Between all of the news sources, Facebook posts, and toilet paper disappearing before it even hits the shelves, its difficult to not panic. There’s a collective rise in community-based stress around the United States, and the world. That being acknowledged, it is important to attempt to reduce the stress you may be personally feeling. That may seem like you’re being asked to run a marathon that you have never trained for with everything that is occurring in the world around us. However, research over the last thirty years has demonstrated how stress can reduce the efficacy of your immune system. Attempting to manage stress or anxiety will decrease the likelihood of having impairments to your immune system functioning while we are in the midst of this pandemic.
One of the primary ways to manage a stress response when you are frequently faced with information involving COVID-19, and the potential spread, is to identify effective relaxation techniques for yourself. Take at least 10-15 minutes of mindful relaxation each day. The mindfulness component of relaxation is important because it requires a focus on the here and now during a relaxation technique. Even the brief utilization of relaxation techniques (10-15 minutes) can lead to significant reductions in perceived stress and the physical responses that result from stress. Some of the common relaxation techniques are meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery. Relaxation techniques can also be engaging in activities that activate and utilize one of the five senses, such as taking a bath, coloring, burning one of your favorite candles, or eating one of your comfort foods.
Here are a few recommended resources and apps to practice mindfulness:
- “Headspace” – APP (Free) http://www.getsomeheadspace.com/
- Simply Being – APP ($0.99) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simply-being-guided-meditation/id347418999?mt=8
- ColorZen – APP (Free) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/color-zen/id650122229?mt=8
- Guided Mindfulness Exercises – Online (Free) http://franticworld.com/free-meditations-from-mindfulness/
- Online Videos How Meditation Can Reshape Our Brains (08:33) TEDx Cambridge by Sara Lazar, Ph.D. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8rRzTtP7Tc
- All It Takes is 10 Minutes (09:24) TEDTALK by Andy Puddicombe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXb6Jhklyqk
- Headspace Videos (roughly 01:45 each) http://www.youtube.com/user/Getsomeheadspace
- The Science Behind Meditation (06:26) http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL76719994710FDCA5
- The Long Journey to Becoming ‘10% Happier’ (13:23) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sXBEfIXUno
Mindfulness Worksheets and Tools
- Mindful Breathing Practice Form http://www.thehappinesstrap.com/upimages/Mindful_Breathing_Practice_Form.pdf
- Informal Mindfulness Exercises http://www.thehappinesstrap.com/upimages/Informal_Mindfulness_Exercises.pdf
- Various Mindfulness Tools http://www.psychologytools.org/mindfulness.html