Pause. Breathe. Be Mindful.
Stress levels are at an all-time high for many of us as we continue to navigate life in a pandemic. You may find that some of your usual healthy coping strategies are not working like they used to. This may be a result of the long-term nature of the pandemic and how are bodies have become fatigued over time.
Maybe it’s time for a new coping strategy!
If you google, “How to cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the coping strategy at the top of the list is, “Pause. Breathe. Notice how you feel. Take slow deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.” This encapsulates the heart of what Mindfulness practices are all about. Mindfulness helps us to slow down, notice our breath, and engage our feelings in a way that relieves stress we might be feeling in our bodies.
I have a daily routine of waking up to my dog barking at 6 am. It’s not the best alarm, but it gets me out of bed! So, often still half asleep, I pull myself out of bed and get ready to take him for a walk. Most days, while I’m walking, I put on my headphones and listen to a podcast. Lately, however, I’ve found that I need a break from constant information and need to use my walk time for practicing mindfulness. I used to find listening to a podcast helped me to get the gears moving in my brain, but now I find I need that time to slow down, breathe, and listen to my stress. I need to appreciate the wind on my face and the birds singing. I need to experience the moment for all of its beauty. As a result, I find that I go back to that moment of slowness and breathing later on in my day when feelings of stress reappear. The intentional mindfulness practice in the morning equips me for extemporaneous practices later on.
This past Tuesday, Dr. Irene Kraegel, joined Beacon Hill residents via Zoom to lead them in intentional practices of mindfulness. She taught them the practice of the body scan, which uses the tools of mindfulness to help you become more fully attuned to your whole body. Stress is a very bodily thing and we often hold it in our gut, hips, and chest. Releasing that stress through mindfulness will help our whole body feel better. If you missed our session with Dr. Kraegel, check out her website, where she does mindfulness guided videos: https://www.themindfulchristian.com/guides_for_practice.html
This Saturday is Mindfulness Day 2020. Take time over the weekend to slow down, breathe, and listen to what your body is telling you. It might just be what you need to let go of stress and live fully in the moment.
Peace be upon you,
Chaplain Travis Jamieson