With schools closing, restaurants shutting down and public transit slowing, many of us in the Fox School community may feel the same way—anxious. The COVID-19 outbreak has affected the daily lives of millions of people as officials around the country try to stop the spread of the virus.
We asked experts from the Fox School community about their tips for ways to get through this period and help you manage your stress.
1. Be prepared. Crystal Reeck, associate professor in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, spoke to Philadelphia Magazine about preparing for the COVID-19 outbreak. Reeck says, “Preparation is one thing you can do to change your circumstances and help mitigate your anxiety about the risk.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines how to protect yourself, your family and your home with frequent hand-washing, self-quarantines, and cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces. Recognize that the outbreak is going to get worse before it gets better; if you or someone you know is sick, know how to act.
2. Employ mindfulness. What is mindfulness? In part, says Ravi Kudesia, assistant professor in the Department of Human Resource Management, mindfulness is “the crucial human ability to step back and monitor one’s mental activity.”
It’s valuable to take a step back from this situation and observe your mental state without judgment. Ask yourself questions about what exactly is causing your anxiety; oftentimes, putting a specific name on the source of your stress can reduce it. Be curious about the way your mind works.
3. Be empathetic. We’re all adjusting to this unique situation, so have patience and be empathetic towards others. “There’s research showing that if people are reminded of a close other when experiencing pain, that pain is not as bad as it would’ve been otherwise,” Reeck says. “Even just being reminded of these social bonds can do a lot to reduce people’s suffering and stress.”
It’s important to be grateful for the healthcare professionals, grocery store employees and emergency workers who are continuing to serve our communities. But this also means having patience with our friends, colleagues and officials who are trying to do the right thing with limited information. Giving them the benefit of the doubt will improve our own mental state.
4. Separate work from home. Ryan Vogel, assistant professor in the Department of Human Resource Management, studies flexible work arrangements and stress. “We need to be conscious of creating some form of mental separation between the personal and the professional,” Vogel says.
Bora Ozkan, academic director of the OMBA and OBBA programs, reinforced those findings with his tips for online learning. Designate an area—whether it’s a room or a desk in a book—that becomes your work zone. Give yourself regular breaks so you don’t get burnt out. Try to limit distractions during class or work hours. Then, make lists at the end of a day to let go of stressors overnight.
5. Practice meditation and relaxation techniques. Guided meditation can help manage your stress, says Maureen Cannon, senior associate director for Fox Management Consulting. “Meditation helps us understand the cycle of how our thoughts lead to emotions and emotions lead to action,” says Cannon, who is also a certified yoga therapist and has been studying various styles of meditation for over 20 years. “Then we can choose how to use our thoughts, emotions and behaviors in ways that support the outcomes we desire.”
Cannon suggests apps like Meditation Timer, Calm and Insight Timer that can help you try different teachers, styles and formats of guided meditation. Even fifteen minutes of mindfulness can help refocus your worries.
6. Understand that your community supports you. The Temple University community is here for you. Fox’s Department of Online and Digital Learning has developed weekly workshops on how to manage the transition to online classes. The Wellness Resource Center offers support for a variety of wellbeing services, including healthy stress management strategies and peer counseling. Social interaction during a time of self-quarantine might be challenging, but it’s crucial to keeping a positive attitude. Keep in touch with friends and family through video chats and online games.
This change is happening to all of us. Know that you are surrounded by a supportive community committed to ensuring high-quality education and remember that we will all get through this together. Have patience, be kind and take care of yourself. Stay informed at temple.edu/coronavirus.