Coping with Covid-19

To help you cope with the various impacts of Covid-19, I’ve compiled a list of free resources below. It’s by no means complete, but instead meant to offer you some ideas of how to address different concerns and what’s available to help you do that.

Remember our brains need a variety of engagement to stay healthy. Here are Dan Siegel’s recommendations for finding balance in your daily mental activity.

And, ultimately, you only need to do what you can do; there is no need to add unnecessary activity or try to “take advantage of this time” to be more productive unless you have extra energy and need a place to direct it.  In general, we are all exhausted from the daily stress and anxiety.  Taking naps, lounging in the sun, staring out the window, sleeping are all a great use of your time.  Rest is restorative and helps you get through the necessary tasks.

 

Stay appropriately informed

Nothing creates more anxiety than a constant drip of click-bait news and alarmist social media posts. It is helpful to strictly limit your time on such platforms and turn off notifications. Pay attention to how the things you read are affecting you, and stick to a few official websites and news sources whose reporting you trust. Some suggestions include:

The World Health Organization

King County Department of Health

New York Times

Johns Hopkins University

The City of Seattle and King County have made various resources available for a range of issues from immigration to small business losses.

The State of Washington has created a very comprehensive coronavirus page with information and resources of all kinds related to the crisis.

 

Move your body

Getting regular exercise and finding ways to move joyfully can make a big difference in your mood and outlook. If you have people at home with you, moving together can be a nice way to connect. If you’re alone, doing an online workout can help you feel more connected, or you might FaceTime with a friend and exercise together. I’m listing a few below that I can endorse, but multiple gyms and fitness apps are offering free classes for the next month or two (just Google “free online fitness classes”).

Yoga with Adriene (playful teaching, approachable poses)

Yogini Melbourne (gentle teaching, more challenging and creative poses)

Dance Church (joyful, sweaty fun)

YMCA 360

Dr. Paul Lam Tai Chi

 

Enjoy the Arts

The arts can be very soothing, reassuring, and cathartic, they can make sense of the strangeness of the human condition, and they can help us feel less alone.  Music also has powerful effects, and you may want to consider a daily musical allowance.

Multiple Arts organizations are making performances and collections available for viewing or listening.

Earshot Jazz

Seattle Symphony

Metropolitan Opera

Royal Opera House (opera and ballet)

Kennedy Center

Seattle Art Museum

LACMA

MOMA

Playing on Air (podcast featuring short plays)

Library of Congress Digital Collections

Smithsonian Museums

National Gallery of Art

Sign up for Poem-a-Day with the Academy of American Poets

 

Stimulate your brain

It’s important to turn your attention to something other than all the things you have no control over. You will benefit from giving your brain new food, and creating learning goals, for example, can help you focus on positive future outcomes. So many of us have things we’ve wanted to learn but never have time for. Now is your chance.

Learn a new language with Duolingo

Take a free online college course with Open Culture, which also has books, movies, language courses, and certificate programs.

Try Lynda Barry’s art and writing class — Here is  an Introduction. She’s also posting regular videos on YouTube lately, and more exercises are available in Syllabus and Making Comics.

Khan Academy has great classes and resources for kids

Authors of Children’s Lit are offering free online readings, drawing instruction, and activities.

Smithsonian offers an online learning lab

Town Hall is offering some of its programming online.

Seattle Public Library has an enormous collection of digital materials.

You can also indulge your inner librarian by helping out archives around the country.

 

Connect with family and friends

With the mandate for social distancing, we can begin to feel isolated and disconnected from society. Taking walks allows you to connect with other people – kids playing outside, people walking their dogs, or neighbors doing yardwork. You can also be creative about how you connect with friends and family.

Host a dance party or happy hour on Zoom. (40-minute limit for free accounts)

Create a Slack channel for different groups, such as parents of your kids’ friends or classmates, to share ideas, resources, teaching tips, or coping strategies.

Use FaceTime or Google Hangouts to:

      • have meals together
      • play music together or for one another
      • teach someone (or learn) how to cook something
      • make art together or for one another
      • take someone on a tour of your garden or your neighborhood.

 

Increase your comfort with uncertainty

The primary issue underlying most of our anxiety at this moment in time is our deep discomfort with uncertainty. For many of us knowledge acquisition and industriousness — planning, making lists, figuring things out, researching, taking action — work hand-in-hand to help us feel we have some control in a chaotic world, but the truth is, nothing is certain. Coronavirus, with its multifarious attendant unknowns and threats, offers us a unique opportunity to increase our ability to tolerate uncertainty.

Pema Chödrön article – “The Fundamental Ambiguity of Being Human”

Jack Kornfield dharma talk – “The Wisdom of Uncertainty”

Jack Kornfield’s guided meditations

Kristin Neff Self-Compassion Exercises for Covid-19 (There are guided meditations at this link as well.)

Interview with Tara Brach – “‘Our calm is contagious’: How to use mindfulness in a pandemic”

Tara Brach’s guided meditations

McQuarie University Center for Emotional Health guided meditation

Headspace Meditation App

 

Make space for grief

Coronavirus is impacting us all in a range of ways, and grief is a reasonable thing to feel. You may be experiencing a range of grief-related emotions – anger, helplessness, sadness, guilt, fear, confusion – and you may not be certain of their source or their target. You may, for example, feel grief for the everyday losses you are experiencing, for someone close to you, for people in stories you read, for humanity in general, for suffering creatures everywhere, or for the whole of our planet. It’s okay to be feeling these things (and it’s also okay to not be feeling them). Make a little space for the grief to breathe. It just wants to be felt.

Some resources for working with grief:

Center for Loss & Life Transition

Option B

Pema Chödrön books

 

Find outlets for your anger

Right now, a lot of people are feeling angry at the Covid situation.  Sometimes that anger arises from feelings of helplessness, sometimes from fear, sometimes from hurt.  Yet, your anger might feel scary or destructive.  You may have internalized certain gender or racial stereotypes around who is and is not allowed to be angry.  But, the truth is:  we all have a right to feel our anger.  Anger arises in response to threat; it’s a very protective emotion, and it’s there to tell us when something is not working for us.  It can be helpful to find an appropriate outlet for it.

Here are some ideas:

    • walk, run, jump, dance it off
    • write about it (even more effective if you write by hand)
    • sit in a chair across from an empty chair; then, imagine the object of your anger is in the empty chair and tell them what you’re feeling
    • vent with friends
    • put on your favorite angry song and belt it out
    • turn your anger into action — make a change around what in your personal or work life you feel angry about
    • engage in some form of activism that addresses what you feel angry about on a more systemic scale:  organize others, collect funds or goods for those in need, volunteer, contact political leaders

 

Appreciate what is working

Try offering appreciation to co-workers, grocery store checkers, mail carriers, medical professionals, other essential laborers, as well as to friends, family, roommates, and to yourself. It’s a research-based approach to increasing well-being. Bringing your awareness to what is going well in the world can also help. Positive news and animal cams are a place to start.

Good News Network

Yes! Magazine

Reasons to Be Cheerful

San Diego Zoo

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Bat World Sanctuary

 

Help others

Focusing on others’ needs is another research-based approach to reducing anxiety and depression and increasing your well-being. Again, this is also something you can actually do to make a difference. There are lots of ways to help. Here are a few ideas.

Donate blood

Foster an animal with PAWS, or Seattle Animal Shelter’s Foster Dog Program or Foster Cat Program

Support Food Lifeline

United Way lists safe volunteer opportunities.

Intentionalist helps you search for local small businesses to support.

Or, buy groceries/run errands for an elderly or at-risk neighbor