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5 Ways to Stay Mindful When You’re Sick

woman meditating

Serious illness brings a whole host of other problems beyond your symptoms. Wait times for appointments, unpleasant hospital stays, upset loved ones, plans put on hold—the list goes on, and it all builds up to a lot of stress. While meditating might not seem appealing when you’re going through a tough time, it could be one of the best habits to pick up, as it can help you relax, keep your mind focused on your goals and build a positive outlook.

1. Use What You Can

One advantage of meditation is that it can be as simple as focusing on your breath, so you can meditate in almost any circumstance. When you’re feeling unwell, however, even breathing may be difficult. To achieve the peace of mind that comes with meditation, try focusing on parts of your body that aren’t in pain as you take breaths that are comfortable for you in the moment. You may also focus on a rhythmic image in your mind, such as a candle flame.

2. Release the Tension

Even though meditation is typically associated with the mind, it may also result in positive physical effects. When you’re in pain, you may have more tension and stress in your body. By mindfully focusing on where your body carries that stress, and consciously relaxing the surrounding muscles, you can ease that tension and release stress. Meditation may also be a good alternative for other relaxation techniques, like yoga or massage, that may not be current options.

3. Do What Works for You

The word “meditation” may conjure images of sitting cross-legged with perfect posture, but meditation can be accomplished in any position. If you’re required to sit and wait for an appointment, use the opportunity to meditate and de-stress. You can take a mindful few minutes relaxing in your favorite recliner or in bed with a pillow. Even the train or a park bench offers an opportunity to close your eyes and focus your mind.

4. Find Acceptance

A study published by the New York Academy of Sciences showed that when people get upset about their pain, it can actually make the perception of the pain worse. To help ease pain, try practicing mindfulness meditation by accepting that the pain and discomfort is present, without wishing for it to go away or otherwise taking a stance toward it. This type of practice could be a helpful tool to employ alongside other pain-management techniques.

5. Stay Productive

Being sick may mean confinement to a bed or waiting for long periods of time to receive treatment. This can be frustrating, and perhaps feel like wasted time. However, meditation is a learned skill that improves with experience and can be done anywhere. Instead of allowing your mind to fret during times of waiting or confinement, consider this an opportunity to improve your meditation skills—and observe and congratulate your improvement in the practice.

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