Since the beginning of November, I, like many others, have been in lockdown, living for the most part in isolation. Naturally, I have had the now normal contact through many video calls, but in-person contact with other people has been virtually non-existent. Since I live alone, the only contact with another living human being for weeks on end have been people in grocery stores, which has led to a great deal of time alone with my thoughts.
As someone who meditates regularly, I am normally quite good at managing my thinking mind. Still, with so much time alone, I realise that the mind can quickly and unexpectedly take me in a direction of thought that puts me in a negative state. More than ever, I realise the importance of developing good thinking habits. Doing so can be difficult when every conversation I have with people worldwide begins with a discussion about Covid 19. While these conversations allow people to vent their frustrations and struggles related to the current situation, constantly talking about what is wrong, only fuels more negative thinking. The same can be said of daily news updates. Although it may seem important to stay informed, we have become inundated with bad news leaving us with a mind full of negative thoughts.
Rates of depression and anxiety have grown along with the number of cases of Covid, reflecting not only health concerns but also the mental strain as we live with the current conditions. People are concerned about their financial security as jobs and businesses are affected. Even if financial concerns are not affecting you, there is isolation and limited interaction with friends and extended family. For some, physical contact is also reduced, and this lack of affection and human interaction only adds to the situation’s mental stress.
Like most life problems, there is no amount of complaining and commiserating that will change the situation or solve these problems. In fact, the opposite is true. If we are going to navigate these times successfully, it will not be just a matter of our physical health but also good mental habits. Limiting your exposure to negative information is very helpful. Showing empathy and compassion to others and focusing on gratitude for the good things you have is extremely helpful. When I encourage people to meditate and teach them meditation techniques, I remind them that we do not control whether thoughts come into our minds, but we can control which thoughts we focus on. In these challenging times, it is essential to guide your thoughts. To help you achieve this, limit your exposure to negative influences and take control of what you focus your attention on. This is a habit that will help you beyond the current pandemic.