We all need an air hug. Or one of those elbow bumps everyone keeps talking about.

COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives, and for many, the future feels uncertain. Local businesses are closing. Schools have suspended classes. And community pillars like libraries, churches, and museums have shut down. In some cities, the streets are empty and eerily quiet.

Feeling anxious or lonely? Same here.

In troubling times, we need to tend as much to our mental health as we do to our physical well-being. Below are ways to check in with yourself and remain as centered as you can during this uncertain time.

  • Meditate: Meditation is a great way to alleviate stress. You can check out our beginner’s guide here as well as our ideas for meditating while working from home here.
  • Take a breath: Whether you’re working from home, waiting in a really long line at the grocery store, or entertaining kids home from school, remember to take a moment to breathe. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, close your eyes and take five deep, belly breaths. Stretch your arms and shoulders to release tension, and if you’ve been sitting, stand up to stretch your legs. You can even set reminders on your phone or work calendar to take breathing breaks throughout the day.
  • Seek connection where you can: With officials encouraging us to stay away from large gatherings and companies asking employees to work from home, it’s important to find safe ways to feel connected. Make a list of friends, family members, and old colleagues to call—ideally over video chat so you can see the person as well. Try watching Ted Talks or live musical performances on YouTube. Find a comedy special with a live audience. Look for ways to enjoy the things you love from home.
  • Unplug if needed: If the constant stream of pandemic news is contributing to your anxiety, it’s okay to unplug. Feel free to mute news or social media apps. And if a well-meaning friend or relative is constantly calling to talk through their anxiety, it’s okay to tell them you’d rather not discuss the virus today. Just make you have a way to receive any emergency messages, just in case someone needs to reach you.
  • Help your community: With many people staying at home, local businesses are struggling to stay open and hourly workers are losing much-needed income. If you’re able, supporting these mom-and-pops is a great way to spread positivity during this troubling time. If you feel comfortable, make a quick stop to your local coffee shop, pick up a book from the mom-and-pop around the corner, or order takeout from the nearby Thai restaurant. If local stores offer online ordering, even better! You can also make donations to local food banks and homeless shelters to help people in need during the outbreak.
  • Practice gratitude: Practicing gratitude helps train your mind to think positively and will help you get better at seeing the bright side of challenging situations. There are so many ways to practice gratitude, so you can pick the one that works best for your schedule and needs. Here are a few ideas:
    • Morning coffee: When you sit down with your morning coffee, take a moment to think about three things for which you are grateful. They can be big things like your health or small things like a new episode of a television dropping that evening.
    • Journal: Set aside 2-5 minutes each day to journal about the things for which you are grateful. It can be a list or a ramble, whatever feels best. 
    • Jar: Each morning or evening, write down something positive on a slip of paper, fold it up, and place it in a jar or box. Every week—or whenever you are feeling down—open the jar or box and read one thing you wrote for a burst of gratitude and positivity.
    • Partner: Finding a gratitude partner is a great way to help spread positivity and feel connected. Text a friend or family member something that makes you grateful each day and have them text you their gratitude statement in return. You could also schedule short phone calls or video chat to discuss the things that make you grateful for an extra sense of connection.

The Be team is here for you during these uncertain times and hope our tips give you a sense of relief. Leave us a comment about what you’re doing to take care of your mental health during the outbreak—other readers could benefit from hearing your tips as well.