I’m here to talk about silencing our phones and taking a moment to be mindful. If you’re like me and working from home or just following the ongoing pandemic news, you’re likely glued to your phone waiting for important emails and updates mixed in with all the panicked images of people hoarding toilet paper and updates from every single company list-serve about how they are responding to COVID-19. It’s easy to get sucked into the social atmosphere of panic and urgency, creating a lot of anxiety for people.
One way you can combat this anxiety is by occasionally taking a step back. To start, silence your phone or place it on do-not-disturb. I know this may seem anxiety provoking, but I promise you that your notifications will still be there in a few minutes and you’ll feel more capable of responding after taking a short break.
Here are three simple forms of mindfulness practices that you may use during your brief moment of disconnection from the internet and increased connection to yourself.
One simple way to be mindful is to check in with your breath. You are always [ideally] breathing, so your breath becomes an anchor that you can use anywhere to bring yourself back to the present moment.
I invite you now to start paying attention to your breathing. Notice if your breath is more in your chest or your stomach. Notice if you are breathing quickly or taking slow, deep breaths. Do not attempt to change your breathing, you’ve been breathing all day long and right now we are just paying attention to how it feels. If you are comfortable and able, place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach, noticing your hands rise and fall with each inhale and exhale.
If it feels comfortable, take a nice, slow, deep breath in, really filling your belly and notice it expand as you inhale. And when you exhale let it out on a sigh, making some noise. If you’d like, take another deep breath and let the air out on another big sigh. These deep breaths are a signal to your body that it’s time to relax.
Noticing Your Thoughts
Another great way to be mindful is to just notice your thoughts. Many people think mindfulness and meditation is about emptying your mind, but if you’ve ever tried to do that, you’ll know how impossible that is! Instead, I invite you to just take on a spectator role and notice what thoughts are going through your mind. Try not to make judgments about what you’re thinking about and try to be a passive observer. You may find your mind wandering and get hooked on a thought — that’s okay! When you notice that happening, unhook yourself and go back to that observer role, noticing thoughts as they come up.
Take this time to check in with yourself and notice what’s on your mind. Are your thoughts focused on planning and the future? Are you thinking more about the past and things that have already happened? Or are you simply in the present moment? Again, try not to judge, just notice. It’s natural to judge our thoughts so don’t blame yourself if you find yourself doing this. It takes lots of practice!
Mindful Body Scan
The last mindfulness technique we’re going to try is a simple body scan. To do this, simply check in with your body, slowly scanning yourself from head to toe. Are you holding any tension anywhere? What happens when you purposefully relax those areas? Are you hungry, thirsty, or need to stretch out? Do you need to go to the bathroom or change positions? Take note of these needs.
It’s easy for these things to be put on the backburner when we’re deeply focused on other tasks and there’s not as much separation between our home and work lives.
You may now unsilence your phone and return to your day! I told you that you could do it! If you found this helpful, I encourage you to take a moment like this at least once a day to give you a break from the social atmosphere of anxiety. Be safe, wash your hands, and stay home!
Author: Marissa L Ferrito, MA