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Martha Neary

Martha Neary is the PsyberGuide Project Manager, based at University of California, Irvine. Martha’s broad and varied research interests include healthcare disparities among minority populations, the integration of technology into mental health interventions, and early education, particularly in the areas of health and sexuality.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has us all a little scared, stressed and uncertain. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with stress and different things work for different people. I firmly believe that during this time, technology has the potential to be a positive force and can help us manage stress and stay connected.  Here are just some ways technology can help you during these new and uncertain times. We’ll be sharing more ideas and helpful tips on PsyberGuide social media in the coming days and weeks, so be sure to follow us @PsyberGuide on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Wellness Apps 

Lots of wellness & meditation apps are providing free access during this time. Here are some we have come across so far:

  • Balance, a new meditation app, is offering a free one-year subscription to anyone who wants it. To receive the free subscription just download the app and then email access@balanceapp.com for instructions.
  • Headspace, a popular meditation app,  has released free content, including content specifically geared towards health care providers and educators in the US through the end of the year. Instructions to access can be found here
  • Calm has compiled a website of free resources in an online hub here. These include meditations for stress, sleep and more, and meditations for kids. 
  • Employers & payers can get access to Dayzz app at no cost which they can in turn provide to their employees. To access, email Dayzz CEO Amir Indutzky at amir@dayzz.com
  • Some other great wellness apps which have free content are SuperBetter, eQuoo, Happify — they also all have a gamified component, which can make them a good source of entertainment too 
  • For more wellness apps, visit psyberguide.org/apps.

Using technology to stay connected

Connecting and community is really important for our mental health. While you’re self isolating, technology provides a great way to connect with friends, family, other loved ones, or the community at large. Here are just some ideas of how to leverage technology for social connection. 

  • Establish specific chats or channels for non-COVID-19 talk. For example in our  Slack channel for PsyberGuide team members, we have set up a “quarantine life” channel where we are sharing photos of our pets, music, and tv/movie recommendations. Conversation about other topics can still continue, but this channel is a pressure-free space. 
  • If you’re working from home, FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom with coworkers. Consider having virtual lunch together or moving your email/Slack conversation about a particular project to a video call to help you feel more connected with others. 
  • Many gyms and clubs are now offering live streaming or online classes. Check your local centers’ social media pages to learn about their recent events 
  • Call, text or video a friend or family member to say hi 
  • Have an online movie night with friends. You can do this through a Facebook Watch Party, or alternatively all just hit play at the same time and chat via messaging or calls. 
  • Many artists are live streaming music each day (e.g. James Vincent McMorrow and Ben Gibbard).

When to unplug from technology 

While I do strongly believe that technology can ultimately be a force for good at this time, there are times when the best thing for you is unplugging completely. Constant content and updates can be overwhelming. Consider using the screen time limit feature of your phone to set a limit for yourself for apps. These are not hard limits and can be ignored or extended, but may help you be more mindful about your technology use and help you consider if they are really serving you. You might also set a timer while browsing the Internet to make sure you use becomes contained and you do not become overwhelmed. 

There are so many other activities and things you can do that don’t require technology. We’ll be sharing ideas for these on our social, so stay tuned. Visit PsyberGuide on on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Stay well and healthy, and do what you can to look after your mental health. Remember if you need advice or information on COVID-19, visit the World Health Organization or Center for Disease Control & Prevention websites.