A Coronavirus Care Package: Care For Yourself, Others and Still Have Fun

It has been a week, y'all.

The news is changing so fast that it's pretty hard to put it into a podcast. So the Bay Curious team decided to focus on something a little bit different in these dark times: We're bringing you an audio care package.

In this week's episode (hit play button under the headline listen) we've got tips on how to care for yourself and others, an inspiring story about how one neighbor is helping another, and a tour through the creative world of digital gatherings to help you make the most of this challenging time.

Tips on how to keep your chill

KQED's arts and culture editor Nastia Voynovskaya is a guiding light for how to keep chill during challenging times. Here are some of her tips.

On how to cope:

First, limit your exposure to the news.  Read reliable fact-based reporting to keep yourself informed, but don't feel like you have to read everything that's out there — especially if it's stressing you out and giving you anxiety. Feel free to take a walk. Read a book. Get off your phone or your computer. Turn off notifications and take a break.

On remembering to move your body: 

There's only so much time you can spend sitting down. Make sure to take walks outside. Run if you can. Hiking is still allowed as long as you stay at least six feet away from other people. There is also  a wealth of free yoga and fitness classes on YouTube to take advantage of. These are really high anxiety times for people — there's a free meditation app I really like to use called Insight Timer.

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On keeping your mind stimulated:

Make sure you're keeping yourself stimulated and occupying your brain. I personally love to listen to podcasts like Snap Judgment, a storytelling show that doesn't have to do with today's news.

It's a great chance to learn a new skill or try a new craft. Crossword puzzles are great. There's also a free app called Libby, where you can use your library card to borrow books and audiobooks. A lot of artists are also using Instagram Live to livestream their concerts or classes.

On how to stay connected:

Don't forget to schedule FaceTime and Zoom calls with your friends. Some of my friends have been getting creative by doing karaoke on Zoom. I want to do craft parties. You can also do a book or movie club over FaceTime.

Don't forget to check in on people that might be isolated, whether they're sick, elderly, or they have an immune disorder or another underlying condition that makes it especially risky for them to go outside right now.

More tips: Self-Care Tips to Get You Through the New Coronavirus Normal

When helping others is the best self-care

There are some really amazing stories of neighbors helping neighbors through this crisis already. Katrina Schwartz brings us a story from Berkeley of two people who have found that even in catastrophe, you can grow closer together.

Laura: I'm in my 80th year. I'm trying to ease into it gradually. Nothing is easy right now. Believe me.

Igor: There was a general location that was provided in the spreadsheet, but it did not have an address. So I had to do a little bit of sleuthing.

Laura: I'm Laura, from the Women's History Library and the National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape.

Igor: Hi, I'm Igor Tregub in Berkeley.

Laura: I'm also one of those folks with the compromised immune system.

Igor: I was trying to figure out how I could be a net positive for my community. And I went through the list of neighbors who asked for various kinds of support. And just in case, I ended up sending each of them an email.

Laura: I began to remember standing there in the eighth grade waiting to be chosen at a dance. And that's the horror of that. All those terrible school girl memories were coming back, and then Igor stepped up.

Igor: Turned out that she is quite a legend, and a telltale sign was that she had her own Wikipedia page. She has been an icon of the feminist movement.

Laura: I have been very moved by so many people. I just moved to tears by people's offers to help.

Igor: We ended up getting her about two weeks worth of supplies and we were able to still exercise the six feet of prescribed social distancing at the door. We ended up having a really great conversation on the porch of her house.

Laura: I actually had been to where he was born in Ukraine. And so it was all kind of fun for me.

Igor: It just goes to show sometimes small acts of kindness ... you might end up meeting a lifelong friend.

Laura: "What delightful people," I thought to myself. Wow, a lot of people in Berkeley can meet this way. And it's a great thing.

Igor: It made me feel better. It gave me a sense of larger purpose.

Laura: That was really, really special. And, you know, you don't really quite know how to articulate the malaise until something different happens.

Igor: There are hundreds, if not thousands of neighbors just like me.

Your guide to digital gatherings

It seems like every hour, we're seeing something new and cool that people are doing to create online community and offer something positive for others. We asked reporter Asal Ehsanipour to take us on a tour of what all is out there.

Guided Meditations: In a time of incredible anxiety, meditation is a great way to keep those feelings at bay. Sure, there's YouTube. But some people find they want togetherness, even in a practice as solitary as this one. That's why last week Chloe Tschanz decided to take her company's guided meditations virtual. Chloe is leading these guided meditations on Zoom a few times a week. She hosts them from San Francisco's Panhandle.

Prayer Circles: Urban Adamah, a Jewish farm in Berkeley, also recommends people take a moment to slow it down and breathe. They host what they call "Virtual Avodat Lev," which means "Service of the Heart" in Hebrew. Participants join from around the country first thing in the morning and they say it's a free way to connect with ourselves and each other through prayer and poetry.

Virtual Concerts: A lot of people are finding creative ways to connect through song. You might have seen artists like John Legend and Coldplay host acoustic sessions on social media. Here in the Bay Area. Local musicians like San Francisco-based The Feelings Parade are following suit on a much more intimate scale. On Tuesday, they held their first virtual concert they're calling "Feelings Gatherings.

Art Classes: And there are dozens of other ways to stay inspired. For example, artist Wendy Macnaughton (@wendymac) is holding art classes on Instagram Live.

Kids Singalongs: Need help keeping your kids entertained? The local musician, Alison Faith Levy, has weekly sing alongs on YouTube for toddlers and preschoolers.

Group Conversations: Itching to make new friends? San Francisco's One Salon is a weekly gathering for thoughtful conversations. This week they hosted their first digital salon, where they played improv games and each answered the question of the day: "Despite their current crisis, what is one thing that you're grateful for?"

Dance Parties: Maybe some of you just want to let off some steam by dancing with 4,000 strangers. Mark Kanemura, one of Lady Gaga's backup dancers, is hosting daily dance parties on Instagram Live, complete with body rolls, wigs and confetti he's throwing around his living room. When life gets crazy, sometimes you just gotta dance it out.

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