Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/13/2020 --The COVID-19 pandemic is causing more than physical sickness. Repercussions of the pandemic have been felt economically, socially, and mentally. Uncertain times can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.
Anxiety, by definition, is a cognitive or mental state that may occur when emotional responses to perceived threats are not regulated. Those nagging, emotional, unproductive worries about the past or the future can also cause stress. And as studies have shown, stress weakens the immune system – which is the last thing anyone needs right now.
"We all need to de-stress, connect, and relax - now more than ever," said Chanda Vaniman, Exercise Physiologist and Certified Yoga Instructor at the St. George Intermountain LiVe Well Center. "Mindfulness is an evidence-based stress reduction technique. Mindfulness as part of daily meditation is a way to tap into our own strength and connect to the moment."
Mindfulness strengthens a person's cognitive ability to regulate emotions. It is a means to train the mind to become more capable, focused, and clear thus allowing for the mind to make better adaptive decisions to difficult situations. Mindfulness is a way to deal with distracting worries without giving them the power cause great anxiety.
"Mindfulness is a subject taught in many of our Intermountain LiVe Well Centers," said Vaniman. "Participants learn how to listen to themselves, how to sit with a feeling until it dissolves or neutralizes, how to take deep calming breaths, and how to be mentally present in the moment. Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and relieve chronic pain."
Vaniman said day-to-day life gives many opportunities to be mindfully present in the moment. For example, Vaniman suggested practicing mindfulness for a few minutes when first waking up in the morning.
"Before jumping out of bed or grabbing your phone, take a moment to mindfully connect with yourself," Vaniman said. "Stay in bed, get comfortable (a corpse yoga pose with feet open) and take a minute to be present in the moment and breathe deeply. Notice what your senses are perceiving -- sound, touch, sight. Check in with your body, starting with your toes and working up to the top of the head. Notice how each part feels in that moment. Practice keeping your mind in the moment."
According to Vaniman, mindfulness can be practiced throughout the day in whatever you are doing. The mind has a tendency to constantly wander and worry unproductively. Mindfulness can be practiced while doing dishes, taking a walk, doing yoga, or talking on the phone with a friend. Being aware and being in each moment reduces stress.
"There are many avenues for mindfulness and meditation available today," said Vaniman. "There are apps and online videos for guided meditation. Yoga, or any mindful movement, is also a great way to practice mindfulness. Group classes are also highly effective."
As we train our minds to become more focused and clear and learn to accept and regulate emotions in a productive way, we become more mindful and able to savor each moment. Being mindful is about being in the moment, taking a slow deep breath, and knowing that everything is OK in that very moment.
"We need to remember that we are all feeling like the world has turned upside down," Vaniman said. "We all feel isolated. It can be frustrating to stay at home every day. We are all frightened of a very real danger that we cannot see. These are challenging times. As we learn to manage and maneuver our own personal stress, we will be able to help others reduce their stress and anxiety."
Intermountain Healthcare's LiVe Well Centers offer many classes, both in person and online, to help individuals live the healthiest lives possible. For a list of current classes, go to intermountainhealthcare.org/calendar. Other articles and tips are available at the Intermountain Healthcare Blog.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see Intermountain Healthcare or the Intermountain Healthcare Blog.