COVID stress can be managed with the use of these nine mindfulness techniques.

Covid-related stress and worry has caused 53% of adults in the United States say that their mental health has deteriorated.

From the same pandemic that gave you concepts like “social distancing” and “Zoom fatigue,” here’s another to add to your lexicon: Covid anxiety.

According to Google Trends, searches for the keyword were non-existent in February, peaked at the end of March, dropped at the start of summer, and are on the rise as we approach winter.

It’s understandable. We need a title for the immense stress we feel as we suffer yet another month of managing work, family, and schooling from our homes.

If you’re feeling particularly harried as a result of these unprecedented times, we’ve got some mindfulness techniques to assist you in coping with Covid stress. But first, consider how people have been affected by pandemic-related stress and what science indicates about how mindfulness.

COVID Stress Data Indicates the Pandemic has had a Toll on Mental Health

  1. In the United States, 53% of adults believe Covid-related concern and stress has harmed their mental health, up 21 points since March. [1]

  2. During the pandemic, 36% of adults in the United States report difficulties sleeping. [1]

  3. 12% of individuals claim they’ve increased their drink or drug intake due to Covid worry. [1]

  4. During the epidemic, more than one-third of individuals reported having anxiety or depression symptoms, compared to more than one-tenth before the pandemic. [1]

  5. 13.3% of adults said they began or increased their substance use in response to Covid stress. [2]

  6. Since working from home, 45 percent of employees who are new to remote working have felt a loss of sense of belonging (86 percent of them started working remotely because of the pandemic). [3]

  7. In 2019, the average stress level in the United States was 4.9. It will reach 5.9 in 2020, the first substantial increase since the 2007 launch of the Annual Stress in America Survey. [4]

  8. Work is cited as a “significant source of stress in their lives” by 70% of employed persons, up from 60% in 2019. (64 percent ). [4]

  9. During the pandemic in the United Kingdom, 18- to 30-year-olds, low-income persons, and adults living alone—all categories thought to be at high risk for loneliness—were even more at risk for loneliness. [5]

  10. Before and after Covid, millennials (ages 24-39) were among the most likely to feel lonely. [6]

  11. Since the pandemic began, the rate of depression in adults in the United States has tripled. It’s especially prevalent in persons who are worried about money. [7]

There are five encouraging data about mindfulness activities.

What is mindfulness, exactly? My favorite definition comes from Headspace, a meditation app:

“Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and engaged in the present moment, mindful of your thoughts and sensations without being distracted.”

With so many of us concerned about the future during this pandemic, learning to be more present-oriented could be beneficial. And there’s a lot of evidence to back up mindfulness as a technique to improve happiness. Let’s have a look at a few studies.

1. Mindfulness has been shown to relieve stress.

When compared to those who listened to an audiobook, those who conducted an eight-week guided body scan mindfulness exercise exhibited lower indicators of biological stress. [8]

2. Mindfulness meditation may assist in reducing the amount of time spent ruminating on unpleasant thoughts.

A 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat was held for twenty novice meditators. These 20 meditators demonstrated reductions in rumination and depressive symptoms compared to the control group, which did not receive any meditation training. [9]

3. Consciousness Meditation may assist you in getting a better night’s sleep.

Two groups of elderly persons (average age of 66) were studied: A mindful awareness practices (MAPs) intervention was completed in one group, while asleep hygiene education (SHE) intervention was completed in the other.

The mindfulness group had better sleep quality, as well as fewer insomnia symptoms and exhaustion. [10]

4. Acceptance with awareness may help to alleviate pain and unpleasant emotions.

Recent studies show that mindfulness training affects emotional control in persons who don’t meditate. Participants were exposed to unpleasant visuals and unpleasant temperatures and were given the option of reacting normally or practicing thoughtful acceptance of what was happening.

The practice of mindful acceptance has been related to a reduction in pain and unpleasant emotions. [11]

5. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help those with anxiety and depression.

Mindfulness meditation showed “moderate evidence” of relieving anxiety and sadness, according to a study of 47 trials with 3,515 individuals. [12]

Mindfulness Exercises to Try Right Now

With so much data pointing to mindfulness’s benefits, you might want to give it a shot. Below are some recommended mindfulness activities from various health care specialists to get you started. Try these out to get rid of your Covid tension!

Please keep in mind that the following information is not intended to be medical advice. If you’re having signs of anxiety, sadness, or overwhelming stress, see a doctor or another competent health care provider.

Deep Breathing

We’ve all had our bodies react to stress, like when we’re caught in traffic and experienced our grip on the steering wheel tightening or our shoulders creeping up to our ears. Our bodies tense up; our brains receive a signal that there is a reason to be anxious, which keeps our minds spinning with worry and puts our brains on high alert.

To release this pent-up tension, try a mindfulness exercise.

  • Sit with your hands in your lap and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Close your eyes for a moment.

  • Concentrate on the muscles in your shoulders and neck, which are often the source of stress. Take note of how they are feeling.

  • Tighten your shoulders and pull them as close as possible to your ears. Consider it a giant shrug.

  • While counting to five, stay in this stance. Take note of how your shoulders feel as you count.

  • Relax and lower your shoulders as far as they will go. Consider how different your shoulders suddenly feel.

This should be done five times.

You’ll be shocked how relaxed your shoulders and neck feel afterward.

Thoughts in the Form of Clouds

Rumination—the inability to let go of a distressing negative thought—can sometimes produce stress. Sometimes it’s the other way around: an idea is so painful to us that we strive to force it out of our heads, only to discover that it persists.

So, how do you keep your thoughts from dominating your life?

We suggest the following exercise.

  • Turn your phone off.

  • Place yourself in a comfortable position.

  • Focus a single object.

  • As if your thoughts were clouds in the sky, observe them.

Toolkit for the Senses

It’s not always necessary to sit with your eyes closed to be mindful.

Create a sensory toolkit with relaxing products that engage all five of your senses. Are you looking for inspiration?

Here’s another great mindfulness exercise we recommend.

  • A photograph of a buddy, pet, or child; a kind note; an email; an affirmation.

  • Lavender oil, scented candle, and lotion scents.

  • Hearing: The sounds of nature, or your favorite tune.

  • Tastes like peppermint gum, tea, and ginger..

  • A smooth stone, kinetic sand, silly putty,

  • Put each of these items in a bag or small box on your work desk and pull them out when you’re feeling stressed,

Breathing Exercise for One Minute

We don’t always realize it, but when we experience internal or external conflict, such as stress, our bodies go into fight or flight mode. Taking short, shallow breaths is one of our bodies’ reactions. This causes us to become more tense in our bodies, which is one of the causes of anxiety.

This brief breathing technique is a favorite mindful exercise.

  • Inhale deeply for four seconds via your nose.

  • For two seconds, hold your breath.

  • Take a six-second exhale.

Repeat five times more.

Acceptance & Awareness

You may recall that a study published in 2019 found that mindful acceptance reduced pain and negative emotions. Remember that the individuals were shown aversive images or exposed to harsh temperatures, and they were told to embrace their bad emotions.

The participants read the following analogy in the instructions given to them:

“Imagine that you’re the driver of a bus. There are a handful of people on this bus. Your ideas are the passengers. Assume, for the time being, that all of the people on your bus are scary, and that they are all yelling directions about where you need to go. “You must turn left,” “You must go right,” and so forth. They threaten you by threatening to come upfront from the back of the bus and make trouble if you don’t do what they say. So you believe that in order to prevent difficulty, you must heed these passengers and follow their instructions.”

Negative sentiments and thoughts, like passengers on a bus, are only transient, according to the guidelines. They arrive, then they depart. Accept your thoughts and feelings as they are, imaging them as passengers, rather than battling them. They’ll finally go.

So the next time something bothers you—a noisy house when you’re trying to work, for example, or a harsh email—try this evidence-based practice. Accept your unpleasant feelings rather than battling them, remembering that they are simply passing through.

Interests

How about just doing something enjoyable as a form of mindfulness? Hobbies are a completely reasonable method to bring yourself back to the present moment.

Most hobbies are mindfulness activities. It’s simply that they weren’t always called that. Let me encourage you to go to Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or any other craft store and try out whatever strikes your attention. It can be great to learn about new enjoyable pastimes, and it all leads to the possibility for mindfulness.

Be Aware, Kind, and Healthy

As you can see, mindfulness exercises are a cost-effective and easy technique to relieve Covid tension. There is evidence that this exercise can lessen biochemical indications of stress, reduce feelings of discomfort, and even help you sleep better, according to study.

While mindfulness exercises can help with stress alleviation during difficult times, they are not a panacea. Mindfulness will not solve extremely real problems, such as a worldwide pandemic, job uncertainty, or an economic downturn. It merely provides you with a tool to deal with situations over which you have no control.

Don’t use meditation to replace conventional treatment or as a justification to postpone seeing a health care practitioner about a medical problem,

Everyone is affected by stress in different ways. It might have both physical and psychological symptoms. So make an appointment with a doctor or therapist who can assist you if necessary. Check with your company’s employee assistance program to discover what mental health options are available. Another excellent resource is online therapy, which allows you to attend sessions electronically while the pandemic is ongoing. In the past year,

We all need a little extra support these days. It takes courage to ask for help, but it’s the only way we’ll all make it through this pandemic together. Meanwhile, let us look forward to the day when the phrase “Covid stress” will be obsolete.

This post is not intended to be used as medical advice. If you are experiencing emotional or physical distress, please seek the advice of a physician or other licensed health care expert. Here are some useful links for you:

Call 911 if you’re in danger.

The following crisis support services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are absolutely free:

1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)

1-800-985-5990 (Disaster Distress Helpline)

Text HOME to 741741 to reach a crisis text line.