Want to Stay Mindful During Quarantine? Here’s What One Expert Advises

To those who don’t have a mindfulness practice — now may be the best time to begin one.

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Strategies to help you and your team stay mindful and navigate uncertainty more skillfully and compassionately

Adjusting to this new quarantined life can take a toll on our mental health. Whether you’re homeschooling your children while running your business, you’ve been recently laid off, or you’re living alone and missing human contact, having a strong mindfulness practice in place can help buffer the negative effects of these challenges.

The popular meditation app Headspace defines mindfulness as “the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.”

As we charter into this new and unmarked territory of life and business in quarantine, there are strategies you can implement to help yourself stay mindful.

We interviewed Mindfulness Expert Isabel Duarte on how she’s building her mindfulness routine and what she suggests for others. Here’s what she has to say:

Q: What can we say to ourselves to cope with mental struggles and put space between ourselves and our problems?

Answer: There’s a very real existential fear and uncertainty, since everyone is dealing with an unprecedented global pandemic. We don’t really know how it’s going to affect us, our families and friends, our community, or our businesses.

There’s also the added pressure to keep being productive, to stay positive, and to “make the most of the quarantine.” We’re all having to learn new ways of living, working, socializing, and caring for our loved ones. Collectively, we’re handling a strange type of grief and it’s okay to not know how to deal with it.

The best thing we can do right now is to give ourselves room to sit with whatever it is we’re feeling. Nap if you’re tired, be sad and cry if you’re disappointed, let your kids watch YouTube if you’re exhausted from home schooling, and take time off work even if you have nowhere to go.

Q: We might feel like we’re not performing, managing, or parenting to the best of our ability. How can we be kinder to ourselves?

Answer: Talking about your struggles with people you trust can be helpful in showing you that you’re not alone in your feelings.

There are several mindfulness resources created specifically for helping people develop self-compassion. Self-compassion meditations specifically can be incredibly helpful right now. Here are 2 links to follow from www.tenpercent.com and self-compassion.org.

Q: What small habits can we do each day to find or create some peace for ourselves?

Answer: Do something everyday that feels resourceful, and make sure you’re tending to yourself and your needs. Carve out time and space to care for your mental and physical well-being. Some suggestions are to get some fresh air, move your body, meditate, keep your space clean and comfortable, and reach out to loved ones over the phone or video calls.

Get some fresh air, move your body, meditate, keep your space clean and comfortable, and reach out to loved ones over the phone or video calls.

Meditating every day as it helps keep your immune system strong and your cortisol levels lower (reducing your anxiety).

Be open and communicate clearly with the people you’re quarantining with. Ask for the space and time you need and find compromises that work for everyone. If your home space is limited, a great strategy for “creating” space is to put your headphones on and get lost in your own music, audiobook or TV show.

Q: What do we do when none of our mindfulness tricks work?

Answer: When our anxiety levels are high, it can be difficult to sit through a meditation practice. In these times, we need to take smaller steps. Start by simply taking a few deep breaths. Keep them slow and steady and focus on lengthening the exhale. Breath in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds, and breathe out for 4 seconds. Just practice your breathing and calming your body instead of focusing on meditation.

Q: How can we lead people calmly through this time?

As a leader, people will look to you for guidance and reassurance, so it’s critical that you’re caring for your own well-being as much as your team’s.

Answer: Similar to putting on an oxygen mask, you need to put your own mask on first before you can put someone else’s on for them.

As a leader, people will look to you for guidance and reassurance, so it’s critical that you’re caring for your own well-being as much as your team’s. Build a routine that works for you and communicate openly with your team about how the situation is unfolding for everyone.”

If you don’t have a regular mindfulness practice, now is the best time to begin. It’s a habit that will give you the tools to navigate uncertainty and fear more skillfully and compassionately. You can start by meditating as a group for 10 minutes with a free guided meditation before meetings.

If you’re looking for alternative activities, there are many other ways to keep your mind calm. A few to consider are:

  • Indoor gardening
  • Bread baking
  • Organizing your photos or recipes
  • Practicing yoga
  • Cooking

Remember — it’s okay to worry, freak out, and lose your cool from time to time.

What are you doing to keep yourself mindful? Let us know by tweeting us at @Zenefits.

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