By Lexi Kluth, Marketing Coordinator, Validic™

This morning I woke up to a seemingly never-ending stream of notifications and headlines: 

As I rubbed my tired eyes (I know, I shouldn’t do that) so I could read the stream of information rolling on the lock screen of my phone, the panic set in. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has left millions of Americans stressed, scared, and wondering how they will meet their basic needs. 

If everyone is emptying grocery stores, what will those who didn’t have enough time or money to purchase items do? If people are losing their jobs, how will they have the money to pay for their rent, groceries, medications, or other bills? 

My days, probably like yours, revolve around the Coronavirus. Hours of my days are lost consuming social media posts, reading news updates, watching live coverage, and being shocked at empty grocery store aisles.

It’s important during this time to learn how we can better manage the stress and uncertainty of the chaos invading our everyday lives. 

Find trustworthy, reliable information. 

There are a lot of people sharing misinformation about COVID-19 online. Stick to up-to-date information from reputable sources, including the CDC or WHO, along with verified medical and public health professionals. If you feel yourself getting worked up when reading about COVID-19, step away and take a break. 

Social Media Tips

Now is a great time to learn how to set boundaries around social media. 

Create a plan and stick to it. Whether you decide you’ll only check your news feeds for a certain amount of time each day, or you won’t check your social media two hours before you go to sleep, or something completely different, make sure you are being mindful of your social media consumption during this time. 

If you are feeling anxious and use Twitter, you can use the “mute” feature to limit your exposure to certain users or keywords. You can find this in your settings under “Content Preferences.”

Setting up screen time limits on your phone can be helpful as well. Create app limits that only let you look at certain social media platforms for one hour or less. This will minimize the chances of deep diving into a pit of despair as you read the news for hours on end. You can find this in your phone settings under “Screen Time.”

While limits are important, you shouldn’t be afraid to use social media. As we become more isolated, we still need to keep up with people, and when used mindfully, social media can be a good tool for this. Try to find the places online that make you feel connected rather than stressed out. 

Check-in with your Friends and Family (Virtually)

A study found that social isolation can lead to adverse health consequences, including depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function, and impaired immunity at every stage of life.

Take time to talk to your friends and family on the phone or using video chat, especially if you or your loved ones are alone. Create a plan for how you can spend time together. The possibilities are endless: you could set up a daily breakfast video chat with everyone, schedule a regular walk and talk phone call, download the Netflix Chrome Extension to watch your favorite show or movie with everyone while still practicing social distancing, or start a virtual book club.

Create a Wellness Checklist 

Grab a pen and paper and write down five basic check-in questions to help you assess how you are doing and what you might need right now. These could be: When was the last time I ate? When was the last time I had water? Am I moving enough; when did I last exercise, stretch, stand for a few minutes, or take a walk? When was the last time I took a deep breath? Have I been outside today? Gotten enough fresh air? Sunlight? When was the last time I talked to someone? Am I “on-screen” too much? How is my routine? Am I making it work for me?

Place these questions in a space that you see frequently throughout the day and check-in with yourself often.

Download Mindfulness Apps

There are several apps available to help you start doing some basic meditation. Research shows that regular use of a mindfulness app can provide stress intervention when you’re in a pressure-filled situation. Users also report feeling a greater amount of positive emotions as well as fewer burdens brought on by external demands after just 100 minutes of practice. 

  • Calm 
    • Calm is the perfect mindfulness app for beginners. Guided meditation sessions are available in lengths of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 minutes so you can choose the perfect length to fit in with your schedule.
  • Headspace
    • Choose from hundreds of guided meditations on everything from managing stress and anxiety to sleep, productivity, exercise, and physical health.
  • Shine
    • Learn a new self-care strategy every day, get support from a diverse community, and explore an audio library of over 500 original meditations. 

Get Outside

If you are symptom-free, going outside while maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people is okay. We need to look after our mental and physical health, and ensuring you get enough fresh air, nature, and exercise is a great way to do so.

Take a walk, go for a run, or hop on that bike that has been collecting dust in your garage for three years and breathe in that fresh air. 

Do an At-home Workout

  • The Nike Training Club App offers a variety of free workouts designed by trainers. The mobile app includes everything from HIIT-style workouts to yoga flows for all fitness levels.
  • P.volve is a total-body and strengthening fitness platform offering a free 30-day streaming trial. With this, you get access to hundreds of workouts. Use promo code ONEPVOLVE after creating an account. P.volve is also providing free 15-20 minute workouts on Instagram live and 10 post-workouts on YouTube.
  • 305 Fitness: If you are looking for a fun dance cardio-style workout, 305 fitness has lots of amazing free classes available to follow along to on their YouTube page.
  • Barry’s is a well-known boot camp-style go-to studio that offers free 20-minute total body workouts live on Instagram. All you need is your own bodyweight to participate — no equipment required! Check Barry’s Instagram for specific times.
  • FitOn offers free fitness classes through their app, including everything from HIIT to strength to Pilates.

Read a Book or Find a New Hobby 

Reading is a great way to distract yourself from everything that is going on. Pick up one of those books you’ve been telling yourself you were going to start for months and finally read it. If you have a public library card, Libby is an app that allows you to download audiobooks and ebooks for free from your library.

Beyond reading, there are endless possibilities for other hobbies to explore. Have you always wanted to learn how to knit? Master a new language? Perfect a new recipe? Pick up gardening? Now is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby or learn something new.

While staying off social media, working out at home, hosting virtual game nights with your family, and not going out with your friends likely are not part of your normal day-to-day routine, but they are a lot better than empty grocery store aisles and hours spent scrolling through your Twitter timeline feeling hopeless.

Stay present and keep busy. Wash your hands. Take control of your actions and reactions to minimize the worry. That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope you are able to do what you need to do to get through this time.

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