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Why try mindfulness?

Yoga and meditation have bonus benefits during the pandemic.

Article Author: Katie McPherson

Article Date:

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Almost a year into the coronavirus pandemic — and living, working and going to school from home — it’s understandable if you feel like the walls of your house are closing in on you. Maybe you miss your gym sessions and dinners with friends, or just crave the companionship of seeing family on the weekends. Sure, it will just take some time, and lots of vaccines, for the world to return to normal, but there are some simple exercises you can do to help you feel better in the meantime.

Mindful meditation is an easy way to boost your mental well-being at home. The American Psychological Association (APA) states mindfulness can help you reduce stress, focus less on scary thoughts or situations, and even increase your immune system’s strength.

“Mindful meditation can help you feel more in tune with your mind and body during an otherwise draining and uncertain time,” said Kal Kseib, DPsych, a consultant for Team Member Health & Wellness at Baptist Health.

If you’d like to try mindfulness, Kseib recommends:

  • Starting small: “Take opportunities to look around, notice and get curious about the finer details in everyday things. One way of practicing this is to look closely at your hands and notice the intricate detail in a way you haven’t before.”
  • Listening to the “whispers”: “Notice whenever your mind whispers a helpful idea to you, like, ‘Maybe I could take a walk right now.’ These daily whispers seem like trivial opportunities and are easily ignored. Act on them.”
  • Prioritizing principles over goals: “Goals are fine, but they can often add to an already full to-do list. Instead, practice being intentional about the way you want to be in any given situation. For example, try switching focus to the intention of being present, rather than the goal of finishing the dishes.”
  • Avoiding overthinking: “If overthinking is an issue, try an active, engaging form of distraction. If your mind tends to wander while watching TV, choose a puzzle or brain game instead.”

Danielle Chavez, MPH, CPT, senior wellness coach with Baptist Health, said yoga is a helpful tool for supporting both your mental and physical health.

“During the pandemic, yoga is good for the mental and emotional aspects of health. We’re doing a lot of isolating and not socializing like we normally would. It causes a lot of stress, and we’re seeing more people experiencing anxiety and depression. Yoga can help relieve that,” she said.

As for your physical needs, if you’re not getting out and exercising as much, a little in-home stretching session might do you some good. This is especially important for folks working from home, as it can help alleviate the aches and pains of any not-so-ergonomic desk setup you have going on.

“Yoga improves your health and flexibility,” said Chavez. “Especially while working from home and not having a proper workstation or desk, my shoulders and neck started tightening up so badly I could hardly lift my arms. Stretching regularly can improve your posture and help reduce that pain.”

Follow along with Chavez in the guided stretching routine below to loosen tight muscles and release a little stress.

Want to learn more about how mindfulness and yoga can improve your health? Sign up for a free wellness screening, including a consultation with a wellness coach, at the Baptist Y Healthy Living Center closest to you.

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