The year 2020 is likely to go down as one of the most challenging in recent memory. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed over 100,000 Americans and left the economy reeling and many without work.
More recently, protests and riots have erupted across the nation over the killing of George Floyd while in police custody, leading to unprecedented backlash and even some pressure to defund police departments.
All of this has occurred while stay-at-home orders have forced millions to remain primarily in their homes for weeks and months on end, sometimes with little to no direct contact with friends, family, and loved ones outside their household.
The constant uncertainty has left many people struggling to remain positive says La’Tesha Sampson, the President and Founder of Great Joy Counseling and Consulting Services. Self-reported cases of anxiety and depression have jumped considerably as we struggle to adapt to our new reality.
Dr. Sampson, who is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and published author believes that facing and overcoming challenges like those we are dealing with now provides an opportunity for accelerated personal growth.
In particular, she says it’s a rare chance to develop some of the following skills that can bolster your peace of mind and level of contentment in every moment, regardless of external events.
Meditation comes in many forms, all of which have displayed remarkable results when it comes to lowering anxiety and boosting feelings of positivity. If you don’t know where to begin, La’Tesha Sampson recommends starting with loving kindness meditation, during which you cultivate feelings of love and compassion for yourself and others. Studies have found this form of meditation can boost emotional intelligence, decrease anxiety and anger, and help smooth over marital issues.
Practicing mindfulness has never been more important than now, when our days seem to blur together into a repetitious slog of the same few media topics and looking at the same walls of our living space. Mindfulness teaches us to keep autopilot off and better appreciate the incredible gift of consciousness and awareness that we possess.
Consciously breathing probably seems rather unnecessary, considering it can be done unconsciously. Our unconscious breathing tends to be short and shallow though, which sends stress signals to our brain and lowers our white blood cell levels. Taking a few minutes to practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing confers some major benefits according to LaTesha Sampson, including lowering our heart rate, blood pressure, and stress. It’s a practice you use anytime, anywhere, and also helps bring you into a more mindful state.
Social Media Usage
Lastly, social media has been a great tool for staying connected and monitoring the latest news to try and make sense of the world. However, too much media doom and gloom and excessive exposure to the toxic vitriol commonly found on social media can quickly warp your perception of reality.
La’Tesha Sampson recommends setting limits on your social media time and to use that time with greater purpose by actively seeking out the information or posts you’re interested in while avoiding all of the surrounding distractions like comments, ads, and other posts.
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Written by: Dr. La'Tesha Sampson