If there has ever been a time to take a moment and truly stand in our emotions, it’s now. While we may not have complete control over many of the external factors that are causing us stress, anger, and fear—police brutality, widespread racial injustice, COVID-19, economic hardship, job loss—we do have power over our reactions and responses in the short term.
We can protest, donate, write letters, demand change, check in on our neighbors and co-workers, rebuild and reform, self-educate, wear masks, and have hard conversations. But we can also meditate and maintain friendships. And we can choose to (or at at least try to) relieve our stress, reduce our anxiety, and keep our bodies healthy. Below are a few online resources to help you stay in the moment and connect with your community.
Breathe, inhale, and embrace the power of mindfulness
Given that many of us are feeling isolated, now many be a good time to take a breath and try to welcome the bit of calm that can accompany such moments. Here are a few online courses and apps to ease you into meditation and mindfulness.
- The UCLA Mindful App boasts bilingual (English/Spanish) offerings and also provides a podcast, specific materials for folks with health conditions, and information about the science of meditation.
- Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance is a free, introductory, online course through Monash University. Topics explored range from empathy to emotional health and mindfulness as a way of life. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into mindfulness techniques, check out a course offered by the same instructors, Maintaining a Mindful Life.
- The Science of Well-Being is a free online course through Yale for people who want to learn to develop their capacity for gratitude and to savor each moment.
- Down Dog is a yoga app that is currently free for educators, health care professionals, and students. For more yoga resources, visit Yoga Journal’s Pandemic Guide to Online Classes.
Here’s more on how mindfulness can help you through tough times.
Things to try with a friend, or five
- Take a train ride without breaking any social distancing guidelines. Invite your travel companions to Zoom (or your preferred tool), share your screen, and open up one of Travel and Leisure’s thirteen featured virtual train rides.
- Write. Start a shared document and invite your friends to contribute. Toss in prompts. Ask everyone to leave a related haiku. Write alternative endings to your favorite shows.
- Read together. Start a book club and check in online to discuss the book. Or find an online copy of your favorite play (or poem), share with friends and do a live reading via Google Hangouts. If you don’t want to read, use these improvisation prompts to get your friends to create their own stories.
- Have fun and laugh. Video chat to catch up, have a dance competition, or work out with your friends. Have a sharing party on Kast, where you can invite others to join as you watch old cartoons, movies, documentaries and more.
- Play games. Apps like Houseparty offer simple built-in games for groups. Card games, board games, other classics and trivia/party games are all available online. Game Pigeon allows you to play games via text.
- Share photos. Share a daily or weekly photograph with someone who might appreciate it. Or, with a group of friends, have a themed photograph challenge. Maybe one week everyone will have to share a photo of something red, and the next something that represents summer.
- Host a virtual cooking competition. Each week have one friend share a list of ingredients with a group of friends, who will use all of the ingredients to prepare a unique but tasty dish. Participants will share photos and notes online, or even attempt to cook simultaneously and then have a virtual meal together.
- Get crafty. Dedicate a time frame for folks to sign in, listen to music together and create arts-and-crafts in their own spaces. If you like, set themes (e.g. everyone should create something floral or something that inspires hope) or ask that everyone use the same medium or watch the same tutorial.
Burned-out on screen time?
We spend a lot of time online, especially now. If you need a break from screens consider engaging in some of the below activities.
- Write letters. Reach out to relatives, old friends and people you admire. Is there a book you read fifteen years ago that still resonates with you today? Let the author know. Remember the advice your aunt gave you before graduation? Thank her. You don’t even need to go to the post office to buy stamps! And, if you have paper, tape, and glue, you can even make your own envelope.
- Reflect. Try journaling about your day or making lists of things you’re grateful for or wish were different. Meditate without the apps mentioned above by paying attention to your breath and simply coming back to it whenever your mind drifts elsewhere.
- Draw, doodle, and color. Use markers, pencils, pens and anything else you desire to mark up a page—or, if you’re feeling risky, a wall.
- Pamper yourself or someone else in your household. Add epsom salt and hot water and enjoy a bath or foot soak. Mix together ingredients in your pantry to make a face mask or scrub. Get dressed up. Go outside without going anywhere.
- Subscribe to a magazine or newspaper and have it delivered to your home for screen-free reading.
- Get fresh air and move. If you’re able, go on a stroll. Dance around. Whether indoors or outdoors, do exercises that feel good and don’t require you to follow anyone.
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Sheena Daree Miller is based in Brooklyn and divides her time between working in faculty development at a university and managing a black heritage center at a library. She is committed to promoting equity, with an emphasis on supporting graduating students and career changers.