This past year and a half has brought about so many changes for many of us. One of the largest changes has been that many people, who once worked in office or other work location, are now doing their job from home. Are you one of these people? Whether or not you are, you still need mindfulness and stress reduction!
These changes may have had an unintended effect – drawing the lines between work and home has proven to be very challenging, and these lines are now crossed over a great deal. I imagine that some of you have kids at home, and everyone is stuck in the house while you are trying to work! Maybe you had to improvise and created a workspace in the kitchen, living or dining room, or even part of the bedroom. I remember when first setting up my office space at home, I had to do it in my bedroom, because there was no other usable space. Later on, I was able to build a beautiful office in my basement and that has worked very well. You can imagine that an office space in the bedroom would have an adverse effect on sleeping patterns. No matter what I did, I couldn’t stop thinking about work when I was trying to go to sleep. Plus, I had the lights of my equipment to deal with. And we all know how important sleep is to our wellbeing….
Some people, in trying to adapt to extremely trying circumstances, experienced lower work productivity, mixed feelings which directly impacted motivation, and as if we didn’t have enough of it already, think of all the added layers of stress created by the hoopla surrounding the pandemic (and now the variants), as well as having to adapt to working from home.
All of this has a dampening effect on our mental health as well as our physiological health. Plus, counselors who had been providing direct services to clients had to adapt to online delivery, and clients had to adapt to that too. Many educators and students had to switch to the online environment if they weren’t using those platforms already.
What is your story?
If you’ve been following my many articles, then you know how much I harp on staying healthy from a holistic perspective – mind, body, and soul. In fact, I’ve been able to reverse my auto-immune disease and restore my health back to where I was at a much earlier age … so, I know personally that it works! How then do we cope with these unusual circumstances that so many of us are still dealing with? How about people who need to recover from the effects of all this change, even if our world has righted itself again … mostly?
If you’ve heard of mindfulness, then you know that it’s about slowing down internally, so you’re actually present at any given second, without your mind racing to what’s ahead of you or what happened earlier. It’s often said that mindfulness is being present in the moment. There are not supposed to be any self-recriminations during this process – you are simply supposed to “be” in the moment, noticing what’s happening – no value judgments, no put-downs, etc.
It’s often helpful to create a time of day, even if it’s only 5-10 minutes, when you shut out the outside world and just exist. A time for you and you alone! There are numerous ways to accomplish this, and my personal favorite is to have binaural beats playing in the background, so low that I can barely hear them, and often music is playing which is also deeply meditative in nature. There are many free apps for this so you can just use your phone, or you can look on YouTube.
Mindfulness can also be sitting quietly with some meditation music and just “being” for 5-10 minutes. In fact, I have a comfortable chair in my bedroom set up where I can shut out the world for a few minutes, and just relax and enjoy the music. Of course, you can do whatever helps you slow down and smell the roses (or coffee as the case may be)! How about a nice relaxing bubble bath, with or without candles, or a nice glass of wine (providing you have no substance use issues). You are only limited by your imagination, so experiment and find out what you like the best. How often have we heard the words stress reduction? It sounds so easy, right? But we all know that lessening negative stress in our lives can be a stress in and of itself, too. Ironic!
I can remember trying to reduce my stress, back when my kids were young, at home, and always getting into things. Every time I tried to carve out some “me” time, the kids (and the pets too) would always find me and want something from me. What, do they have hidden radar or something?!
When trying to reduce stress, first sit down and think of the sources. Identify them. Is it work? Is it the kids? Is it your significant other? Is it your in-laws? Are you ill and trying to maintain your and your family’s lives with a semblance of normalcy? It’s good to stop rationalizing, blaming others, justifying things in some way. If you don’t take responsibility for what’s happening, putting yourself behind the steering wheel, it will only continue. A suggestion for this is to start to journal the sources of stress. Identify how you think about it, how you feel about it, and how it affects your physical body (i.e., does your tummy hurt when you are stressed out or do you get a stiff neck).
Next you can analyze how to make reductions. Does someone in particular stress you out? Can you limit or eliminate time spent in contact? Does it make you nervous to hear how many cases of COVID-19 are reported incessantly? I know I’m sick of hearing all the doomsday reporting, so I just rarely listen to the news anymore. My mornings especially are calmer now. I pick up whatever news I want from the internet and am in of control how much that is. Do you hate cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.? Find alternate ways to deal with it. For some people, it’s having groceries delivered or just picked up. Store employees can do your shopping. If you have the budget for it and you hate cleaning but like a clean environment (like me), find someone honest and reliable to hire to do it for you.
I can go on, but I think you get the idea. Learning how to take better care of yourself so you’re more available to yourself and others is quite valuable. Think about it – if you’re all stressed out, then your kids and other loved ones pick up on this as well. If you’re calmer and dealing with life in a healthy way, that’s what rubs off then too.
Have a happy and holistic day!
- Dr. P
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