Managing Stress by Practicing Mindfulness During COVID-19
By Brandon Priddy, Public Services Librarian
The pandemic has been a very stressful time and it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed with anxiety and worry, but there are techniques and practices that will help you cope and better manage stress. Regular exercise is also vitally important and will help you relax. Bonus points if you can exercise in Nature and get some sun. I find that taking a 30 minute walk every day helps clear my mind and focus on what’s ahead. It also helps to monitor how much news you’re consuming and be mindful of how it can affect you. Personally, I had to implement a strict no reading or watching the news rule at night because it made it difficult to sleep. Remember that there’s nothing wrong in occasionally taking a break from the news when you feel you need it. If you’re overwhelmed, unplug for awhile and try to focus on the positive things you can accomplish and center yourself on what you actually have control over.
Furthermore, practicing mindfulness can be a very useful tool for stress management. So what does mindfulness mean? According to Neda F. Gould, PhD, Associate Director of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Anxiety Disorders Clinic and Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences:
“Mindfulness is…bringing your attention to the present moment. Much of our time is about the past and thinking about the future, and that can contribute to our distress. Our minds often latch on to worst case scenarios and catastrophes, and we really miss out on the present moment. Mindfulness is a way to build resilience. During stressful times, it is a muscle we need to build and so there are a couple of ways to build that muscle of being in the present moment. One is informal meditation or mindfulness practice and the other is formal. The formal practice will be the meditation… but informally at any point during the day, pause and bring attention back to the present moment…It turns out that if we can do that repeatedly over time, we are happier if we are in the present moment, and we're actually more productive. By focusing on the present moment, we can lower our stress and anxiety. Informally you can pause at any point during the day and just take a breath. That simple practice can turn off the stress response and start to turn on the relaxation.”
Free Library streaming video resource Kanopy has several relevant series that I recommend. First is the series Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation by the Great Courses,which promises to help you “gain a clear understanding of the essence of meditation--and how best to practice it--in 24 lessons filled with guided exercises, principles and techniques, and more.” Secondly, I recommend another Great Courses series: How to Make Stress Work for You which will allow you to “discover how to finally manage and minimize the stress in your life with these inspiring lectures. Packed with scientifically-backed behavior modifications and cognitive exercises…instructor Dr. Kimberlee Bethany Bonura…helps you build a personal stress management toolkit so you can better manage your stress response.”
I’ve been very fortunate to work with two presenters who are sharing their knowledge and experience with our library this week. On Wednesday, June 17th at 7PM, Dr. Mary Beth Mannarino, Psychologist and Professor Emerita at Chatham University, will present Nature and Wellness and You as a virtual program using Zoom. There is more and more evidence that spending time outdoors in nature is good for our health. Learn how time in Nature positively affects our well-being, and how we can use this knowledge to enhance our own and our community's health. This is presented in partnership with the Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy. You can register for her program here.
Then, on Saturday, June 20th at 1:00 PM join Andrew Eppich, LCSW, for a conversation on how to manage anxiety and stress during the COVID-19 Pandemic. During this challenging time of social distancing, focusing on self-care and your own mental health is crucial. Andrew Eppich is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been in the field of counseling and social work since 1995. He specializes in addictions, gambling addiction, dual diagnosis, GLBT issues, grief, and bereavement issues. He has expertise in group counseling for early recovery, families in recovery, and grief support. You can register for his virtual program: We’re All in this Together: Tips for Managing Anxiety and Stress During a Pandemichere.
I hope some of these suggestions and resources are helpful. So go for a walk, get some sun, and take some deep breaths. Also, remember to occasionally treat yourself! It’s OK to watch some comfort TV, eat some ice cream, or shop online once in awhile. Doing something special for yourself is always a nice pick me up and a break from the routine. It’s also essential to treat yourself with compassion and understanding. We all have our bad days and by acknowledging our own needs and feelings, and letting yourself recharge, you can then be ready to help others when the need arises. Take care.
Please join us on Saturday, June 20 from 1:00 - 2:30 pm for the following virtual program:
Managing Anxiety and Stress During a Pandemic
During this challenging time of social distancing, focusing on self-care and your own mental health is crucial. Join Andrew Eppich, LCSW, for a conversation on how to manage anxiety and stress during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Andrew Eppich is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been in the field of counseling and social work since 1995. He specializes in addictions, gambling addiction, dual diagnosis, GLBT issues, grief, and bereavement issues. He has expertise in group counseling for early recovery, families in recovery, and grief support.
The Librarian coordinating the event will email each registrant a Zoom meeting invitation approximately an hour before the start of the program. Zoom is available as a free desktop (for Windows, MacOS, and Linux Operating systems) and mobile application for Android and Apple iOS devices. Once Zoom is installed, you will be able to join the virtual Library program.