We are living in frightening times. COVID-19 pandemic has disturbed life all across the globe and contributed to a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety. While some of us are already living in cities and towns that have been affected by the novel coronavirus, others are bracing for what is to come. Our daily lives have been interrupted, and the constant media coverage of the outbreak has given rise to feelings of stress and anxiety. Technology has come of your rescue, as there are a variety of apps and resources that can help ease your feelings and anxiety and help to calm you down.
1. Video chat
With most people practicing social distancing and avoiding close contact with one another, video chats are the best way to stay connected with family and friends. Video chat apps like Facetime, Google Hangouts, Hangout meet, Skype, and Whatsapp allow families to get together without leaving your home.
Use these apps to check in on your elderly family members who are in isolation due to their age or health conditions. When you talk to others on these apps, don’t let coronavirus dominate every conversation. Laugh, share exciting stories, and talk about other things in your life.
2. Meditation apps
Mindfulness training and meditation are great ways to deal with stress. Several apps help you deal with stress. Stop Breathe and Think is one of the first and popular mindfulness and meditation apps. It features a daily check-in that gauges your stress levels. The Calm app also has guided mindfulness and mediation exercises that help in dealing with anxiety.
Headspace also provides free sessions to deal with moments of panic and stress. This app also has 2 to 3-minute sessions on mediation and animations that teach skills about mindfulness.
Massage therapy is effective in treating stress and anxiety. It reduces stress and elicits a feeling of calm. It involves manipulating muscles by kneading, rubbing, pressing, and patting different muscle groups. Though massage is helpful, it is not possible to visit a spa while following social distancing. Self-massage is useful in such a scenario. Self-massages help to improve circulation, relax muscles, and keep your body working well.
Several online tutorials help you massage specific body parts like feet, legs, back, and hands. Websites like stress-free-mama.com provide detailed instructions to massage your stress away. Chandler Rose, a licensed massage therapist, also teaches simple self-massage techniques for face, neck, and shoulders through videos posted online (1).
Yoga is a mind-body practice that can help reduce stress. It brings together physical and mental disciplines to help give you the peacefulness of body and mind. It doesn’t take much space or equipment, and you can quickly do this at home.
6. Read e-books or listen to audiobooks
Reading is a proven way to reduce stress. When you open a book, you are distracted from the stressors in your life, and you relax. Find a book that interests you; it could be a romantic paperback, a cookbook, or even a gardening book. Libby, an app from Overdrive lets you borrow and read books and audiobooks from your local public library for free. Bookriot is also a great guide to which books you may want to read and also how to make your audiobook experience better.
7. Enjoy live music
With venues closed and concerts canceled due to coronavirus, many artists are taking their music online to share it with their fans. From Miley Cyrus to the New York Metropolitan Opera, you can watch it all from the safety of your couch. Billboard is starting to livestream its concerts on its Facebook page. Sites like Stageit have been streaming shows for less-known artists for years. Fans of county and folk can listen to the Shut in & Sing series that is broadcast daily on Stageit.
8. Free laughs
Comedy clubs are closed, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a few cheap laughs. Comedy Cellar brings you free livestreamed comedy during the quarantine. You can see new Coronavirus theme sets from New York and other shows from Cellar in Vegas. Comedian Steve Hofstetter’s Social Distancing Social Club Interview and Show is also aired every day.
9. Free zoo and aquarium visits
With zoos and aquariums closed to the public, many zoos are using digital technology to meet your favorite animals. At the National Zoo, you can say hello to pandas, elephants, lions, and naked mole rats through webcams. The Monterey Bay Aquarium may be closed to the public, but you can see leopard sharks, moon jellyfish, and sea turtles by tuning into a webcam there. You can also tune into Blacktip Reef, Jellies Invasion, and Pacific Coral Reef livestreams at the National Aquarium.
10. Witness wildlife
Watching animals in their natural habitat can be a soothing experience. We humans may be stressing out these days, but animals are out and about following their simple daily routine. You can witness these animals in their natural habitats live through Explore.org. From elephants at Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa to Hippos at Mpala Research Centre in Kenya, you can see it all here.
11. Take a virtual museum tour
Museums around the world are offering virtual tours to people who have to stay at home. The British Museum, London, allows visitors to tour the Great Court and discover Egyptian mummies and the ancient Rosetta Stone. You can view works of art from the Impressionist, Post-impressionist, Modern, and Contemporary eras at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, through Google’s Street View feature. If you’re a fan of Van Gogh, you can visit the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam virtually and see his paintings, drawings, and personal letters.
12. Take a tour of natural parks
All the National Parks in the US are full of wonders that most of us are unable to visit. You can now visit all these National Parks sitting in the comfort of your home with the help of The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks, an interactive documentary and exhibit from Google Arts and Culture. Through this interactive documentary, you can take 360-degree tours through some of the most remote and breathtaking places in different National Parks.
13. Do not check the news frequently
It is important to keep yourself updated with news that is happening around you. But there is several misleading news are making rounds on social media platforms and elsewhere on the internet. You should check the news from trustworthy channels within your country, preferably local government websites. Also, you can look for information from other non-profit websites such as CDC, WHO, etc.
You should not check the news more than 1-2 times a day. Also, do not join unnecessarily any social media group for frequent updates.
It is quite natural for you to feel stressed and anxious as events and stories related to coronavirus unfold. However, too much stress and anxiety can hurt your immunity and health. Make the most of the reality that you are in. Instead of focussing on things that you cannot do like going out and meeting your friends, focus on things that you can do from the safety of your home.
You can video chat with your friends and relatives. Try yoga, meditation, and self-massage to ease your mind and body. Catch up on all the reading that you haven’t been able to do cause you were too busy. You can also see live music shows and enjoy some good laughs through stand up comedies streamed live. Enjoy virtual tours of zoos, aquariums, wildlife sanctuaries, National Parks, and museums with your children. Doing these activities can help you manage stress and add a sense of normalcy to help you and those around you, especially children.