As parents, we generally worry about everything. But COVID-19 has bought with it a whole heap of new concerns. But learning the key to practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing.
New research has revealed that 45% of parents with children aged 18 years and under think COVID-19 has impacted their parenting role, with 26% saying their role has changed for the better, while 19% admitted it’s been for the worse.
To further understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on Aussie parents, Panadol conducted new research looking at how parents have been affected by COVID-19 restrictions. With families around the nation spending more time at home together than ever before, 3 in 4 parents say they’ve felt more connected to their family as a result.
The Impact Of COVID-19
Despite this increased connection, many parents are worried about the impact that COVID-19 has had on their children. In fact, 71% of parents with children under 18 say they’re worried about the impact that COVID-19 has had on their child’s education, and a further 72% of mothers and 64% of fathers are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their child’s education in the future.
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In order to help Aussie parents better cope with the unique pressures of this time, Panadol has partnered with the app-based meditation program, Smiling Mind, to introduce Mindful Month with Smiling Mind. It’s a 30-day challenge to encourage Aussies to practice mindfulness to improve their wellbeing – better attention, memory, regulation of emotions and self-awareness. People can join the app at any time during the month of June to take part.
Leanne Hall, Clinical Psychology and Therapist, shares her top tips about practicing mindfulness.
How does mindfulness impact physical and mental wellbeing?
It improves and enhances self-awareness, making it easier to manage and work through emotions. Often, we get ‘stuck’ in a negative mood state, and a degree of self-awareness helps us to shift through the negative state to a more positive place. Mindfulness helps to reduce stress and decrease the effects of stress on the body – for example, a reduction in blood pressure and a decreased risk of heart disease.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Mindfulness helps us regulate our emotions which in turn reduces anxiety, improves mood, improves sleep, and increases cognition. It also reduces blood pressure and can ease chronic pain.
What seems to be the biggest obstacle for people to practice mindfulness? And tips to overcome them?
Feeling like they do not have time, feeling a little intimidated, and thinking they don’t know how. Some people try it and become disheartened because they experience their mind wandering. It is important to understand that mindfulness is a ‘skill’, and the mind is designed to wander.
The benefits will not be immediate, but after a week or two of practicing a few times a week – you will feel calmer and less ‘foggy’. Start with five minutes. Observe your mind, and let it wander where it wants. Just pay attention to where it is going and gently bring it back to your breathing (don’t judge it). You can practice anywhere – the shower, lounge, bed, in your office, eating lunch, walking the dog. It is about teaching your mind to be present, no matter where you are. The best way to overcome obstacles is to set realistic expectations and simply begin.
What is the best advice you can offer for people under mental and physical stress during a time like COVID-19?
Be gentle. We are ALL experiencing stress/anxiety to some degree; it is completely normal. Given these circumstances are out of our control, it is important to reduce expectations of yourself and others. Being in social isolation means we tend to put a lot of expectations onto our partners. Yet, if we use empathy – and try and understand the pressures that our partner is experiencing, it diffuses potential conflict, and allows for compassionate problem solving.
It is ok to not feel productive, to sleep in, and feel like you are not yourself. Talk to loved ones, allow yourself to be vulnerable and have real conversations about the difficulties you are experiencing. We are suffering in a ‘collective’ sense and this means that people are much more likely to be able to relate to what you are going through. Physical health is equally important – sleep, nutrition and exercise are your 3 pillars of health, and together help to create a healthy immune system.
If someone you know is struggling, what is the best way you can help them?
Listen without judgement. We can’t ‘fix’ what’s happening around us, but we can connect through our suffering. This is important. If you have not heard from a loved one – reach out to them. Make time for real conversations – Zoom, Skype…anything where you can see and hear them. And as soon as you can catch up for a coffee or walk in person – get the diary out and start making plans.
Join Mindful Month with Smiling Mind, Supported by Panadol.
Have you ever practiced mindfulness? Tell us in the comments below.