Mindfulness for coping: 3 new practices to tryMental health · Apr 5, 2021
Over the past year, Canadians have been forced to develop new coping strategies to combat prolonged stress, isolation and anxiety triggered by an unprecedented period in our history. According to a survey by The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canadians' top three coping mechanisms during the COVID-19 pandemic have been getting outdoors, connecting virtually with friends and family, and dedicating time to relax.
This speaks volumes about our collective resilience — what healthful ways to cope!
Mindfulness practices have also soared in popularity in recent months: mental wellness and mindfulness app downloads jumped by more than two million during the month of April 2020, when compared to to the month of January 2020
If you’re new to mindfulness, fear not: it’s a simple practice that takes a non-judgmental approach to paying attention to the present moment and can be integrated into your daily routine in many ways. Learning to practice mindfulness helps us become more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, which creates space for us to respond to situations with choice — rather than react on autopilot. Being mindful also makes it easier to observe the simple pleasures of life in real time as they occur.
In the spirit of building upon the positive shifts you’ve made during a truly difficult year, here are three new ways to incorporate mindfulness practices into the coping strategies you may already be using:
1. Get outdoors for a mindful walk: The next time you head out for a walk, try making it a mindful one. On a mindful walk there are a number of things you can pay attention to with focused awareness. Try observing the physical body in motion — notice the way each leg lifts and how the heel and ball of each foot come in contact with the ground. Alternatively, try paying attention to your surroundings, noticing the small details such as sounds, smells, the breeze on your skin, or a flower just beginning to bud.
2. Practice mindful communication on your next phone call: The next time you're on the phone with a family member or friend, just listen. During conversation, we have a tendency to conjure up our next sentence without fully listening and absorbing what the other person is saying. Enjoy a deeper feeling of connection by simply listening.
3. Mindfully send yourself well wishes: Help cultivate a sense of kindness and compassion toward yourself by taking a few moments to repeat meaningful well wishes to yourself while you are relaxing — perhaps in a warm bath, while lying down on the couch or while enjoying your morning coffee or tea. Try repeating the phrases, “May I be healthy”, “May I be happy”, and “May I live with ease”. You may even choose to place a hand over your heart while you silently repeat these phrases to yourself.