We have all been impacted in some way or form with the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of us who work in health care, have encountered firsthand on the repercussions of this deadly virus. We have seen patients who were once healthy and independent become so debilitated that they become bed ridden.
In the acute care setting, we have seen patients fighting for their lives and eventually dying all alone in the hospital bed surrounded not by the warmth and love of their family members, but by health care workers who are hidden behind personal protective gear. During their last moments these patients are unable to see a loving smile or care in anyone’s eyes.
In the long-term care settings, we have seen patients being confided in their rooms not being able to participate in group meals or social activities. We have seen patients dying all alone in their beds while the family members cling on to the windows of their rooms watching helplessly.
Needless to say, these are trying times and each one of us have been impacted by this pandemic.
While it is inevitable not to keep thinking of the patients even when we leave the facility, we have to be able to cope with these difficulties so that we can be present for our families and are able to take care of ourselves . One of the ways to be able to cope with such challenging times, is to practice mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness is the practice of meditation in which one practices being intensely aware of the present sensation and feelings. This is achieved by guided imagery, breathing and any other practices that can help one relax their mind and body in order to help relieve stress.
During the pandemic times it is more likely that we are experiencing stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Mindfulness can assist us in directing attention away from these negative thoughts and be aware and in the present.
Benefits of Mindfulness meditation.
Many clinical trials have supported the use of meditation to assist with stress, anxiety, pain, depression, insomnia and even high blood pressure. Recent studies have also shown the positive effects of mediation with asthma and chronic pain. Meditation assists one to accept the present and has shown to improve attention and sleep.
Ways to practice mindfulness.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness such as paying attention to the moment. For instance, when eating a favorite food, taking time to smell, taste and truly enjoy what you are eating. Another way to practice mindfulness is by finding joy in simple pleasures by living in the moment and accepting yourself for who you are. When bombarded with negative thoughts, even a minute of sitting down and practicing focused breathing can help.
How quilling and crocheting has helped me practice mindfulness.
For those who know me personally, you know that I have a very hard time sitting still. My brain is bombarded with a million thoughts at the same time. I feel that I have to constantly be doing things. This is something I cannot change and makes it very challenging for me to sit still and practice mindfulness. My love for crochet and now paper quilling has helped me be able to sit down, relax and feel that I am still accomplishing something.
When I paper quill, I sit close to a window so that I can look outside. I do not have the TV or music on. My goal during quilling is not to get as much accomplished as I can in the shortest time, but rather to enjoy and savor each and every shape that I make. I start by picking out the colors that I need for my art. As I pick out the colors, I slow down and feel the texture of each strip as one pack of paper may contain several different thicknesses of paper. Then it is on to coiling and creating the art. When I do this, I focus on my deep breathing and try not to think of the big picture but rather one single piece at a time.
Remember, simple mindfulness can be practiced at anytime and anywhere. For me, it is quilling and crocheting. For you, it might be savoring a glass of wine and practicing deep breathing. Whatever it is, do it. After about 6 months of practice, you will find that this will become effortless.
So, this year, make a commitment to nurture and love yourself by aiming to practice even 5 minutes of mindfulness every day.