Wellness in the Time of Coronavirus
As we work to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, our wellness needs are changing.
There are many reasons for this. As humans, we need social contact. When human interaction is limited, we react on an emotional and physical level. Loneliness has been associated with serious mental and physical conditions like depression, troubled sleep, substance use, and impaired cardiovascular and immune functioning.
Further, many of us are experiencing a great deal of stress related to the current pandemic. This is normal. Coronavirus is a threat to our physical, emotional, professional, and financial wellness. Even if we ourselves don’t feel at risk, we certainly have loved ones or community members who are.
Now more than ever, we need mental health tools. But even that is challenged as it becomes harder to engage in the wellness activities you usually rely on. While many therapy centers, like Viva, are still offering telehealth, shifting away from in-person meetings may be challenging for you. Yoga classes, cycling groups, and even much-needed nights out with friends may no longer be possible in the way they once were.
Never fear: there are plenty of ways to maintain your wellbeing. Here are just a few.
Online Mental Health Resources
For the moments you need a little extra support, online mental health tools can make all the difference.
We’ve gathered our favorite apps, games, blogs, courses, playlists, and more at the Resilient Brain Project. You can focus on everything from stress to low mood to substance use, completely free and anonymously.
Some tools we’ve found particularly helpful in maintaining wellness during the Coronavirus include:
- 5 Yoga Poses That Reduce Stress and Tension: You can do them from home!
- “The Science of Well-Being”: Use your time off to enroll in Yale’s most popular course, about becoming a healthier and happier human
- 70 Productivity Tips: Perfect for those of us who’re struggling to concentrate while working from home
- 5 Ways to Ground Yourself When Anxiety Hits: Tried and true grounding exercises from a clinical psychologist
- “Study Says Making Art Reduces Stress”: Get your creative juices flowing while you’re stuck at home
- Headspace: This app offers guided meditations for stress and anxiety
- #CheckInWithMe: This forum from The Mighty offers social support for when you’re feeling rough
- Medical Trauma PTSD: Is the Coronavirus bringing up trauma symptoms and memories? Get more info about Medical Trauma PTSD and how to soothe it
- “10 Amazing Breathing Exercises for Relaxation”: Try these out between tasks, before sleep, or whenever you like!
Viva is also creating an online video library, featuring experiential exercises related to expressive arts, yoga, and more.
Mind-Body Wellness Spaces
Everyone from yogis to dancers to meditation instructors are taking their expertise online.
These are just some of the resources we found:
- Tara Brach: Tara’s weekly meditation classes are free every Wednesday evening through the foreseeable future
- Fitragamuffin: Group fitness classes (Zumba, HIIT) are free this week! Click “schedule live sessions” to pick yours
- Tutu Mora: Free pilates, breathwork, and qigong resources
- Lina Salazar: Lina is hosting a free, virtual women’s group on March 25th. It will focus on stress eating and how we can avoid it during COVID-19.
- Planet Fitness will be offering free, 20-minute workout sessions via Facebook Live daily at 7 PM
- Viva: In addition to our online community gathering, we’ll be sharing free videos on trauma-sensitive yoga, parenting while social distancing, implicit memory, and more in the coming days. Make sure to follow our Facebook page to get these resources as soon as they hit the web
- Wild Wisdom: Audio and video resources for movement, nature therapy, meditation, and more, for a small subscription fee
- All the yogis: Everyone from Yoga District to our own Arielle Mesa, LGSW, RYT will be offering online classes in the coming weeks
Know of another resource we should be sharing? Let us know! We’re always happy to promote community wellness efforts.
As Melanie Shapiro writes in her recent piece for Elite Daily, isolating yourself during a stressful time “can be mentally and emotionally difficult.” Yet there are ways you can stay connected to others while doing your part to slow COVID-19 contagion.
Think of social distancing as an opportunity to get creative with how you communicate.
Here are a few ways to connect with others via the web, phone, and more:
- Switch your usual hangout to Google, Skype, Facetime, etc. You can catch up via chat, host a group happy hour, use the Netflix chrome extension to watch your favorite show together…the possibilities are endless!
- Create a group text where your friends can share what’s making them happy. The main risk here is that you might get sick of interacting with everyone and need a break!
- Go on video dates. It’s the perfect way to learn if you’re interested in someone without hiking across town to meet up with them. This is one strategy we may carry into post-Coronavirus life.
Check out Melanie’s article for additional ideas.
You can also take advantage of the many group classes and screenings that various people and businesses are hosting during the social distancing period.
The Viva Center itself is launching a weekly, virtual meetup, hosted by Dr. Julie Lopez, LICSW. This meetup, Learning Through Connection, will provide a place for us to talk about stress, normal mental health reactions to the Coronavirus, and ways we can maintain wellbeing.
Learning Through Connection is completely free and accessible via Zoom. Meetings will occur every Friday at 12 EST, starting March 20th. We hope to see you there!
Sometimes, group chats and yoga aren’t enough. For those of us who need extra support, e-therapy can be a fantastic option.
The Viva Center is proud to offer telehealth options for those who’d like professional guidance from the safety of their home. We’re opening up extra spots to help our community navigate this difficult time; if you’re interested, schedule your appointment here.
What resources are you using to stay happy and healthy while social distancing? Let us know and we’ll share them! As a famous Disney musical once proclaimed, we’re all in this together. Let’s take care of one another.
Lilly McGee is Viva’s Director of Operations and Communication and supervisor of the Resilient Brain Project. A published poet, she enjoys writing about mental health, literature, and identity. Other blogs include How to Survive (and Thrive) in an Unhealthy Work Environment and What is Trauma-Informed Care?.