Saturday, March 14, 2020

Lifestyle: The Importance of Mental Hygiene During COVID 19

With all that's going on in the world right now, I've been feeling like everyone else- shocked, sad, uncomfortable, worried about the global impact of COVID-19.

I'm sure we all know by now the preventative measures that we can take to avoid spreading this virus that is harmful, especially to the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.

  • wash your hands
  • avoid handshakes/hugs as greetings
  • take some social distance and stay home
  • avoid large gatherings and non-essential events
  • cancel international travel or self-isolate for 14 days upon your return if you do travel
Physically, I think we are covered for awhile. But what about mentally? Emotionally?

There's no denying that during this time of uncertainty, emotional well-being is just as important as hygiene. 

Let's Talk About Our Mental Hygiene

I decided to check in with my friend, Dr. Bhante Saranapala, also known as the Urban Buddhist Monk, to hear his thoughts on how to stay grounded and zen during this global health crisis.

Bhante is a spiritual guide as well as a public speaker. We met when I attended his Meditation Retreat at the West End Buddhist Temple back in 2016. It was an incredible experience that I highly recommend if you are looking to learn a little more about meditation. You can find out more about my experience here: Meditation Retreat

Here I'm sharing Five Takeaways from our Conversation 

Shift Your Focus

The situation is beyond our control but our actions are in our control. Don't focus on fear. Focus instead on Prevention (follow the advice of doctors),  Elimination (of negative thoughts and unkind actions), Cultivation (of positive thoughts and emotions) and Preservation (keep your immunity up by having faith and channeling your energy to do positive things).

Everything in the World is Impermanent

Understand that this is not permanent. We have seen similar situations in the past and we will likely see them again in the future. This situation is only here for the time being. Everything in life comes, goes and flows. Life itself is all about impermanence. This too will pass.

Mindfulness Changes Everything
Mindfulness is key. Being cautious and aware of what's happening in the moment will help prevent further issues down the line. It's mindfulness that is allowing countries to take preventative measures, mindfulness on the media's part to share positive stories and mindfulness on society's part to do what we can to reduce the impact of this disease. Be mindful of the information you read and how much you take in- if it's affecting your state of mind, or making you feel stressed, limit your consumption.


When you are anxious, your breathing becomes shallow. Something simple like concentrating and taking 5 deep, slow breaths can help you feel more present and allows you to stop worrying because you are concentrating on the breathing. It also sends more oxygen to your body, boosting your immunity. 

If you don't know where to start with meditation, you can do what Bhante calls "loving-kindness" meditation. Send positive energy out into the universe and say something peaceful to yourself.

His suggestion: 
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be free from sickness
May I be free from pain
May I be free from danger
May I be free from sadness
May I be free from fear

Once you've meditated on your own wellbeing, Bhante suggests repeating the affirmations for someone you love. Then a friend, a neighbour -then the world. Imagine if every person did this one simple thing - the entire universe would be vibrating at a different level. A feeling of peacefulness would replace the feeling of stress. 

Cultivate Compassion

We are in this together as humankind. As much as the situation is horrible, it also unites us globally. It's so important during times like this to show compassion to one another. Buy only what you need from the stores, check in with elderly friends and neighbours, put the safety of society as a whole before what is "convenient". We are here together and will need to lean on each other to get through this difficult time as well. 

Hope these thoughts resonate with you as you try to navigate your way through all the worries, challenges and negative images we are surrounded with right now. 

Just say it with me: This too shall pass. 


Thanks so much to Dr. Bhante Saranapala for taking the time to share his thoughts.

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