After 6 weeks Coronavirus updates are still dominating news cycles, social media feeds, conversations and interactions. Entire countries have been shut down and the United States is no exception. The collective has gone through the stages of grief more than a few times and the initial excitement of video chatting everyone you know has worn off. It’s enough to make any one lose it. But there is more at stake here than what your friends may think if you opt out of the next virtual happy hour.
The fear of the unknown is never ending. The constant confusion about fact versus fiction is dizzying. All one can do during this hectic time is try to keep it together. The paramount concern is our physical health, but what about our mental health? During times like these the public hysteria, fear mongering and lack of information catapult many of us into a state of palpable anxiety.
Anxiety causes us to experience stress. Stress has many negative effects on the body such as shrinking the brain, killing brain cells, changing your brain structure, and hurting memory . Consequently its super important to manage our stress levels, especially during challenging times like these when anxiety is running high.
The troubling thing about the current corona pandemic is the large scale fear and hopelessness felt across the board by all people, regardless of race, color, national origin or political affiliation. Yet, all it not lost. There are still things you can do to help protect your mental health form the weight of uncertainty. Being proactive about protecting your mental health will help you to mitigate the stress & anxiety you are feeling.
Here are 10 things you can do right now get your mind off corona virus and protect you mental health:
1. Take Several Deep Breaths
Staying calm in the face of the unknown is the key to getting through this next few months as we begin to take small steps towards re-opening the country. It is not easy to stay calm when it seems like everyone around you is freaking out and your mind is racing a million miles a minute. You want to remain calm so when necessary you can make educated decisions about what to do next, for you and your family.
Intentionally slowing down your breath, will cause your heart rate to slow which will in turn allow your thoughts to slow. Reconnecting with your breath is a surefire way to return to the present moment and get grounded in your body. Bringing your mind back to the moment is imperative during times like these. It will help you to remember that you can only control your actions.
2. Turn Off the TV
Too much of anything is a bad thing. Give you mind a break from the healdlines, experts, and press conferences to simply process all the information that has already been presented. At this point the whole world knows about the Coronavirus. Every commercial break ends with more Breaking News, there are now podcasts and nightly townhalls dedicated to discussing the pandemic.
Your brain needs time to digest and integrate all the information that’s coming at you. Turning the TV off for a little while could be the best things you’ve done all week. Instead Read a book, take a walk or go outside for a moment. Give yourself permission to reconnect with the right now.
3. Take Your Vitamins
Knowing that you are doing what you can to support a healthy immune system will both strengthen your physical health against the treat of infection and be a balm on your conscious. If it was raining you’d want to wear a rain coat. In this scenario the vitamins are that rain coat.
Focusing your mind on one thing through the practice of mediation has been shown to have incredible positive effects on the brain. There have been multitudinous studies about how meditation benefits our mental well being. During times of mass confusion, its important to anchor yourself in the practice of self-reflection. Knowing who you are at all times is critical to keeping yourself grounded and being able to differentiate between your valid concerns and what may be the concerns of others that have been foisted upon you.
5. Practice Yoga
There could be another 2000 words written about why Yoga is good for you. Yet all that needs to be said is that yoga allows you to powerfully and mindfully reconnect with your body. Taking a moment to rekindle your direct connection to your body can be extremely grounding. The mind can be unruly and loud especially during times of mass panic. Yoga allows you to intentionally tether your mind, body, and breath together to create a empowering unity of being. Navigating the troublesome waters of life is a lot easier when you poses unity of being. Standing on one leg with your arms over your head trying to breath, and be calm will quickly take your mind off the worlds hysteria and bring your focus directly onto you. 
Like Yoga, coloring brings your mind, body, breath into a unison of action that creates a calming effect over you entire nervous system. The actual colors also have a therapeutic effect on you – ancients spoke of the power of color therapy to heal the mind & body. Modern scientist call this phenomena Chromotherapy .
Ancient civilizations in Greece, Egypt, China and India have practiced this for centuries. Yet our modern culture seems to be catching on, one example of this is the LED color therapy feature in saunas. Each color has a unique vibrational frequency which can help to treat and heal you. Therefore when you sit down to color you are not only engaging in an action that will foster unification of your being but you are also actively giving yourself color therapy.
7. Listen to Music
If you are someone struggling with racing thoughts, music maybe the best thing for you. Play something with words that you really lo the melody & message of the music to wash over you. Some studies have shown that music can reduce, pain, depression, and disability. It can even help you sleep better . Sing along, dance in your living room, let yourself be completely in the moment even if its just for 3 minutes until the song is over. Your brain will thank you for those 3 mins.
Studies have shown that physical exercise can reduce stress and help to maintain mental fitness. It has the ability to boost cognitive function, reduce fatigue, improve alertness, and enhance concentration. Similarly to Yoga, Meditation & Coloring, Exercise helps you to become fully engrossed in an activity – mind, body, and breath. It is very difficult to be worried about the corona virus when you are doing a 20 burpee, 15 mountain climber, 10 jumping jacks circuit.
9. Go to Sleep
Sleep is everything. If you have spent your day over thinking, watching TV, eating crappy food, talking on the phone with your very own chicken little then you are probably exhausted. Your mind can only take so much. Staying up late to watch TV or trying to binge shows to get your mind off the news is only going to cause you to go into sleep deficit. Conversely being under too much stress can cause you to have poor sleep, so it’s a little bit of a chicken and the egg scenario.
If you are not sleeping enough you are more susceptible to overwhelm, irritability, anger, lack of patience, emotional outbursts, skipping exercise, lack of interest in your normal activities, and a lack of motivation. Therefore the importance of sleep can not be overstated.
Pick a time to turn off the TV every night and go to bed. Put your phone on do not disturb and give yourself at least 20 minutes of quiet time before bed with no TV. Those 20 minutes will help you to power down your mind. Make this your bedtime routine for a week and see how it feels.
These are challenging times which demand adaptability, compassion and clear decision making. Give yourself permission to clear your mind, cultivate unity of being, be present and step away from the updates. Your mind will thank you. Want more motivation & inspiration like this? Join my mailing list on www.AwildaRivera.com.
“ Surprising Ways that Stress Effects Your Brain” (March 12, 2020)https://www.verywellmind.com/surprising-ways-that-stress-affects-your-brain-2795040
 There’s loads of information related to studies which have tracked the various healing benefits of yoga. Some great resources are the International Association of Yoga Therapists, Yoga-U Online, Harvard Health Publishing via Harvard Medical School.
 A Critical Analysis of Chromotherapy and Its Scientific Evolution.
( www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC12797510) March 13, 2020
 Music and Health. ( https://ww.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/music-and-health ) March 13, 2020
 Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. (https://adaa.org/livign-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety) March 13, 2020
Stress and Sleep: How to Master Stress And Enjoy Restful Sleep Instantly. https://www.stress.org/stress-and-sleep-how-to-master-stress-and-enjoy-restful-sleep-instatly (March 13, 2020)
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Awilda Rivera is a Success Coach, Author, Yogi & Spiritual Advisor. She empowers Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers & Millennials to use the power of self-determination to redefine and achieve success on their own terms. Read the first chapter of her book SUCCESS MATH: A Millenial’s Qualitative Approach for free and get inspired! Visit www.AwildaRivera.com to sign up for her mailing list to stay in the know!