Prioritizing Mental Health and Mindfulness in a Global Pandemic

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Stressed out? Tired? Need a break? I think for all of us, the answer right now is a resounding “hell yes”. Let’s be honest, quarantine is rough. It’s nothing to feel bad about. We’re all in the same boat.

Mental health is important to us at Ad Purp, regardless of whether or not we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s clear right now, more than ever before, prioritizing mindfulness and managing one’s general well being is essential.

Meditation is a great place to start. But does it really work? Well, let’s see.

If you’ll allow me, I’d like to guide you through a quick and simple exercise that I’m fairly certain will make you feel better, almost immediately. It will only take exactly 32 seconds. Interested? Of course you are.

Ok, let’s do this.

Take a deep breath, breathing in for four seconds. Count four seconds and breathe out. Again, four seconds as you exhale.

Now wait, another four seconds. One more four second deep breath. Hold again for four seconds. And out.

Now, how do you feel? You completed one of the most basic meditation techniques I learned from Unplug Meditation, a wellness, meditation, and mindfulness startup that operates out of Santa Monica and West Hollywood in Southern California.

One of the perks of working at Advertise Purple is that every month or two, an expert from Unplug comes by and leads an hour-long guided meditation. Typically, it’s towards the end of the work day and it’s safe to say the process is slightly different than that 32 second exercise.

That sometimes fleeting feeling of relief and relaxation (especially during a busy work day) pretty much comes guaranteed, every single time. Fortunately, we are going to be doing a virtual session later this month. I for one am looking forward to it.

Ad Purp Senior Project Manager Marissa Valentino, who originally coordinated our sessions with Unplug and came up with the idea for the virtual session we’ll be having in a couple of weeks feels, though new to meditation, it’s a big key to mental health:

“I am newly learning how meditation plays into mental health and finding ways I can incorporate it into my everyday life. My biggest takeaway from all of this is becoming more present, whether it’s at work or in my personal life. It’s extremely easy to get caught up in this busy world we live in or even something as small as a stressful moment in the middle of our day. Taking time to meditate, or even just a 5 second pause to breathe, can not only eliminate stress but can help you move forward with a more clear mind. Meditation can help bring you back to a healthy mental state. It’s important to prioritize mental health because it affects how we think, feel, act, and dictates our emotional well being.”

I get that not everybody wants to meditate or has the time. But there are plenty of things you can do to focus on your mental state during the day, while working from home or just surviving during this strange time.

Here are a few anecdotal ways some Ad Purp staff is handling the crisis and being sheltered in place, at home. I prompted them by asking any and all ways to stay sane:

  • “I go outside, in the sun, at least 15 minutes each day” – Rowland Hazard, Director of Technology
  • “I have been going crazy cooking these past couple months! I’ve never had the time to learn nor did I have the interest but being at home so much I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try something new. Now I find myself actively on Pinterest searching for interesting fusion recipes I can try! And don’t even get me started on the baking… cookies galore! The cooking and baking has made the days go by a little bit faster and sweeter :)” – Natasha Bhogal, Lead Analyst
  • “So what i’ve been doing is taking an hour or two away from my phone and social media each day cutting myself off from the outside world – using this time to learn a new hobby, dust off my guitar, or simply just go out for a walk.” – Bryce Burciaga, Account Manager
  • “I try to improve my mental health by going on 3 walks a day at the beach. One in the morning to wake up and relax before starting work. One in the afternoon to get away from my computer for a minute and give my brain a break. And one at night to unwind and relax after a crazy day (and to help digest my dinner lol) Also, I work out outside on my deck everyday. at least 30 minutes where i concentrate 100% on just my workout and nothing else. Plus the fresh air is so nice after being inside all day” – Devon Norris, Senior Director, Enterprise Accounts
  • “So first, in the morning I make a smoothie and go for a walk around the block without my cell phone… i have lost all motivation to work out so my walks are my workout… my boyfriend and i also enjoy watching “Hot Ones” interviews where they eat spicy chicken wings and bought a bunch of hot sauce and played along” – Lily Sabatini, Account Manager
  • “I usually go on walks to make sure I get my outside/sun time and I’ve been getting really into baking and plants because it feels productive!” – Jennifer Pham, Account Manager
  • “My lowly contribution to the mental health topic is lunch breaks! It was hard enough to actually take a full lunch break back when we were in the office, but now during quarantine where we’re working in our homes, the lines of when and where work stops and starts are a lot more blurred. It can be even harder to take a solid hour away from the desk and away from work now, but I noticed that when I actually do that, I’m a much happier person. It also helps to break up the day from being just one long blur of “work work work.” 🙂 So take your lunch breaks everyone!” – Christina Ferrada, Project Manager

Other colleagues mentioned their animals, coffee, and of course, alcohol. Of course, that last one can be dicey, but honestly, we support anything that helps you cope.

I think the key here is to do whatever you have to do to just essentially break up your day. Small moments throughout a normal workday or even one’s commute might be missing that could provide a bit of a calming break. Make up for those any way you can and you’ll feel better.

Breathe in. Breathe out. You’re going to be ok.

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