I have always been someone who stopped and smelled the roses. My sense of smell is normally acute, which is why I found it distressing to lose it when I contracted COVID-19 in January.
One study I saw concluded the loss of smell from the virus increased depression and anxiety. I noticed that and there was added stress due to uncertainty around when or if it would come back having read, ‘some people after having COVID-19 were still without their sense of smell over a year later, with no sign of it returning’.
Contemplating this, I understood we can adapt, and our other senses can develop more acutely when one is lost or diminished. Nevertheless, the saying, ‘we don’t appreciate something until we lose it’ rang true for me and I was worried. So I committed to appreciating more, complaining less and being patient and hopeful while I waited to see what would unfold. In fairness, there were more pressing, life-threatening issues and long covid around me that helped me gain perspective.
It took 4 months before my sense of smell fully returned. I was aware it was improving gradually but not back 100% until one day in Spring here in Dublin, some roses in my mother’s garden had bloomed. I went out to see if I could smell them and to my great joy and surprise, I could once again ‘stop and smell the roses’, and how sweet they were!
Our senses are a wonderful gateway to the present moment. Whether it’s smelling a flower, eating something delicious, listening to music we enjoy, or feeling the air temperature on our skin, we can punctuate our days with more pleasurable moments of mindfulness through the senses. Mindfulness has been proven to reduce depression for some and to cure it for others. It has also been proven to increase self-esteem and boost our mood. It can enhance our experience through the good times and support us in more challenging moments. The benefits of mindfulness are extensively researched and widely documented and yet, we need to be reminded of it regularly due to our mind’s tendency to wander, worry and stress. So, here I am with a friendly reminder for myself and anyone else who will find this useful today. How can we include more mindful moments this week, especially those that could bring us more joy?
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