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Coping with Quarantine: Savor the Little Things

While some states are reopening, many others are not and normalcy may still be a long way off for many of us. The strategy this week can help us cope with the pandemic, but it will also prove helpful for improving quality of life in general. The skill is simple, but builds on previous articles posted about mindfulness. Review previous articles on mindfulness here.

The goal is to pick 1-3 daily activities that you routinely engage in and practice doing them mindfully each day. Here's a quick refresher on doing something mindfully:

  • Direct your attention to the activity. Think of your attention as a wandering search light - every time it wanders away from the activity, gently bring it back without beating yourself up.

  • Focus all of your attention to the activity, participating fully and one-mindedly. No multitasking!

  • Attempt to cultivate an attitude of curiosity, openness, and non-judgement to the activity and your experience.

We spend so much of our life in a state quiet opposite to mindfulness. While this is not a bad thing (automaticity helps us do much of life more efficiently), we often miss out on the richness of experience open to us in daily living. We end up living our lives in a sort of fast-forward mode, longing and waiting for the next "bigger, better, more enjoyable" experience that is not here-now. Sadly, we can spend huge portions of our time like this and lose out. Practicing mindfulness of the mundane brings us back to the here-now where life is actually lived. So pick 1-3 routine activities and set some reminders for you to do them mindfully each day. Try it out for a week or two and see what happens.

Suggestions for daily activities to be done mindfully: brushing teeth, showering, cleaning the dishes, eating a meal, drinking coffee or tea, going for a walk around the neighborhood, putting your clothes away, eating dessert, cleaning, watching the sunset, listening to the wind/rain/birds, getting dressed, anything that is relational (involving another person).

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