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MEDITATION AND MENTAL HEALTH DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The coronavirus pandemic has changed what a normal day looks like for many across the country. And the pandemic has also increased the stress of many Americans.

Prioritizing mental health and well-being in the face of a pandemic, which has caused many to lose their jobs or work from home, is something that every single person should be doing, but it often falls by the wayside.

Maintaining your mental health during these uncertain times can be challenging, especially if you’re not sure how to get started. That’s where meditation can help. There are many different types of meditation to try, and you can see its positive effects after a few minutes.

What is meditation?
Meditation is an activity that can calm your mind and keep you focused on the present. In a meditative state, you can clear your mind of cluttered thoughts and memories. Studies even show meditation is effective in controlling anxiety, enhancing the immune system and reducing conditions such as high blood pressure, substance abuse and chronic pain.

There are numerous kinds of meditative techniques, but concentrative, mindful and transcendental are the most common.

• During concentrative meditation you focus your attention on a single sound, object or breathing pattern to bring about a calm, tranquil mind.
• During mindful meditation, you keep your mind aware, but you do not react to sensations,feelings or images going on around you.
• During transcendental meditation, you put your body at full rest but keep your mind fully alert, bringing about a deep state of relaxation.

How to Practice Meditation
There are countless ways that you can practice meditation. And, during the coronavirus pandemic, many meditation apps are offering discounted or free memberships to help you lower your stress during these uncertain times.
Mastering meditation takes practice, but getting started is easy and takes just minutes of your time. Try these two quick mindful meditation techniques next time you’re feeling stressed.
• One-minute relaxation breathing—Close your eyes and take a deep breath in for a count of four, and then exhale for a count of eight. Repeat five times.
• Five-minute body scan meditation—Sit or lay down in a comfortable position and take a few moments to find a calm, steady breath. Bring your awareness to sensations in your body, where you will spend several slow breaths on

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