Coping with COVID-19: Practical Mindfulness Strategies

By Liz Chamberlain Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist 

With information and recommendations changing almost by the hour, it can be very upsetting to manage the uncertainty and worry that is affecting all of us daily. So, what are some of the best ways to manage the stress and worry of the coronavirus? How can we practice mindfulness during the unprecedented restrictions we’re facing? 

Acknowledge the Difficult Feelings

Mindfulness strategy: acknowledge difficult feelings

Many of us find ways to escape unpleasant feelings that are difficult to tolerate by ignoring or suppressing. Instead, pay attention to your body. Are certain parts of your body tense, tight or heavy? When you physically locate the unpleasant feelings, approach it with the reassurance that this feeling is temporary. Then try saying the following:

1. Be honest: This is difficult; This is scary; This is worrisome; Fear is here.

2. Follow by: Everyone in the world is feeling this right now; I’m not alone; This uncertainty is what connects me with others right now.

3. Finally, try giving yourself a reassuring physical gesture. It can be placing your hand over your heart, holding your arms or hands, or hugging yourself and say: May I be safe; May I be healthy; May I accept my feelings as they are right now; May I begin to accept myself as I am in this difficult time.

Take Care of Yourself and Others

Mindfulness strategy: take care of yourself and others

Learn to focus on the important things and doing the following mindfulness practices:

1. Ask yourself: What do I need right now? Even if you don’t have an answer, just asking the question can give you comfort.

2. Limit your news intake by watching one cycle of the news 1-2 times per day.

3. Go outside for a walk, and mindfully use your senses. Feel the sun, observe the changing sky, feel the temperature of the air, and hear the sounds around you. Describe what you’re taking in through your senses to soften the chatter in your head. 

4. Look for ways to help others. Virtually checking in with elderly, neighbors, or health care workers or deliver needed items while practicing social distancing and other safety measures.

5. Extend phrases of kindness to others: May others stay healthy; may others stay safe, or may others have peace.

For more guidance, please visit the following websites:

American Psychological Association Help Sheet on Coping with Social Distancing:

CU Department of Psychiatry Help and Resources for Campus

CDC Guidelines for Handling Stress of Coronavirus

Practice Mindfulness through our Mindful Monday series

Anschutz Health and Wellness Center