Mindfulness Exercises To Keep You Calm Amidst COVID-19 Panic

These are trying times. But, you needn't buy into the panic over COVID-19. While we should all be extra vigilant about personal hygiene, social distancing and empathy towards others, we must stay present to avoid overwhelming ourselves with anxiety. Here are a few calming mindfulness exercises you can practice while at home under isolation.

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1. Deep Breaths

Take note of your breathing. Is it shallow, deep or quick? Becoming aware of your breathing is one of the most simple and effective ways to achieving mindfulness. When feeling anxious, try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Empty your lungs of air, then breathe in slowly through your nose for four counts. Hold the breath for seven counts, before forcefully exhaling through your mouth for up to eight seconds. Repeat at least four times to ‘re-boot’ your brain into a calmer state of mind.

2. Body Scan

Moving onto the body, you may want to lie down on a flat surface or sit yourself in a comfortable position on a sturdy chair. Again, notice the rhythm of your breath moving in and out. Then, guide your attention to the feel of the floor beneath your back, the chair underneath you or the way your clothes feel against your skin. Gently adjust your position if you notice tension in one area of the body. Now, run through each part of your body from the toes to the top of the head, noticing any areas of sensitivity, tension or relaxation. Once you have completed the body scan, slowly open your eyes, again taking note of your surroundings and your breathing.

3. Grounding

Grounding or the ‘five senses exercise’ is great for breaking yourself out of a sudden onset of anxiety. All you need to do is notice things around you, using each of your five senses – sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste. First notice five things you can see around you. Then four things you can touch or feel against your skin. Next, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and finally one thing you can taste in your mouth. This is a super quick and easy hack for bringing your mind into a state of present awareness and can be done almost anywhere.

4. The Raisin Exercise

Feeling wound up? Go find a raisin. This basic exercise is a great introduction into mindfulness. If you are not a fan of raisins, use an interesting sweet or any kind of food with an unusual texture, smell or taste. To begin, pretend that you have never seen a raisin (or whatever food you are using) before. Pay careful attention to the way it looks, feels, smells and tastes. Focusing solely on what is in front of you and experiencing it through your senses brings focus and mental clarity, so get out those raisins!

5. Mindful Eating

During times of great stress, many of us overeat. Don’t devour all your ‘quarantine’ snacks in one sitting, rather use them to find a mindful state of being. Pay careful attention to what you are eating for at least four minutes. Start by examining the texture, weight and colour of your food. Then, bring your awareness to the different smells emanating from your plate. Finally, move onto the eating bit – but do so slowly and with intention, noticing tastes and textures. This exercise not only brings you into the present moment, but can help you notice when you are satiated, preventing the inevitable guilt after binging.

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So you’re into mindfulness? Check out these top meditation apps to find your inner zen.