice physical sensations. Does the sun feel warm? Are the lights bright? Can you feel the soles of your feet on the ground? Can you feel any aches or pains? Just notice.
- Pay attention to any feelings that come up as you move. What happens when something interferes with your rhythm? A chilly wind blows, it starts raining, the sun is bright. . .? Don’t judge, just notice your thoughts and let them drift away.
- Now move your attention to your pace. Note the speed and rhythm of your walking as your guide. Always aim to maintain the same speed. If you find your mind wandering, focus on your pace and do it each time you realize your mind has wandered.
You’ll find over time that the routine of walking can convert into a tool you can use to ground yourself and relax, even as you go about your daily business.
Good luck. See you soon.
More Tools That Help
Relating to these there are plenty of tools in addition to the one presented here that can help with your Personal Growth and Development whether you feel challenged or just seek to advance the way you respond to your world. If you would like a free 20-minute coaching session on some of these, please leave your contact details in the comments and you will receive a prompt response. Alternatively, you can send an email. Please understand that your contact details will never be shared outside ExGro.
There are many ways to effectively explore and advance your Personal Development in any area of life that matters to you. A box of tools to challenge the boundaries and move forward toward realizing success is extremely beneficial.
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Comments and Questions
Leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in other readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.
I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy
Peace & Light
Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, friend and clinical psychologist, Leo Faerberg.