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How We Should Embrace a Post-Covid World

by Michael Teh

It has been a long year for all of us as we had to make changes to our lifestyle in order to embrace the COVID-19 pandemic. And while most of us who are now fully vaccinated, life is slowly returning back to normalcy but that should not give us the chance to be complacent or let our guards down.

At the same time, it is only natural that we have become mentally exhausted as we are constantly staying alert due to the disruption and uncertainty as well as taking necessary safety measures to protect ourselves from the virus.

That said, we should also take care of our minds as we are constantly dealing with stress and anxiety due to the virus. One of the best approaches to help us to manage our mental health is through mindfulness. Read on to learn practical tools and techniques to help you stay calm as we live in this pandemic.

“When you’re nearing your tipping point, do give your brain a break as it helps to deactivate acute stress (fight or flight response). Even with short moments of reprieve, they are beneficial as they help to reset and enable us to find the middle ground between feeling overwhelmed and denial. “

It has been a long year for all of us as we had to make changes to our lifestyle in order to embrace the COVID-19 pandemic. And while most of us who are now fully vaccinated, life is slowly returning back to normalcy but that should not give us the chance to be complacent or let our guards down.

At the same time, it is only natural that we have become mentally exhausted as we are constantly staying alert due to the disruption and uncertainty as well as taking necessary safety measures to protect ourselves from the virus.

That said, we should also take care of our minds as we are constantly dealing with stress and anxiety due to the virus. One of the best approaches to help us to manage our mental health is through mindfulness.

Here are some practical tools and techniques to help you stay calm as we live in this pandemic.

Healthy Brain Breaks

When you’re nearing your tipping point, do give your brain a break as it helps to deactivate acute stress (fight or flight response). Even with short moments of reprieve, they are beneficial as they help to reset and enable us to find the middle ground between feeling overwhelmed and denial. It is in this place that we will be able to make better choices to support ourselves and those around us.

Here are some ways to give your brain some healthy breaks it deserves:

Move: Any physical movement is a great way of releasing the build-up excess energy that often accompanies the fight or flight response. By taking a walk or running outside; doing some stretching, yoga or some other form of mindful movement will do wonders for you.

Breathe: When you slow down your breathing rate, it will help to ease the uncomfortable physical sensations of fear and anxiety.

Here are the steps to help you breathe mindfully

  • Stop what you’re doing, take three long, slow deep breaths.
  • Impose a rhythm on your breathing so that your out-breath becomes longer than your in-breath.
  • Try a 4-2-6 rhythm – e.g. breathe for 4 counts, hold your breath for 2 counts, and breathe out for 6 counts.
  • If that doesn’t feel comfortable, try imposing a 3-1-4 rhythm. The main thing is that your out-breath is slightly longer than your in-breath.

Ground: Be connected to what is happening around you and consciously engage your senses. Try the following:

  • Splash cold water on your face
  • Take a hot (or cold) shower
  • Cuddle your pet
  • Smell and/or diffuse a relaxing essential oil (i.e. lavender, geranium, ylang ylang)
  • Take a moment to enjoy a cup of tea – really pay attention to the aroma and taste

Sleep

When we feel fearful or anxious, sleeping will often be very difficult. That said, given the importance of sleep for our mental and physical wellbeing, which also includes immunity, it is essential to establish good habits around sleep.

Do consider creating a pre-sleep routine by turning off news and screens at least an hour before going to bed. And if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, rather than just laying in bed and worrying, try to meditate or breathe mindfully.

Contribute

Contributing to the wellbeing of others will help shift our attention from ourselves onto others. This helps us to connect with others; gain a sense of agency, even if only in a small way; plus helping others also positively impacts our own wellbeing.

Do look into ways you can help others around you. For example, you can help support a local business that is struggling, helping out at the community centre or checking up on an elderly relative.

Credit: Beyond Blue

Michael Teh, 11th September 2021.