- Erin Gleason Alvarez
How Does Mindfulness Lead to Healing and Promote Hope?
Hi there negotiators,
As Women’s History Month comes around again, I can’t help but think about the 2022 theme, “women providing health, promoting hope,” and analyze how mindfulness relates to it. This theme was meant as a tribute to caregivers and front-line workers who dedicated their lives to helping others during the pandemic. But it’s also a recognition of the way women have provided healing and inspired hope throughout history.
This year’s theme speaks to the many struggles women have faced, including stress, burnout, and exhaustion. Although mindfulness cannot be the only solution for issues faced throughout this challenging year, it is a way to give yourself hope and keep moving forward.
Mental and Physical
The pandemic has been mentally and physically strenuous on many of us, but particularly so for women, with more women reportedly experiencing anxiety, stress, and depression as a symptom of the pandemic than men. These strains can be partly attributed to the stress women deal with regarding family responsibilities. For instance, women in families with children under the age of 18 experience more anxiety and depression due to the pandemic since they have had to deal with the stress of schools opening and closing. Many mothers also had to step in and act as teachers to homeschool their children, work, and take care of household tasks.
Women were also economically impacted by the pandemic since they make up 70% of the health and social care workforce sectors. These fields include hospitality, food service, and personal care. The slow introduction of vaccinations for children was another significant factor that led to women being forced out of the labor force. Women who were worried about the safety of their children had to decide between staying home and not earning income and risking their child’s health. Even the women who were initially considered fortunate because their sector was remote were negatively affected. Women who worked from home began to take up more household roles and chores, which also led to a decrease of women in the workforce.
How Does Mindfulness Help Ease These Issues?
Mindfulness can serve a step towards much-needed healing from the stress and burnout that many people have experienced over the past two years. By way of background, mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of complete awareness. Becoming aware of your thoughts and emotions, recognizing patterns in the way you interpret certain situations, and learning to respond - instead of reacting - are all examples of ways mindfulness can help reduce the impact of daily stressors.
Simply put, mindfulness helps to retrain the brain to take charge of your emotions in a healthy way.
Demonstrating the importance of mindfulness as we navigate the pandemic, Google Scholar demonstrates over 16,000 articles on the topic of mindfulness and pandemic-related stress. One study found that increased mindfulness practices were associated with lower pandemic-related depression and anxiety. Likewise, a frequent mindfulness practice was found to predict demonstrative improvements in depression, anxiety, and stress.
Mindfulness techniques can be incorporated as part of your daily routine to help ease stress, regain focus, decompress, and minimize mental distractions. One way to start incorporating mindfulness into your days is to practice quieting your mind. You can do this through a few minutes of meditation either independently or with the help of an app that features recorded meditations. If you are unsure how to meditate, you can begin by journaling or mind mapping, which helps you release thoughts circling in your mind and organize your ideas.
These forms of practicing mindfulness can help to start healing from challenges faced as a result of the pandemic. Mindfulness is not a panacea. But any small step we can each take to promote more calm and focus in this world is a good one.