2. Maintaining Our Well-being During Coronavirus
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
The current health crisis is presenting all of us with challenges that we’ve never faced before. Worry, fear, stress, and anxiety are perfectly normal human feelings and reactions to the new reality we have had to abruptly adjust to. I realized just how normal and universal these feelings are the other day when I heard a legendary meditation teacher with 50 years of experience describing her own anxiety and fears that have spiked during the spread of Coronavirus.
I decided to put together a few resources that I’ve found helpful in maintaining my calmness and positivity as much as possible during these strenuous and often confusing times. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any great tips or resources to add here or if you’d simply like to talk, vent, bond, or seek support. I know that connecting with friends and family is one of the main ways I’ve been able to survive this challenge.
I hope there is one thing that you find helpful!
1. We’ve got to be kinder to ourselves
A lot of our stress is stemming from doubts that we are doing enough for our loved ones. Parents wonder whether they’re doing enough to ensure that their kids are learning while schools are closed. We worry about the older members of our family and what might happen if they contract the virus. We worry about loved ones who are already sick and/or hospitalized and whether we’re doing enough to help. Let’s ask ourselves one question each day:
"Am I trying my best?"
Yes, you very likely are doing everything in your power to support everyone in your life. Allow this fact to calm you and derive strength from it. There are things you can control and things you cannot, and you’re doing everything you are able to do with the things you can control. If, by chance, there comes a day when the answer is “No, I honestly could have done more without sacrificing my own baseline well-being,” then commit to one thing that you’re going to do differently tomorrow and allow that progress to give you energy and peace of mind.
2. Six Daily Questions to Ask Yourself in Quarantine
Here is a beautiful article about checking in with ourselves. You can share this image with friends!
3. 10% Happier Podcast Episode
I found this recent episode of the 10% Happier Podcast to be helpful in elevating my mood and relieving some anxiety. It featured meditation expert Sharon Salzberg offering a practical approach for dealing with the current circumstances.
4. Meditation has been a life saver
If you’re thinking, “Yes Mister V, in the middle of all of this I think I’ll go learn how to meditate 😀” - no worries! There are some awesome guided meditations being offered by some of the greatest teachers in the world. They are guiding thousands of people live online, daily, with a specific focus on managing our mental health during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here are some I’ve thoroughly enjoyed so far:
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, humanitarian and founder of the Art of Living Foundation, is offering daily live meditations as well on both Youtube and Facebook Live.
Ten Percent Happier is offering a free “live guided meditation and virtual break from social distancing” every weekday at 3 pm with host Dan Harris and one of the world’s best meditation teachers.
SKY Schools is offering an online relaxation series featuring meditation and breathing exercises live, 6 times a day! This is great for adults and kids. If you miss a live session, you’ll see the entire archive featuring some of the best teachers in the country, many of whom I know personally and have worked with for years.
Want to use a meditation app for complete ease and flexibility? There are some good recommendations in these articles: Five Free Mindfulness Apps and The 10 Best Meditation Apps to Help with Anxiety. One app that I really love to use with my young children is Stop, Breathe & Think - Kids.
5. Super Comprehensive Guide
Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center published this super-comprehensive Guide to Well-Being during the Coronavirus. Tons of resources, practices, and articles. It’s really an amazing source of information.
6. Specific Practices with Tangible Results
Sometimes we’ve had enough of articles, vague advice, mysterious science, and memes - we want specific practices that we can do with tangible results. I think the Greater Good In Action website is the best in this area. I’ve tried the gratitude practice, connection practice, empathy practice, and others, and have experienced immediate shifts in my mood, quality of life, and relationships with others.
7. Do Something For Someone Else
A lot of anxiety arises because we construct scenarios in our minds, subconsciously invest in these scenarios, and allow them to become terrifying outcomes that feel very real. “My neighbor has COVID-19? Wasn’t I near her a few days ago? What if I have it? What if I’ve already passed it on to my kids? Didn’t someone young and healthy die the other day? What if that happens to me? How horrible am I? I’ve just killed my whole family!”
The solution often lies in shifting our attention away from ourselves and to someone else. This has immediate effects. There are two ways that I’ve found most impactful:
Think of someone you can help today. You may be able to pick up medicines for a neighbor or deliver food to them. Even thinking to yourself “who do I know who may be struggling right now or feeling overwhelmed?” will have an immediate stress-relieving effect on your own mind. Offering emotional support with words over the phone or video chat will help you and the other individual at the same time.
Try a Loving Kindness guided meditation. This practice really helps foster compassion and allows our minds to shift away from the anxiety-producing scenarios we construct. There are a couple of versions out there, but I am a fan of the loving kindness meditation offered by UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. Listen to it with your family if you want and discuss how you felt afterward. Tip: It’s OK to think of someone you know during the meditation, but it’s even better to think of a stranger. For example, the person working at the pharmacy or the first responders on the front lines in your town. Also, the MARC website offers multiple free, guided meditations in English and Spanish. They’re quick and fantastic for kids - we used them over the loudspeaker at my charter school. Try the 3-minute body scan with kids as young as 3 years old. You may find that they want to make it a daily or nightly routine!
8. Resources for Educators and Caregivers
Check out the phenomenal resources from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility
Start with this continuously updated page of lessons, tips, and resources for remote learning during coronavirus school closures. For example, this lesson to help middle and high school students identify and share their feelings during this stressful time.
Self-care for educators and caregivers during a pandemic - 12 tips to help you take care of yourself in the coming weeks and months
Delivering joy in this moment - Another great lesson for students in which they explore ways to creatively connect, show each other support, and display kindness amid this pandemic.
9. Unwind and Do Something You Love
Make sure you set aside at least 45 minutes each day to unwind and do something you love. Support your partners and roommates in ensuring that everyone has this protected, personal time. I have to go for a run (while being careful to remain 6 feet away from everyone) or I’ll go crazy!
STAY SAFE AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES!
With love and solidarity,