Things That Matter

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Causing Us Unprecedented Stress, Here Are 9 Techniques To Help You Relax

So, Mental Health Awareness month has come just as pretty much of all us are having to face a strange world of Coronavirus fears, lockdown anxiety, loneliness, and boredom. With all that we are having to face right now I can’t think of a better time to visit some much-needed tips on how to deal with stress.

Obviously, stress is inevitable, but too much stress can negatively impact your mood, relationships, sleep routine, and even how your body functions. And given that we are living in such uncertain times, I think it’s fair to say we’re all facing a bit more stress than normal.

If you’re trying to figure out how to best manage your stress, there are some therapist-approved tips ahead.

1. Practice Tolerating Uncertainty

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study during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic showed that people who had a harder time accepting the uncertainty of the situation were more likely to experience elevated anxiety.

The solution is to learn to gradually face uncertainty in daily life by easing back on certainty-seeking behaviors. 

Start small: Don’t text your friend immediately the next time you need an answer to a question. Go on a hike without checking the weather beforehand. As you build your tolerance-of-uncertainty muscle, you can work to reduce the number of times a day you consult the internet for updates on the outbreak.

2. Tackle the Anxiety Paradox

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Anxiety rises proportionally to how much one tries to get rid of it.

Struggling against anxiety can take many forms. People might try to distract themselves by drinking, eating or watching Netflix more than usual. They might repeatedly seek reassurance from friends, family or health experts. Or they might obsessively check news streams, hoping to calm their fears. Although these behaviors can help momentarily, they can make anxiety worse in the long run. Avoiding the experience of anxiety almost always backfires. 

Instead, allow your anxious thoughts, feelings and physical sensations to wash over you, accepting anxiety as an integral part of human experience

3. Center Yourself When Anxiety Hits

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If you feel your anxiety levels rising, the first thing to do is take a couple of deep breaths. This is a simple technique to calm yourself and engage the parts of your brain that deal with focus, memory, and problem-solving (your prefrontal cortex). From there, it’s recommended to bring your awareness to your feet or “feeling your feet,” a mindfulness exercise that will “literally ground you.”

4. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation

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If you’re feeling stressed, Jessie Bohnenkamp, LPC, NCC, founder of Plum Counseling and Wellness, recommends trying a technique called progressive muscle relaxation. “Often, when we’re feeling stressed, we tense up parts of our body, which then sends signals to our brain that we’re unsafe and need to be on guard for danger,” she states on her website.

To counteract this, lie on your back, or in a comfortable position, and starting with your toes, focus on fully relaxing each muscle group, or body part, moving slowly up your body as you let all of the tension drain away.

5. Strengthen Self-Care

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During these anxiety-provoking times, it’s important to remember the tried-and-true anxiety prevention and reduction strategies. Get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, spend time in nature and employ relaxation techniques when stressed. 

Prioritizing these behaviors during the coronavirus crisis can go a long way toward increasing your psychological well being and bolstering your immune system.

6. Stretch Every Day

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Stretching isn’t just reserved for runners and people who lift weights. Dr. Tasha Holland-Kornegay, PhD, LPC, founder of Wellness IRL, a platform to reduce healthcare provider burnout, recommends stretching daily to help relieve stress and relax.

While it may seem like a lot of work, you can simply stand in a doorway and try to stretch your arms apart, trying to reach the upper sides of the doorframe. Hold for 90 seconds and then release. These simple exercises will entice the nervous system and boost your energy,” according to Holland-Kornegay.

7. Limit Social Media and the News

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OK, it’s hard but you should really only be using social media to stay in touch with friends and family when you might start to feel isolated. If you’re like me and use Facebook and Twitter to also get your news, then be smart about it. Follow a few verified news outlets that you trust, as well as the Center For Disease Control and the World Health Organization, for news that’s accurate and up to date. It’s fine to unfollow or block sources that are only causing you anxiety. 

It’s also really good practice to only allow yourself certain times of the day to check your news feeds and social media.

8. Establish A Routine

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Ok, so this one is really hard for me. I’m someone who is always rebelling against routine but it can be a huge help in times like these. Having a daily routine gives you sense of structure that can really be vital for managing emotional stress during uncertain times.

Decide what your priorities are right now and set boundaries between different activities, especially if you’re transitioning to a work-from-home setup. Remembering to take time to exercise, eat well, connect with people you care about, and do simple things that bring you joy is also foundational to maintaining your emotional resilience under pressure.

9. Talk To Yourself About Yourself

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Yea, this one might take some getting used to but it can really help. According to Jason Moser, PhD, director of Michigan State University’s clinical psychophysiology lab, “Third-person self-talk can be used across the board as you’re anticipating a stressful event, as you’re feeling anxiety in the moment, or when you’re dealing with something that caused stress and anxiety in the past, like rejection or failure.”

To self-talk, all you have to do is talk to yourself about the stressful event in the third-person, Dr. Moser explains. For example, you could ask yourself a series of questions. “When you’re using your own name, the brain switches to another mode as if you’re talking to someone else. In a nutshell, what happens is that you’re creating a psychological distance between you and the issue you’re facing.”

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Latinas Are Offering Advice To Undocumented Women, New Moms And Those Who Are Struggling On How To Receive Affordable Therapy

Fierce

Latinas Are Offering Advice To Undocumented Women, New Moms And Those Who Are Struggling On How To Receive Affordable Therapy

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Finding the best psychologist or mental health worker for you isn’t an easy feat.

For one, finding someone you feel you can trust enough to open up to about your insecurities and inner turmoils is hard enough but finding someone who is covered by your health insurance can be even more difficult. On top of that, factors like location and time often come into play. Women of color in particular face a certain type of challenge when it comes to mental health care. According to the American Psychological Association, just 5.3% of psychologists in the United States are Black. Eighty-three percent are white. This means finding a mental health provider who can connect with your personal experiences can be beyond difficult.

We asked our users on Fierce for mental health provider tips and received some pretty inciteful answers.

Check them out below!


“Ask about sliding scales (cost based on income), check with insurance provider, apply for government-funded health care benefits, seek support from your child’s school—can refer you to a provider, college students can ask about on-campus services, workplace can also direct you to resources. Being resourceful is so important especially when it comes to our well-being. Hope this helps.” –karinalizlu

“Just started BetterHelp and they offer financial assistance. Got matched with the first therapist that I actually like after 10 years of trying. Highly recommend!”-marilynscarlet

“Ask your HR department if they have an Employment Assistance Program. If they do it means that the employer covers a certain amount of sessions with a therapist, counselor, psychologist, etc. which means you pay nothing for those first few sessions. Some EAP’s also cover the first meeting with financial advisors, lawyers & a bunch of other things!”- dee_anes

“I agree! So many times I’ve needed therapy but I couldn’t afford it. I’ve had to use what I got.” –ladinesphotographypage

“TherapyForBlackGirls.com has a great directory for BIPOC and POC!”-eileen.the.machine

“BetterHelp and SimplePractice are remote licensed therapist that offer sliding scale as low as $75 a session.”-rocio_rami5
“Some insurances are covering copays on sessions because of the pandemic! Check with your insurance!”- b_diaz990

“If your insurance includes Teledoc, each therapy session is $5 out of pocket. Yes it’s virtual, but everything else is right now! I truly appreciate my therapist and I’m grateful it’s not $40 a session like it used to be.”- livsimplyfl

“BetterHelp offers financial assistance.” –yessikahwamiwez

“Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a good nationwide starting point: https://www.samhsa.gov.” – karinalizlu

“Check healingconnections-Therapy.com/blog. I’m a therapist and wrote a post on the accessibility of therapy. There’s therapy for every price point!” – gyera19

“Yes!!! 1000%. Many community colleges and universities have resources as part of student services. You can start there if you’re a student. Or reach out to a local therapist and ask if they know of local low cost options.” –runeatrepeat

“Federally qualified health care centers many times they offer counseling on a sliding fee scale!” –amor805

“If in Cali: reach out to Department of Mental Health. (DMH). If your child is under the age of 15 they can provide respite services. This is to help get a diagnosis or help families who have a child with a diagnosis.”- 143kimberly

“Hello! I am a graduate counseling student about to have my M.Ed in professional mental health counseling. Some long time friends and I have started a small business, and we’d love you to follow us along on our journey as well!” –mindful_resolutions4u

“We are Mindful Resolutions, a holistic wellness company that creates affordable courses based on the 8 dimensional model of wellness! Our goal is to bring wellness/mental health education and coping skills to people who wouldn’t normally be able to access or afford therapy, or for those who want an additional resource. A course is only $49.99 compared to $80 or more for an average therapy session!”- Mindful Resolutions


“Open season is coming up! Time to review your healthcare costs and make sure your insurance meets your needs. If there are barriers to preventing you from affording health insurance, check out state or local Medicaid and ACÁ options.” –brittsticks

@openpathpsychotherapy has sessions from $30-$60 and a wide selection of therapists that you can select based on their intersections (race, gender, etc) and what they specialize in.” –gangstahippie04


@backtalkservices has been a great resource for providing BIPOC LGBTQ folx with therapy.”- tytanjames

@openpathpsychotherapy one time membership fee then you can see a therapist for less than $60 a session. However much you and the therapist agree to. Highly recommend!” –mssantoyo

“Check out Therapists on @openpathpsychotherapy1w.” –therapy.girl

“For essential workers in California, therapy is being provided for free through www.covid19counselingca.com. @latinxtherapy is offering free therapy to farm workers and janitorial workers currently working in hospital settings anywhere in the US. And finally, for all others, @openpathpsychotherapy offers low cost therapy throughout the US.” –julimuli246

@contigo_wellness Nonprofit created to help make therapy more accessible!” –angelrod8032

@fiercebymitu we host free virtual Pranic Healing nights every Tuesday from 7:30pm to 10pm. The participant will enjoy twenty five minutes of energy healing focused on reducing stress, anxiety and tension. Please dm me for more info.”-marcelaarrietaofficial

@marinalcsw if you have any recommendations.”- leeladm

@therapyforlatinx has an incredible database of therapists!”- diosa_yesi

“Free therapy for undocumented youth through @immigrantsrising1w.” –yessbianca

“Affordable mental health care is important, but what about the wait times? My mother tried to get therapy but had to wait 6months before getting a session. This was BEFORE the pandemic. When affordable is important, so is wait time.”- hannibelle_

@fiercebymitu Cannabis can be used to check in and get a mental break. @calibueno.co we bring clean cannabis to diverse communities in the SF Bays area.” –calibueno.co

“If you’re in austin, tx there is sliding scale therapy and psychiatric care they austin Travis county integral care.” –ernipie

“National Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Hotlines like 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE) can connect Survivors with local centers that offer many services—some include therapists and psychiatrists for medication, as well.” –godwasawoman

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

If You’ve Been Struggling with College During COVID, These Tips Might Help You Cope

Things That Matter

If You’ve Been Struggling with College During COVID, These Tips Might Help You Cope

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Covid-19 is changing the all-American college experience. There is no more late-night munchie runs at 3 a.m., house party hopping, or late-night cramming with friends in the library. The spirit has completely changed, but all for the greater good of keeping others healthy and safe.

Still, that doesn’t discredit the fact that we are losing the value of our education by it moving online. We’re no longer able to use the campus as a resource to help fuel ourselves academically or socially. We long for the day we are able to build a sense of community again.

Here’s how Covid has changed the college experience and what you can do to make it better.

The Move to Online

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Being a college senior myself, remote learning has taken a huge toll on me. My days are lengthened with logging on to Zoom for everything, and yes- even my pair of blue-light glasses can’t keep me focused.

I find myself eagerly waiting for my professor to say “That’s it for today everyone,” and sometimes can only hang in there for half of the time. I’m constantly left feeling anxious and frustrated.

I was sure that universities would begin to understand how different students cope with a very tricky, unstable, and scary situation at hand. However, I’ve experienced the opposite. An overwhelming influx of papers, online assignments, and weekly quizzes quickly presented themselves. Not to mention more group projects. Weekends soon became “working-weekends” and with assignments piling up I truly felt like I was drowning.

It wasn’t long until I had to think for myself. How am I going to cope with the now? I needed to figure out the best plan I could to navigate something out of mine and everyone else’s control. If you too are struggling during this time whether it be financially, academically, emotionally, etc, please know you are not alone. Below are some resources that might help each day go by just a little better than the last, and hopefully give you peace of mind.

Finances:

COVID Emergency Assistance Funds

The last thing that we want to do is pay full price for online learning, especially during a pandemic. So check with your college or university about COVID Emergency Assistance/Relief Funds. This has greatly helped students access resources such as food, housing, course materials, technology, and affordable health care. In some cases, they even pay you to be at home. Additionally, FAFSA is allowing students to get even more aid granted despite if they were already given their semester disbursement- so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Visit your official college website & https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa for more information.

Scholarships

Trust me, we all could use a little help in this area. Luckily, Tuition Funding Sources’s (TFS) database connects students to monthly scholarships based on needs, wants, and qualifications. They have highlighted “scholarships of the day” as well as career aptitude tests that can help your search become even more personal.

Businesses are also partnering up right now to help students around the world get the support they need to further their education. The McDonald’s® HACER ® National Scholarship assists Latino students to be front and center and attain the education they deserve. In 2019, more than $500,000 was granted to 30 students in order to help finance tuition costs. And better yet, The 2020-2021 application period just opened October 5th.

For more information on how to apply for the listed scholarships, visit https://www.tuitionfundingsources.com  or https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/community/hacer.html .

Mental Health & Well-Being:

Headspace

This app is a lifesaver. From brief wellbeing exercises to longer guided meditation, Headspace is offering free downloadable tracks that can help you ease your mind at home or on-the-go anywhere and anytime. Tune in when you need a break or to re-center yourself.  

Visit https://www.headspace.com/covid-19 to see what tracks are available now.

Podcasts

Sometimes hearing someone speak and having an honest conversation about a certain topic is really fun to engage with. It provides us another perspective other than their are own, and it’s interesting to get a glimpse at the way other people live. Taking 30 minutes out of your day to listen to an episode can help ease some stress, reminding you that others are by your side who, too, have felt the same chaos.

For a great selection of podcasts, search Spotify or Apple Podcasts to start the search on some good series.

Be Patient with Yourself

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Remember, this pandemic is not forever although it might feel like it right now. Do not feel like you are responsible for the frustration you are undergoing. Take some time to care for yourself and take a step back from the craziness of the world to remind yourself that things will get better.

Talk to a friend, counselor, or therapist if you find yourself in a crisis more than you can bear. Crisis Text Line offers free, 24/7 service to anyone who needs some support and wants to speak with someone. What’s nice is you have the option to either call or text, depending on what’s most comfortable and effective for you. 

Visit https://www.crisistextline.org to get free 24/7 support whenever, wherever. 

Other Tips

Zoom Party

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Get-togethers are looking a lot different right now, but you can still plan an event that will keep all of your friends together. Zoom can be a wonderful platform not only for the classroom, but to catch up with everyone. Plan a “Whine Night” where you talk about all things life or vibe to shared music. Your university should give you an unlimited personal meeting room link so you don’t have to pay a dime for the time.

Virtual Social Hours

Many universities are offering virtual social hours so students can connect to each other and get more of a sense of community as we navigate through the days. Check online on your school’s website to see what types of activities they are offering students at this time, and what events might fit your personal or career interests.  You never know who you might meet!

Find Your Hobby 

Having a go-to hobby during this time can give you something to look forward to and be an escape from all the ongoing chaos. Look into things like surfing, socially distanced yoga classes, cooking, or hiking to get you feeling joyful and inspired. Try one thing out and see if you like it, and if not who says you can’t just move to the next thing? You’ll be surprised at what you discover will be your next “thing.”


The pandemic has definitely made college life and life, in general, a whole lot harder. Know that it is completely normal to feel mad, sad, scared, or anxious about what’s to come. With these tips, my only wish is that they help you cope just a bit more as they have for me. Together we will get through this, slowly but surely.

READ: A 13-Year-Old Student Just Became A California College’s Youngest Graduate

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