5 Mindfulness Tips for Leaders in Times of Crisis and Uncertainty

By Arvin Patel, EVP & CIPO at TiVo, Entertainment + Tech Thought Leader, Forbes Contributor

The coronavirus crisis is putting everyone in a state of uncertainty, anxiety, and worry. But even in the most stressful times, I believe that we have a choice to make: we can either choose to assume the worst-case scenario, or we can choose to approach the problem with optimism and mindfulness.

With the right mindset, along with mindfulness and self-care, leaders can help create a positive and inspiring example for their team. I would like to offer a few examples from my own life and work which I hope will be helpful to everyone as we navigate these strange times together.

1. Stay physically active.

During normal times, I love to practice mixed martial arts (MMA). Like many other fitness-loving Americans, I’m currently unable to participate in my favorite group exercise activity at my usual gym. However, it’s important to keep being physically active, even if your fitness routine is disrupted.

Even with shelter-in-place orders, most of us can still exercise outside (while practicing safe social distancing). Go for a walk in the park or a run on the trail. Play basketball or kick a soccer ball with your children, spouse, or roommates.

I’ve been using this extra time at home to stay active with a few of my favorite fitness companies that are offering online classes:

· Peloton: Along with their well-known Peloton bikes and tread systems, the Peloton app offers live and on-demand streaming workouts that you can do from home, while still feeling like you’re part of a larger group activity. Even if you don’t have a Peloton machine, they are offering the Peloton app for free for 90 days. This provides access to guided yoga, bootcamps, running, and strength training workouts. My son has gotten involved with the live streaming fitness trend, too!

· Barry’s Bootcamp: There are so many great personal trainers and fitness gyms right now that are offering live streaming for classes and workouts. I’ve also been doing workouts from home with Barry’s Bootcamp. I highly recommend following them on social media. They always come to the table with new and challenging workouts.

· Mighty Pilates: This is a fantastic Pilates studio based in San Francisco (with additional California locations) that is offering special packages of online classes: 5 classes for $59 or try one class for just $14. During this time, everyone needs to build up their core strength especially if you are sitting all day while working remotely.

A few of my other recommended free fitness apps include: CorePower Yoga (especially instructor Natasha Coler), Daily Burn, and Nike Training Club. Check out these apps and find what works for you!

Even though we have to avoid crowds, there are many things we can do to stay active while at home. Staying fit and moving our bodies helps clear our minds of stress and worry.

2. Manage your media consumption.

This pandemic is the biggest news story in the world, and it can feel all-encompassing. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole on social media and suddenly start getting bombarded with too much scary news.

More than ever, it’s important to make a concerted effort to manage our media diets. I check the coronavirus-related news just once a day each morning with an email update from CNN. And beyond that, I try not to look at the pandemic news for the rest of my day. Instead, I focus on what I can control.

There is a quote from Buddhism that helps me stay in the present moment, and perhaps it will be helpful for others, too: “The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment.”

We cannot go back in time and change the circumstances that led to this moment of crisis. We cannot predict what will happen in the future, especially not at a time of such great uncertainty. But what we can do is to keep living and finding purpose and contentment in the present moment.

Try not to get overwhelmed by the headlines. By all means, keep listening to public health experts and doing what you can to stay safe and healthy. But past a certain point, it’s not constructive to obsessively follow the news.

Try to stay informed, but be mindful about it. Preserve your sense of calm. Be present.

3. Focus on what’s in your control.

Although many brick-and-mortar businesses have had to temporarily shut down, lots of organizations that can work remotely are still forging ahead with business as usual, even if they’re having to work from home or pivot their business model. Try not to dwell on a worst case scenario; just keep tending to what’s right in front of you.

My team at TiVo and I have plenty of work to do, even though we’re not meeting in the same physical office space. Many great companies and organizations are still working hard every day to support their mission, while working from home and talking via video conference. The spirit of teamwork and camaraderie at work is still alive, despite the fact that the workplace has temporarily changed.

4. Take care of your people.

Moments like this remind us of how important other people are to our success and happiness in life. Check in regularly with your work team, your customers, your colleagues, your professional network, your friends, and most importantly your family. We are all connected, and we need each other. In this moment, it feels like all of humanity is engaged in an “all hands on deck” struggle. That spirit of solidarity can be healthy! I believe that humanity has the potential to demonstrate our unity; we will get through this crisis together.

5. Keep your mind healthy.

I try to practice meditation each day. Having some sort of mindfulness or spiritual practice is especially important for times like this. Superstar athletes like LeBron James and Steph Curry meditate before big games and as part of their regular wellness routines. There are great meditation and mindfulness apps where you can get started for free; Calm has a free version featuring LeBron James that’s amazing! I also recommend the Headspace and Oak meditation apps.

Whatever your personal mindfulness practice might be, whether it’s yoga, meditation, or a spiritual ritual or prayer, you should do whatever you can to help calm your mind and stay in a positive mental state.

Obviously, this is a moment of significant challenge. But along with the scary headlines and sad stories, I expect that we will start to see more good news. Lots of amazing people all over the world are working hard to fight this crisis. Medical community, scientific researchers, tech companies, and data scientists all over the world are combining their efforts and sharing expertise. They have already made wonderful progress in places like China, South Korea, and Hong Kong. There are many signs of hope!

People are not helpless against this virus; we are innovating, organizing, and using our collective brainpower to defeat it. Let’s keep supporting each other. I believe we will get through this crisis together, and emerge from it with valuable lessons and a renewed sense of strength.

An inventor and leading voice on #entertainment and #innovation. COO, Invention Investment Funds @Intellectual Ventures