Using mindfulness during coronavirus: Northern Ireland expert’s tips on lowering anxiety

This was the headline of the Belfast Telegraph I featured in on 16 March 2020. Here is the full article as published on their website: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/life/features/using-mindfulness-during-coronavirus-northern-ireland-experts-tips-on-lowering-anxiety-39049374.html

I’m also making FREE videos every night on the Immeasurable Minds YouTube Channel and running FREE meditations every morning and evening via Zoom. Plus all my regular classes including the 6 week Namaste mindfulness class, the monthly self-compassion workshops and 8-week courses are now running as normal only via Zoom. See the classes tab to book on the regular classes or the new daily ‘corona response’ sessions.

And here is the list of ‘top tips’ I sent to them for publication. I really hope it’s helpful. We WILL get through this together. #washyourhandsandmeditate.

My Top Tips for staying Calm through the Corona Crisis

  1. Breathe. Put your hand over your heart, take a big deep breath and say to yourself a mantra like ‘breathe, it’ll be ok’ repeat x 3

2. Sit in meditation for 5 minutes every morning and every evening. This is not as hard as you think. Just sit without distractions no devices, TV or radio. Sit, upright and comfortable in the quiet, listen to your own breathing. Let everything be. If anxious thoughts arise, say ‘not now. Right now just sitting, just breathing.’ You can set a timer for this or log on to the free app (and website) Insight Timer. Bridgeen has several free meditations on there and will add more soon. She also has meditations on the Immeasurable Minds YouTube channel.

3. Go outside every day. Walking is not cancelled. We can still enjoy stretching our legs. On our walk ‘take notice’. What can you see, smell, hear and feel? When you see, hear, smell or feel something pleasurable take time to savour it.

4. Do some gardening. Getting our hands dirty in the soil watching things grow is found to be very therapeutic and calming. Even if you live in an apartment without a garden as I did for 11 years you can get some planters and put things on windows or the balcony. Or go to an allotment or visit a park and notice different plants and trees. Nature has a lot to teach us.

5. Remember attitude is very important to help us through this difficult time. If we can all try to let others of the hook a bit, it will help us stay calm. It’s really easy to get annoyed (and add to our own stress in the process) by feeling critical of others who either aren’t taking it as serious as we are or are doing things we wouldn’t. – It’s best to remember that everyone is doing what they think is right for them. As Brene Brown said recently: “Surviving this crisis will take a shift in mindset, and that’s tougher than we think – especially when we’re afraid. Fear and anxiety can drive us to become very self-focused. This global pandemic is a real case of ‘getting sick together’ or ‘staying well together.’ Our choices affect everyone around us. There is no such thing as ‘individual risk’ or ‘individual wellness.’”

6. Eat well. It’s going to be really easy to stay home and eat and drink too much but this will also affect our mental wellbeing. Doing on line movement videos will also help.

7. Make sure you get enough sleep. Sleep hygiene (having a good sleep routine) is really helpful. If we get enough sleep we are more resilient and more able to handle stress – meditation can help this too.

8. Use this extra time or downtime to do all those things you keep putting off – seize the opportunity.  That song, poem or book you always wanted to write. The cupboard you wanted to Marie Kondo? The paperwork that’s piled up, the sewing, the baking, maybe the jigsaw you got for Christmas. Now’s the time to enjoy these old forgotten hobbies as well as catching up on the novel reading or the Netflix shows.

9. Look for the good. Even in the worst situation there is always something positive. Take inspiration from the Italians singing to each other on their balconies. Maybe at last we have a chance to spend more time with our loved ones, maybe at last a chance to rest. There is always something good if deliberately look for it. This is a practice. Find something good in every day. Write it down if you can.

10. Practice gratitude. The moment we stop being grateful is the moment we stop being happy. We can’t be anxious and grateful at the same time. Practice counting your blessings every day. Maybe start a gratitude journal or just pause every day and remember what you feel grateful for. It will make a huge difference.

Hop over to www.immeasurableminds.co.uk/classes to book onto a class or a free morning or evening meditation session. X