Therefore, I encourage you all to remember that, although we cannot change the fact that we are living in the midst of a pandemic, we can choose how we respond to the challenges, uncertain times and changes that it brings. In taking care of our mental health, a good place to start is by bringing some mindful awareness into our everyday activities.
One thing we are all doing at this time is washing our hands more often, We are told to wash our hands for 20 seconds. This can feel like a long time. I have found it helpful to try mindfulness exercises during hand washing, which can feel peaceful, reduce stress and anxiety and be a way to build a meditation and mindfulness practice at the same time.
Mindfulness can be as simple as connecting with the senses during a simple task like hand washing. Explore the relaxing sensations of the water running over your hands. Water is an element of creativity, growth, emotion and connectivity.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose. Exhale and sigh out of your mouth. Release your jaw as you do this to let tension go. If you still feel tension in your jaw, repeat this a few times.
- Now, listen to the sound of the water. How does it sound right now? What other sounds can you hear?
- Notice the feeling of the warm water and soap on your hands. How does the water feel? What is the temperature of the water? What are the textures of the water and soap like? How do the muscles of your hands feel. How about the palm, fingers, knuckles, back of hand?
- As you turn the tap off, notice the muscles in your hands moving.
- Notice the texture of the towel as you dry your hands.
- Pay attention to the temperature of your hands and how it changes as they go from wet to dry.
- Begin to notice how washing your hands can feel different each time you do it.
Anything that involves water is soothing, washing dishes, showering, bathing an infant etc.
I hope you are able to bring a little bit of mindfulness to this simple activity we are doing several times daily. In my next article we will explore more ways to bring simple mindfulness into our everyday activities, but in the meantime I leave you with a quote from Viktor Frankl, prisoner of war and author of ‘Man's Search For Meaning’.
“When we no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom”
Until next time, take care and stay safe.
28 April 2020