Awareness, Intention & Mindful Action – During Stressful Times

By Posted in - Blog March 24th, 2020 2 Comments

When faced with a threatening, challenging time, like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to feel scared, uncertain, and a sense of loss.

Some of us are impacted more than others. And we all have our different ways of responding and approaching the situation. Yet, we are all experiencing this together.

If you listen to the Empowered Relationship podcast, so much of what we talk about is not attempting to eliminate difficulties, but learning how to deal with the challenges.

Rather than turning away and attempting to ignore the issue or panicking and losing our ground, we find presence, authenticity and work from there towards healing and solution.

Challenges pose opportunities for us to show-up. Maybe we grow our sense of presence, compassion, and grace. Maybe we work to manage our reactions and fears. Or perhaps, we increase our self-understanding and self-care or learn to reach to others for more connection.

Let’s be in community and practice together…

1. Awareness: How can you stay present to what you are feeling and experiencing, so that you can stay regulated and balanced?

  • Pay attention.
  • When you start to feel activated (i.e. anxious, depressed, angry, triggered, flighty, etc). slow down and focus on regulation. There are many ways to regulate your nervous system.
  • Here are a few ways to regulate:
    1. Deep breathing.
    2. Take a walk outside.
    3. Talk to someone you love.
    4. Gay & Katie Hendricks offer us Fear Melters, which are great somatic exercises.
    5. Journal.

Intention: How do you want to be through this stressful period of time? What would you like to create in your life given the current circumstance?

Having an intention can be a helpful tool, as it can give meaning and purpose to a time that might otherwise seem chaotic and random. An intention gives you something to focus on, especially when there is so much that is out of our control. 

With an intention, you can put your energy into what you want to create more of in your life.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Find gratitude. Focus on the goodness in your life right now. Perhaps start a daily gratitude list (where you write down all the things you are grateful for everyday).
  • Practice kindness.
  • Cultivate connection.
    1. Call or video chat loved ones (and maybe limit social media time).
    2. Have a party online via video chat (game night, dance party, tea party, birthday party, etc.)
    3. Play a game with your family or friends.
  • Engage in something of interest to you. Study a subject you have been interested in or read a book for pleasure.
  • Increase your health regime.
    1. Get good sleep.
    2. Move your body.
    3. Practice Joy.
    4. Eat nutritious food.
    5. Stay hydrated.

Mindful action: How can you practice discernment? How can you choose your response, rather than reacting in fear?

  • Be proactive about COVID-19 safety measures.
  • Take impeccable care of yourself (see above).
  • Be present to your surroundings and the moment.
  • Build a meditation practice with the Wheel of Awareness, by Dr. Dan Siegel
  • Build positive connection with your partner:
    1. The 36 Questions That Lead To Love, by Daniel Jones
    2. Check-in:
      • How can I support you today? During this phase?
      • Talk about the stress you are feeling?
      • How you can take care of yourself?
      • What brought you joy today?
    3. Eye gaze for 4 minutes
    4. Learn your love languages.
    5. Write a love letter to your partner.
    6. Share fond memories together (i.e. when you first met, funniest memories, special moments, etc).
  • Look for opportunities.
    1. If you have extra time on your hands, what can you do that you can feel good about with the change in your schedule (i.e. do something creative, work on a project, etc)?
    2. Find ways to be of service or to be of help. There may be many ways you can help from a distance.

Our intentions can help orient us…like a compass, they can give us direction during uncertain times.

Awareness helps us be more awake to what we are experiencing, so that we can take care of ourselves and others.

Mindful action helps us respond with wisdom and clarity.

Hopefully these tips will help you navigate a challenge in your life more effectively.

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Thank you. ❤

(2) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Clay Ryan - Reply

    June 13, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    Excellent article, Dr. Higgins.

    We can all use a technique or mindful approach to our stresses in daily life.

    I can see where these methods, when practiced or guided, would bring the emotional response down such that an individual would be calm, or a couple could find common ground.

    Mindfulness, deep breathing, awareness and guidance are all important. I would add that their is a tool which helps with this and coaches are embracing feedback in all its forms, including biofeedback, which brings us awareness of our own stress triggers and responses.

    Thanks again for this excellent piece. I’ll share it, if I may.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      June 23, 2022 at 8:00 pm

      Hi Clay. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I agree that it can be extremely helpful to utilize tools to help identify and understanding our stress response, triggers and nervous system reactivity is key. Sounds like you may be assisting people with this very thing. Thank you for the work you are doing in the world.

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