Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought upon unprecedented shifts in our behavioural paradigm. Navigating the uncertainties of maintaining an online-offline balance, especially when university and social interaction may primarily be digitally based, means there is a lot of screen time for our brains to process, and not a lot of time processing our in-person surroundings, thoughts, and feelings.
“While our brains adapt to new, unchartered territory, we have been forced to accept a new relationship with our technology.”
While our brains adapt to new, unchartered territory, we have been forced to accept a new relationship with our technology. WebX, FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype are our new technological safe spaces – online chats with friends bring comfort, familiarity, and social security (in the community sense).
This strange social dynamic is certainly an isolating one. Mindfulness practises can centre and categorise our feelings and frustrations around this temporary reality, and alchemise these stressors into motivators and positive thoughts.
Therefore, developing healthy coping mechanisms can help us manage stress and anxiety exacerbated by the pandemic. These mechanisms will be our mindfulness practises.
“In the age of Covid, where we are constantly checking updates and information on the ongoing pandemic, the following can bring you back to the current reality.”
The Building Blocks of “Daily Rituals”: Mindfulness Techniques
The practises below are aimed at helping align your body and mind with the present moment. In the age of Covid, where we are constantly checking updates and information on the ongoing pandemic, and blurring the boundaries between our online academic duties and digital personal life, the following can bring you back to the current reality:
- Breathwork: In dropping into ourselves with deep, calculated breaths, we activate our parasympathetic nervous system and heighten our awareness back to the present moment. Scientifically, the activation of this part of our brain releases rest and relaxation hormones – our ‘reset’ to reach homeostasis.
How to: Inhale on the count of 8 seconds, exhale on the count of 4. Repeat this 10 times or until calm.
2. Meditation: Breathwork is fundamental to all meditation practises. When we meditate, we breathe in with the awareness of our surroundings, enabling us to let go of thoughts that cloud the mind. When an unwanted thought enters your meditation space, acknowledge it, and let it go in a healthy release.
3. Quick Yoga Practise: Yoga Asana is the type of yoga you’ve most likely practised if you have ever booked a ‘flow’ class. For those completely new to yoga and the slew of benefits that accompany it, 10 minutes is all you need to begin releasing endorphins, an immediate mood booster.
“Shifting our attention towards current thoughts, feelings, and sensations can help expel the negative energy around Covid-19 that we may have internalised.”
In the Digital Age, we need to bring back our awareness
With a rise in cases, Dublin is in a precarious position where it may, or may not, re-enter lockdown in the near future. Regardless of external events, shifting our attention towards current thoughts, feelings, and sensations can help expel the negative energy around Covid-19 that we may have internalised.
We have the power to reprogram our reactions to circumstances that normally might have thrown us into a mental spiral. Thus, cherishing time off-line, and instilling these daily mindfulness practises amidst the pandemic may serve as the gateway to creating a balance between our best digital selves, and the present moment.
On a final note, mindfulness is just one approach to looking after our mental health during this time of great uncertainty. Please reach out to College’s Student Counselling Service (SCS) if you require additional support.
The SCS is a free service that is available to all students, offering one-to-one counselling, wellbeing workshops, and online support programs. These services will be available online at the start of college.
The Counselling Office can be reached at (01) 896 1407 and emergency appointments can be booked through [email protected]