Click to expand
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing more than physical sickness. Repercussions of the pandemic have been felt economically, socially, and mentally. Uncertain times can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.
Anxiety, by definition, is a cognitive or mental state that may occur when emotional responses to perceived threats are not regulated. Those nagging, emotional, unproductive worries about the past or the future can also cause stress. And as studies have shown, stress weakens the immune system — which is the last thing any of us need right now.
“We all need to de-stress, connect, and relax — now more than ever,” said Chanda Vaniman, Exercise Physiologist and Certified Yoga Instructor at the St. George Intermountain LiVe Well Center. “Mindfulness is an evidence-based stress reduction technique. Mindfulness as part of daily meditation is a way to tap into our own strength and connect to the moment.”
Mindfulness strengthens a person’s cognitive ability to regulate emotions. It is a means to train the mind to become more capable, focused, and clear thus allowing for the mind to make better adaptive decisions to difficult situations. Mindfulness is a way to deal with distracting worries without giving them the power to cause great anxiety.
“Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an eight-week class we teach at the LiVe Well Center,” said Vaniman. “Participants learn how to listen to themselves, how to sit with a feeling until it dissolves or neutralizes, how to take deep calming breaths, and how to be mentally present in the moment. Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and relieve chronic pain.”
© Intermountain Healthcare
Chanda Vaniman, Exercise Physiologist and Certified Yoga Instructor at the St. George Intermountain LiVe Well Center.
Vaniman said day-to-day life gives many opportunities to be mindfully present in the moment. For example, Vaniman suggested practicing mindfulness for a few minutes when first waking up in the morning.
“Before jumping out of bed or grabbing your phone, take a moment to mindfully connect with yourself,” Vaniman said. “Stay in bed, get comfortable (a corpse yoga pose with feet open) and take a minute to be present in the moment and breathe deeply. Notice what your senses are perceiving — sound, touch, sight. Check in with your body, starting with your toes and working up to the top of the head. Notice how each part feels in that moment. Practice keeping your mind in the moment.”
Mindfulness can be practiced throughout the day in whatever you are doing. The mind has a tendency to constantly wander and worry unproductively. Mindfulness can be practiced while doing dishes, taking a walk, doing yoga, or talking on the phone with a friend. Being aware and being in each moment reduces stress.
“There are many avenues for mindfulness and meditation available today,” said Vaniman. “There are apps and online videos for guided meditation. Yoga, or any mindful movement, is also a great way to practice mindfulness. Group MBSR classes are also highly effective. Another MBSR class will be available in fall 2020 at the St. George LiVe Well Center. We also offer an online Mindful Movement Class every Friday.” (See information below)
As we train our minds to become more focused and clear and learn to accept and regulate emotions in a productive way, we become more mindful and able to savor each moment. Being mindful is about being in the moment, taking a slow deep breath, and knowing that everything is OK in that very moment.
“We need to remember that we are all feeling like the world has turned upside down,” Vaniman said. “We all feel isolated. It can be frustrating to stay at home every day. We are all frightened of a very real danger that we cannot see. These are challenging times. As we learn to manage and maneuver our own personal stress, we will be able to help others reduce their stress and anxiety.”
Please join the online St. George LiVe Well Center Mindful Movement Class from 10-10:30 a.m. every Friday. The class is open to everyone. Go to Webex.com. Click “join” enter your name and email and use “805 896 846” for room information. Practice mindfulness with us and relieve some COVID-19 stress!
This LiVe Well column represents collaboration between healthcare professionals from the medical staffs of our not-for-profit Intermountain Healthcare hospitals and The Spectrum & Daily News.
This article originally appeared on St. George Spectrum & Daily News: Mindfully reducing stress and anxiety about the coronavirus pandemic