Struggling to Deal with Your New Normal? Mindful Acceptance is Key

By Nikki Harper

Staff Writer for Wake Up World

For many of us around the world, life feels like it’s been put in a blender. As countries across the globe struggle to react to the covid-19 pandemic, everything has changed. Adjustments to life which would have seemed unthinkable just a few short weeks ago – remember February, anyone? Those were the days! – are now looming and apparently inescapable.

Depending on where you live, you may be facing travel and transport restrictions, curfews or lockdowns. Your shops may be closed, or you may be struggling to find what you need in the store. Your kids may be home from school for the foreseeable future, anxious and restless themselves and needing your help. You may be having to work from home yourself, or perhaps you’re a keyworker on the frontlines, facing exhaustion. If you run a small business, your livelihood may be on the line. If your job is low paid or insecure, you may be worried about how you’re going to pay the rent or the mortgage or the bills for the next several months, and of course, you’re worried about your vulnerable loved ones.

Change of any kind stresses us out. We’re hardwired that way, because our very survival once depended upon being hyper-aware of our changing circumstances, able to adapt to danger and to react to the unpredictable.

Enforced change, on such a huge scale, backed by an undercurrent of fear, stresses us all out probably beyond the kind of stress we’ve experienced before. The good news, however, is that mindfulness can help to ease the stress – and you don’t need to have practiced it before to feel the benefits, either.

A study published in January in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that mindfulness was effective in reducing both physical pain and negative emotions such as fear or anxiety. The study, carried out at Yale university, saw participants undergoing brain scans while being exposed to pain in the form of high heat on the forearm, and while being exposed to negative images. Participants had never practiced mindfulness before and were given only a 20-minute introduction to its concepts.

Remarkably, the study found that brain scans for the participants in the mindfulness group reacted to high heat on the forearm just as it if were a normal temperature. Similarly, those employing mindfulness reported significantly lower levels of negative emotions during the image tests, compared to the control group. Importantly, brain scans showed reduced activity in areas associated with pain and negative emotions. These areas are not in the prefrontal cortex, and so were not caused by any conscious choices or decisions made by the participants; the reactions could not have been faked.

How is this relevant to our currently shaken up lives?

Well, it suggests that even if you have never practiced mindfulness before, you can very quickly learn to reap its benefits.

The first step comes with acceptance – accept that your situation is stressful, largely beyond your control and likely to last for some considerable time.

The next step is to focus only on the present moment. Let go of what has gone before, and what might happen in the future. Focus on where you are and what you are doing right here and right now, calmly and with acceptance.

Mindful acceptance means not struggling against the change, or desperately wishing it away. Acknowledge your feelings of fear or anxiety or irritation or impatience and acknowledge to yourself that this is not easy. It’s not going to be easy, for some time, but there’s a certain power which lies within accepting that and treating it as your new normal.

If you don’t have a great deal of time, try this quick and easy introduction to mindfulness, which will get you up and running with this concept in minutes. If you have more time, try a free online mindfulness course like this one, which will show you how to embed mindfulness into your daily life.

During this exceptionally stressful period, anything which helps you to stay calm and to successfully and happily live in the new normal has to be worthwhile – and as the Yale study shows, you’ll see the benefits almost immediately.

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About the author:

Nikki Harper is a spiritualist writer, astrologer, and editor for Wake Up World. She writes about divination, astrology, mediumship and spirituality at Questionology: Astrology and Divination For the Modern World where you can also find out more about her work as a freelance astrologer and her mind-body-spirit writing and editing services. Nikki also runs a spiritualist centre in North Lincs, UK, hosting weekly mediumship demonstrations and a wide range of spiritual development courses and workshops.

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