Can Mindfulness Keep Us Safe From COVID-19?

Huge thanks to our resident guest author, Tim. In this piece, he opens up for discussion and consideration the hot topic of COVID-19 and the impact on our wellbeing the global shutdown can create.

If you’re hoping for a universal aspirin then it’s a pretty daft question, really, because it can and it can’t. It can’t stop you from becoming infected with COVID-19, nor can it mitigate the infection should we be unlucky enough to contract it. But we can look at the things we can do mindfully to make our lives easier.

By staying mindful we can keep ourselves level headed and calm.

Emotional Health

We have the choice over how we handle the rather frequent messages from our government and others. Mindful understanding means we need to choose how much to listen to or read, and, of that, how to process what we see.

An example is looking at the thing that fascinates us all, the inevitable rising number of deaths. If we are mindful, we realise that the actual number of deaths, while each individual is important to those who love them, is only interesting as a percentage of the true total number of those infected. Since we do not know that number, all we can view is the number. We have no percentage. Mindfully, we understand that deaths will happen and that they will increase as the ailment progresses, but that the actual figure is neither important, nor frightening. It is, simply, a number.


If we treat all that we see and hear with quiet #mindfulness then our emotional health will not suffer to the same extent as someone who is not grounded by mindful thought. Sure, we will have stresses, but at a lower level.

Physical Health

We can achieve some degree of physical resilience and attack boredom by taking some form of exercise that we would not, normally. There is a suggestion by medical professionals that increasing our physical fitness is related to our emotional health, but, and more importantly, our body’s ability to withstand illness.

It’s the same, they have said, as becoming physically fitter before surgery. Recovery time is shortened, and symptoms are alleviated. So it’s an option where we cannot lose, more so since endorphins released by exercise tend to increase our emotional wellbeing.

As I write this, we are allowed to exercise for one period a day outside our own home.

The Effect of Social Distancing and Staying at Home


I have been doing this since the day after the UK Lockdown, being careful to be at least 2 metres away from anyone as I do so, even if I have to go out of my way to do so. This is my regime. Yours will be different.

I’m overweight.

I am in the process of shedding that weight. As lockdown started I had reached 93kg starting at 101.6 in mid-January. I intend to lose weight with some fluctuations until I hit 79kg. I’m 178.5cm tall. Part of the weight loss has been by walking every day and including a steep hill every alternate day. But I do not particularly want to encounter other people.

Mindfully, I have considered what my house and locality has available. For cardio fitness I need to climb, to gain height; for ordinary fitness, stamina, I need to walk some distance.


My house has stairs. My park has a short circuit with a flight of stairs. My back garden has a ridiculously steep set of stairs.


I decided to use these for an entirely arbitrary start to exercise; arbitrary because I knew (mindfulness again) that I had no idea what my body was capable of. I started with a view that I would walk up 40 flights of stairs in 10 flight periods, recovering fully between them. It was sufficiently tiring at first, but I almost enjoyed it.

I noticed, on climbing, how my legs started to rebel after the third upward flight (I go down again between flights!), loosened around flight 6, and re-tightened at flight 10.


That’s exercising mindfully, noticing things rather than just puffing and blowing.


I noted the differences between the first, second, third and final 10 flights. I chose to find this interesting and thus the repetitions were not boring.

At a couple of days in, I swapped 20 of the domestic flights for a short circuit with a flight in it, and added in a full circuit of the park on every 10th flight. As I performed this I meditated. You can do that while walking. I meditated by noticing my surroundings, litter, grass, other people, dogs, all the while considering how I was walking, looking at my posture, my stride, my foot placement, and by understanding what I was doing.

Very soon I have been able to increase the number of circuits, the number of domestic flights of stairs. I was pleased to notice yesterday at the end of 10 flights that flight 11 was possible, and was intrigued that I increased that set to 20 flights without undue difficulty.


This is good not only for my physical but for my emotional health.


Today I have chosen a rest day. It’s not that I need one, nor is it that I want one. I know that my muscles need a day’s rest to rebuild in order to restart tomorrow, so I am doing this, and noticing how I feel not exercising. I’ve given myself the task of writing this piece for Bob, not that he has a clue it’s heading his way!

Looking mindfully at what I’m doing, I am protecting my emotional health and my physical health and interlinking the two in what I’m doing.

And, to do so, I am making use of what I have. What you have available will be different.

Practical Health

Wash your hands.

Now wash them again.

Clean your computer keyboard, door handles, fridge door, kettle handle, taps. Wash your hands again.

You know all that advice about hand washing? No-one has yet told us to wash our towels! Wash the towels often.

To find out more about 13-year-old Tim, his older self has published Queer Me! Halfway between Flying and Crying.


About the author
Managing Director / Counsellor at Anglia Counselling Ltd | 07747042899 | [email protected] | Business Website

Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.

Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).


  1. Sonya

    Funny you mention ‘towels’. I put a clean hand towel out each day in the bathroom and the towel in the kitchen is replaced every other day. I did wonder about this as really we should be using paper towels to dry our hands as we are relying upon the person before us to have washed their hands properly.

    • I wonder(!) about hot air dryers, too. As far as I can see they will spray any residue from incomplete hand washing around the room. I’ve long avoided those.

      A problem I’m getting a lot is really rough and scratchy hands. I wash, rinse, dry and moisturise, but it still hurts. My mother used to have a bottle of glycerine by her sink for her hands. I wonder if that is better than moisturisers? Finding paper towels is likely to be even harder than finding toilet roll unless one is a business. They’re even rougher on the hands.

      The thing is, rough, damaged hands provide a virus entry point… So we need to think hard about all of our behaviour

      • Sonya

        That’s a good point about the dryers. My hands are terrible at the moment too. I’ve even been drinking 99% aloe vera juice for the last three weeks and it’s not helped.

  2. Robert Brotchie

    Great points mentioned already.

    In my first real job, as an apprentice hairdresser, (Yes, really, lol), I was naturally tasked with washing hair as a junior apprentice. Needless to say, I developed horrendous dermatitis; which is simply skin-inflammation caused by the degreasers in shampoo! All I could do at that time was to eventually realise this wasn’t for me. But in my last career in medicine, I learned to maintain hygiene and replace in double-quick time, the oils stripped away from cleaning. A high-quality Ph-balanced moisturiser is essential, and one that is best matched to your specific skin. Following the moisturiser, a decent quality skin protector, such as O’keeffe’s is particularly helpful. If you have any other tips, do share …

    • I’ve noticed that some hospital toilets have hand wash and moisturiser for patient use. At last I understand why that is!

  3. Since I penned this article I have raised my game and increased both distance walked and flights climbed. This morning I noticed (mindfully) in the park that in the two minutes between my circuit with steps in it a dog walker had most carefully bagged up a load of poo, tied the top with consummate care, and left it neatly on the ground at the foot of the steps.

    Twenty-five metres away is a bin, buy they expect the Poo Fairy to come and get it.

    Under normal circumstances I would have disposed of it, but I’m not about to pick up their poo bag with the possibility of the owner having the Covid 19 infection.

    I thought about this with care as I passed the bag each time, and determined that my first decision was correct. I was mindfully aggravated by the person giving dog walkers a bad name.

    I wonder if they washed their hands?

    • Robert Brotchie

      I agree, Tim.

      As a dog walker there are times when walking away from home and where I expect to come past again that I ‘may’ leave a bag in a conspicuous place so I don’t forget to collect it on my way back. However, I’m also aware there are plenty, it seems, who only bag the poo because someone might be approaching!
      Just collect it and bin it, peeps!

  4. Rigby Taylor

    Thanks, Tim.

    A clear and concise explanation of what “mindfulness” means, and, more importantly, how to be mindful in daily life. I’ve heard the word mentioned many times as a useful tool for mental health, but always imagined it was some esoteric form of meditation, like the transcendental movement forty years ago. It’s nice to learn that it’s a very easy, practical method of being aware rationally and calmly of the present moment.

    That dog poo woman is not a thoughtful person, she [and possibly her family] would benefit were she to practice mindfulness.

    • Mindfulness can be turned into mumbo jumbo. Bob’s a good chap to ask because he’s a practitioner, and I think he’ll agree that the simplest explanation is the best.

      Meditation, for me at least, is guided or self guided thinking, noticing distractions, considering them for what they are, and setting them aside when they are unimportant. Important distractions like the house being on fire, those ought not to be set aside!

      Thus I have learnt with ease that I can meditate even when doing something, because it involves simply setting extraneous matter aside. It’s probably best not to do it while driving, though. I can drive mindfully, but I cannot drove while meditating!

      I went to ‘Mindfulness Lessons’ once. They were ghastly, led by a pretentious expert, with the class feeding back to the leader what they believed she wanted to hear. “I just imagined my anger as a spiky red glowing ball.” She was congratulated.

      I considered the benefit I was receiving, and concluded that a refund was more benefit than the lessons. Your mileage may vary, of course.

      Mindfulness, separated from mumbo jumbo and ladies who lunch is a valuable tool for considering with care any situation, especially one where stress is involved.

  5. An update – you tell me how mindful this is:

    My feet were uncomfortable. My shoes were already on their last few miles. On Monday I ordered new walking shoes. They arrived yesterday. What a difference!

    I am now walking an average of 6.8 miles a day, up on last week’s 3.2 miles a day average. Distances courtesy of an app on my phone. They may be reliable. More likely they are just a number.

    I am now climbing, including circuits of the park, 70 flights of stairs a day. These are physical stairs. I have noted that the final set is becoming easier. Using my phone app again, it says that I have averaged 74 flights of “App standard stairs’ this week instead of 32 of those last week. The app standard stairs are a smidgen under 10 metres.

    Getting started again after the important rest day was intellectually fine and emotionally hard. I did not want to do it. Physically it was sightly harder on Monday than on Saturday, doing the same work.

    My weight, this morning is down 1kg to 92kg. This is not due to exercise alone. Indeed, I think exercise kept me at 93kg for several days. I also had a small diet wobble for a couple of days with a rather lovely two-day fish pie! Mindfully, I expect the 92kg will vary upwards a little before I break the rather fake 92kg barrier. And yes I measure daily so I can understand what is happen and to make mindful corrections.

    Those area measurables which I can react to (mindfulness). How do I feel?

    Tired, frankly, is how I feel. But I am also finding the exercise easier. I’m noticing this and enjoying it.

    Emotionally I have concluded that almost all news is COVID-19 Pornography, created by news media flailing around with the flailing around of multiple governments. I read some, am sad about some, but see nothing useful in it, save for the posturing of the who must posture.

    Controversially, perhaps, I have not gone out of my front door and ‘clapped for carers’ because it feels like peer pressure. I have never liked peer pressure. I choose to give my thanks in other ways, ways that are private between me and those I thank. And I am also thankful for shop staff, bus crews, rubbish collections, mail and courier delivery, and many other roles besides. I have chosen to be mindful and thank folk directly, not stand outside to show my neighbours how thankful I am.

    • Robert Brotchie

      Perfect, Tim. You are indeed following a mindful practice and trajectory and very much mirrors my own. Cool, being awake, especially at this time!

      • I did get a puncture this morning. 46 minutes into the session my left heel was itchy. I peeled the sock down, found the start of a blister, said a very rude word (mindfully! It was necessary!!) and have decided to treat the remainder of today as a blister-plastered rest day! I’m just under halfway through, but soldiering on would be stupid. I’m doing this for the long haul and there are no medals in blisters.

        • Robert Brotchie

          Very good, though uncomfortable! Right action though! Little point being awake and aware and then ignoring what works best 🙂

  6. Several days in, I thought you might like to know whether my mindful approach to the news is still helping me.

    I confess to a couple of wobbles. Then I considered why I was wobbling. It wasn’t an overdose of news, and it certainly wasn’t hospitalisation of well known people and politicians. It wasn’t the conversations 2 metres away from neighbours.

    Instead it was a minor feeling of loneliness.

    Considering that, I am not alone, I just have no occupation outside the home except exercising. I have lost that interaction. So I have picked up the phone more, called people I last spoke to years ago. That in itself didn’t solve the wobbles, but they went away.

    The exercise is helpful. I have a two hour period in the morning when all I can do is walk and count laps! The format hour and a half is walking around the park counting 30 flights of stairs, walking just over five miles in the process. The next two quarter hours are in my back garden walking doggedly up and down the stairs in two lots of 20 flights.

    While I’m walking I do breathing exercises. Deep breath in – hold for five seconds – full breath out. Repeat that five times. On the sixth deep inhalation I hold for 5 seconds, and force a deep cough. I then repeat that sequence as many times as I feel comfortable with.

    Doesn’t half confuse the counting!

    The reason I’m doing it, is to re-educate my lungs. I need to use all my lungs, not just some of them. So I’m using my diaphragm (which was hard to spell, let alone locate) to inhale deep down. Being able to use all my lungs now means I have more ability to breathe assuming infection strikes.

    All of this is mindful thinking, mindful exercising.

  7. Several days on, I’m still exercising at the same intensity, and still having the occasional wobble emotionally. Even being mindful does not make one strong at all times. I think the wobbles through and make a decision about worrying or not worrying. So far my decision has always been not to worry. I choose to remain concerned, but concern is different form worry.

    There are things I miss. I miss just going out for a wander. I miss the ability to choose to stay at home instead of knowing I must do so. I miss taking folk with disabilities afloat.

    But I am also missing the chance of an easy infection from a random contact.

    On balance that is a decent trade off.

    I’m at the stage with exercise where I’m wondering whether I ought to feel fitter. Intellectually, though it’s likely it’s also too soon. I’ll know more on my rest day on Sunday when I will go for a walk with no flights of stairs or repetitive circuits of the park involved. It’s up a decent hill, the climb is about 150 metres, and the total walk is less than I do round the park, at about 3.5 miles. I’ll see if I find it easier than I used to.

    My daily routine is 5.1 miles according to my iPhone’s health app, but I also know this is just a number. The flights of stairs are real enough. Those I count, physically.

    My routine allows me the peace and quiet of exercise, as does mindful thought.

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