Our wellbeing consultant, Jen Wood, shares her thoughts here about how mindfulness can help us at difficult times.

"As we start to contemplate the easing of lockdown, there is still a huge amount of uncertainty about what the ‘new normal’ will look like. I am aware that there are people who are enjoying their furlough leave in the garden, and others who are working extremely hard on the front line of healthcare, education and more. Things which we took for granted have changed. I tried to go to the bank this morning, and faced an hour-long queue, so I turned around and went home. We are also told about how Covid-19 is impacting the nations mental health, but we don’t know what the likely impact will be.

Having a close family member unwell in a care home (who has fortunately recovered), I experienced ‘Covid stress’ quite intensely. What helped me was to practice some of my mindfulness skills, and I would like to share some of these tips with you.

Mindfulness tip 1 - Feel your feelings

I often say to clients ‘what we resist persists.’ If we can allow ourselves to feel a bit of the discomfort, it can pass more quickly. If we try not to feel our difficult feelings, they tend to hang about. It’s normal not to want to accept things that we don’t like, especially if we really want them to be different. However, the first step towards change is acceptance. Try allowing yourself to feel the difficulty for a moment, perhaps putting your hand on you’re your heart, and saying to yourself, ‘This will pass’.

Mindfulness tip 2 - Practice compassion

The words that we say to ourselves are the most important words we hear. At the same time, we are often much more critical with ourselves than we are of others. I know I am, and when I’m stressed, I’m definitely harsher with myself. So how can we change? Imagine that you’re talking to your best friend, and imagine what you would say to them? I bet it will be much nicer. Why not give it a go?

Mindfulness tip 3 - Use STOPP

As soon as you start to panic or feel bad, imagine a stop sign (see it, hear the word or both). Then follow the steps below and act rather than react.

S = stop as soon as you can

T = take one slow, deep breath

O = observe. Ask yourself ‘what am I thinking and feeling in my body?’ What am I focusing on? What am I reacting to?

P = pull back and take the helicopter view. Is there another way of looking at this? What’s the bigger picture? How important will this be in a week / month / year?

P = practice what works, and only act when you have considered what the consequences of your actions might be.

If we can accept ourselves, and the events in our lives, and look after ourselves, we can build our resilience and experience more wellbeing. How can you look after yourself today?"

(Image credit: thedecider.org.uk)

Jen Wood is an emotional wellbeing coach, therapist and mindfulness teacher with 20 years’ experience. She is also our wellbeing consultant at The Yard. Jen is offering weekly bite-sized videos sharing mindfulness techniques and wellbeing tools for our members (check your inbox). For more information about Jen, visit jenwoodwellbeing.com.