Mindfulness in Times of Uncertainty
- April 17, 2020
By: Brent Diers, LCSW, LCFS Director of Clinical Services
If you’re like me, you’ve been wandering through all of those zones in this graphic – back and forth – in the midst of these challenging times. The feelings of fear, uncertainty and being out of control we all feel right now are familiar and omnipresent for the youth we serve in foster care. Our counselors are experts in this area and have developed several evidence-based tools that support our youth to learn and grow in the midst of traumatic experiences, and they can be useful for all of us right now.
One approach that we use extensively, and that I have found particularly useful in the current environment is that of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a therapeutic exercise that focuses your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It comes from meditation and uses practices, such as guided imagery and breathing methods, to get the body and mind both focused and relaxed. There is much evidence that these can have a positive effect on things, such as stress, anxiety and depression. There are some great mindfulness exercises on the internet that can be really helpful.
Sounds simple. The problem is that we get so caught up in the stress and stimulation of these chronically agitating times that we really struggle with finding the time and space to engage in mindfulness practices. I had that experience early on in this crisis. I had a video conference with a large group of youth leaders with lived trauma experiences from across the country that was devoted to developing responses to the rapidly evolving health crisis. We had one hour and many people with great things to contribute. But the youth organizers of the video conference began the meeting with a very long mindfulness exercise. My initial thought was that they were wasting precious time that could be used by the experts to share vital information. But then I got caught up in the mindfulness exercise, and, along with everyone else began feeling grounded and centered, precious feelings in the tumult of the early days of the pandemic. So, listen to the wisdom of our youth and find time for mindfulness.
Using this chart as a reminder to be aware of how you are feeling and being mindful of who you want to be in light of the crisis can support being in the learning and growth zones during this challenging time.