We have been living in a global pandemic now for a while and it is having an obvious impact on how we feel emotionally. Maybe you have experienced that weird sensation when you are standing next to a family member and realize you are socially distancing yourself without realizing it? Or maybe you have been sad or depressed that you can’t see loved ones who are considered “at risk”. Our brain can play a lot of not-so-fun games with our emotional well-being during times of crisis, upheaval and great uncertainty. The good news is that we have a few tools in our toolbox for practicing mindfulness when things become too overwhelming.

Mindfulness and Meditation

If you have a heightened sense of anxiety right now, consider yourself in good company. As numbers of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 rise, so does the level of collective anxiety and stress. Some days, it is hard to know what to think and you can forget about imagining what the future will hold, since everyone has a different prediction.

When emotions become overwhelming, it is helpful to remember a simple acronym: R.A.I.N. Created by insight meditation teacher Michele McDonald and popularized even more by Tara Brach in her book Radical Acceptance, this simple practice can make a world of difference for those who are experiencing big emotions.

If you would like to try your hand at R.A.I.N, here are the steps:

R-Recognition: Recognize what is happening inside of you in this moment. Check to see which emotions are arising or present. Consider this an acknowledgement that there is something you are feeling right now.

A-Allow: Allow life to be just as it is. Allow any emotions that are arising within, accept them with no judgement towards yourself or the situation. It can help to breathe deeply here, maybe even softening your abdomen or chest on your exhales.

I-Investigate: Look into the situation with a gentle, curious attention. Try not to overanalyze, but instead to ask yourself questions and then feel for the answers in your body. For example, you can ask “Are these feelings familiar? Something that I have felt at different times in my life?”, “Where are my feelings strongest about this in my body?”, or “How does this part want me to be with it?”.

N-Nurture: Offer yourself compassion, maybe place a hand on your heart, or think of something you can do that will feel nourishing to you. Spend some time here, resting, before you move on to other things.

Now that you have a tool for dealing with overwhelm, practice it the next time your emotions, stress, or anxiety are getting the best of you. The more we allow and accept our full range of human emotions, the more resilient we will become as families, communities and a collective.