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Tips for coping with stress amid the coronavirus

March 19, 2020, 12:38 PM UTC
Stress
The coronavirus is creating a heavy stress toll
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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Senate passes coronavirus relief legislation, governors step into the spotlight, and you all share your wonderful anti-stress strategies. Have a relaxed Thursday. 

– Staving off stress. Yesterday, Claire asked for your stress-relievers—the techniques or strategies that are helping keep you sane through this chaotic and trying time. And you really came through! Your responses were inspiring—I’m planning to add many of them to my new homebound routine immediately. Here’s a sampling:

Several of you mentioned the soothing effect of listening to podcasts. Audio news and storytelling has become a commuting fixture for many of us (myself included), so it makes sense to incorporate them into your WFH day. M.C. says she’s created some stability to her routine by “still listening to the same podcasts I usually listen to during my commute as I get ready [in the morning].” Another podcast fan, E.R. recommends checking out Encyclopedia Womannica, which profiles women from history. “It’s nice to listen to an uplifting story each morning as I start my day,” she says.

Not surprisingly, working in some type of physical activity, meditation, or breathwork is another theme that came up again and again. L.P. told us that she’s started tuning in to streaming live classes being offered by her regular yoga studio. “They also have an online subscription with prerecorded videos but there’s something comforting about knowing several yogis are tuning in to practice at the same time – it makes me feel less isolated,” she says. For those who don’t have a livestream of choice, K.W. recommends an app called Downdog for unique yoga routines.

If you can exercise outdoors, the sunlight and fresh air will also help. But even opening the windows of your home or apartment can provide a boost, says M.P.: “When we both start up work in the AM, we leave 3-4 windows open for at least 30 minutes. It helps our apartment feel fresh.”

Writing in from Milan, where she’s on her second week of quarantine, S.W. recommends setting your phone to ‘do not disturb’ when you can. “Whenever I need a break from news, texts, insta messages, or calls, whether I’m cooking, working out, (trying to) meditate, DND is very helpful. Being inundated with news and constantly having the same ‘how are you’ conversation can be draining. DND FTW.”

Another tip came from M.C., who is keeping a “gratitude journal.” She says: “It can be so easy to get overwhelmed and upset with all the negative news we’re constantly flooded with. A few highlights: 1) being able to be with family during this time, and 2) technology that makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family. My friends and I even made a list over a text chain yesterday of all the restaurants, bars, and events we are looking forward to going back to once all of this craziness is over! Gives us something to look forward to.”

Our readers from digital self-care startup Shine pointed out that the company has partnered with Mental Health America to create a whole mini-site dedicated to helping people manage their COVID-19-related anxiety. Check it out here.

While we as journalists are generally proponents of keeping up with the news, that doesn’t have to mean reading every little minute-by-minute update. K.S.—who is eight months pregnant while socially isolating with her two-year-old and husband (“to say I’m experiencing stress is an understatement”) has gone on a strict news diet, leaving it to her family to inform her of big developments that she really must know. “I’m trying to stay in my social isolation bubble and make it one day at a time,” she says.

E.H., from rural Washington State, has taken FaceTimes with friends to a new level. “I have thrown myself into organizing fun events for my co-workers and friends via video calls. We’ve done several ‘show and tell’ sessions, some meetings to help figure out what’s for dinner and we’re doing a virtual scavenger hunt next week. For my friends, I’m setting up a virtual book club with video call discussions later this month.” She’s also gotten into computer games: “The virtual reality provides a portal away from my reality. A grown adult buying up expansion packs and reading cheats for Sims 4? Why not.”

With Friday around the corner, we wanted to build on the excellent suggestions for apps and podcasts that you’ve already shared. We’ll all be spending plenty of time at home this weekend, and we’d love to hear your recommendations for how to while away the non-work hours. What books, movies, TV shows, podcasts, games, YouTube videos, and other entertainment do you recommend to your fellow Broadsheeters? Send ‘em our way: Broadsheet@fortune.com

Kristen Bellstrom
kristen.bellstrom@fortune.com
@kayelbee

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Senate and sick leave. The Senate passed the coronavirus relief bill that the House approved last week. This version of the bill scales back some of the paid family and medical leave, but still offers two weeks of emergency sick leave to some workers. CNN

- Pregnant amid a pandemic. What's it like to be pregnant amid a global pandemic? Writer Irin Carmon shares her own experience in The Cut; in the Wall Street Journal, women—some who have tested positive for the coronavirus—describe a time of anxiety. 

- From muscle cars to ventilators. General Motors, led by CEO Mary Barra, is offering to make hospital ventilators in its factories that have been shuttered by the coronavirus outbreak. She's building on legacy of helping out during a crisis: Detroit automakers turned their manufacturing power toward supplying U.S. troops during World War II. Bloomberg

- Cheers, governor. Without strong federal leadership on fighting the coronavirus pandemic, governors are stepping into the spotlight. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listed all the steps her state has taken to fight the virus after President Trump attacked her for criticizing his response. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown is working on protecting elections along with combatting the pandemic. New York Times

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Not so fast... If the federal government is going to bail out major corporations and industries, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a few requirements. To be eligible for assistance, companies must keep workers on their payrolls; institute a $15 minimum wage; and agree to a permanent ban on share buybacks, Warren says. CNN

- Landmark law. New Zealand passed a bill to decriminalize abortion nationwide, removing abortion from the country's Crimes Act and allowing women to choose to have an abortion up until 20 weeks. Advocates had tried to change the law for decades; Jacinda Ardern promised to bring the issue to a vote when she became prime minister. Associated Press

- Move fast? Amid failures in coronavirus testing, some startups are stepping in and trying to make tests more readily available. The birth control telemedicine startup Nurx, run by CEO Varsha Rao, is preparing to launch home testing for COVID-19. Julia Cheek's Everlywell is also introducing home testing

- Lawyer up. Ghislaine Maxwell sued Jeffrey Epstein's estate, arguing that the late convicted sex offender had promised to pay her legal fees, resulting from her alleged involvement in his sex trafficking ring. Maxwell says she had "no knowledge of Epstein's alleged misconduct" and that she has incurred significant costs resulting from her work for his businesses. New York Times

ON MY RADAR

Suddenly, everyone realized how awesome teachers are MEL Magazine

Celeste Ng says Little Fires Everywhere is a challenge to 'well-intentioned' white ladies BuzzFeed

Sen. Amy Klobuchar addresses rumors of joining Biden's ticket as vice president ABC News

PARTING WORDS

"This moment is as true a testament there is to the human spirit." 

-Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on Instagram; they've devoted their account to resources to help people with the physical and mental toll of the coronavirus pandemic