Spread infectious positivity the digital way
“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart,” motivational speaker and cancer survivor, Emory Austin, once said. “Sing anyway.”
The global health crisis has cast a dark cloud over many lives, but here at League we’re fighting back with perpetual optimism. It has become obvious that we are creatures who need a sense of community from our close circles, indirect networks and even the casual interactions with an Uber driver or a barista.
We’re in this together so check in on your family, friends and colleagues. Everyone deals with situations differently and we need to use every tool and tactic available to ensure we’re all sane, validated and taken care of.
Our team has been contributing some helpful content at the moment and I decided to collate them into something you can share. This is our growing list of digital resources and tips to promote a positive outlook and resilience through this trying time. We will keep updating it with new content, so check it again and be sure to spread it far and wide.
Know your facts
Misinformation and disinformation are the enemies of progress in the fight against the pandemic. It’s important to use and share information from official sources.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the best source of information for anyone anywhere in the world. The organisation’s website has comprehensive explanations about what the Coronavirus is, the most up-to-date data about the scale of the pandemic and practical and easy-to-understand advice for the public and scam alerts.
South Africans can access official updates backed by the WHO and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on the website SAcoronavirus.co.za. If you’re in Australia, you can get the most trusted information in your preferred language from the government portal and you can download the official government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or on Google Play.
Do your bit
The livelihoods of countless people will be adversely affected by this pandemic. If you can, please consider donating to initiatives that have been established to provide aid.
WHO’s Covid-19 Response Fund is an excellent place to start. Donations to the fund help WHO’s continuing efforts to track the spread of the virus globally, support frontline workers with the necessary resources, care for patients, administer tests and treatment and get closer to a vaccine.
Gift of the Givers is the largest homegrown disaster response NGO in Africa. It focuses on providing social upliftment to the most vulnerable members of society and will need all the help it can get to deliver aid during the pandemic.
The Solidarity Fund has been established by the South African government as a centralised resource fund for all efforts aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, detection and testing, resources for healthcare professionals and support for people whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic. All donations are secure and tax-deductible.
Calm your mind
Isolation can have a damaging effect on your mental health. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so it’s essential to prioritise yourself during this difficult time and take every measure to ease paranoia, stress and depressive moods.
You can start by taking a free online crash course on The Science of Well-Being from Yale offered by Coursera. Psychology professor Laurie Santos believes that anyone can take charge of their happiness when they understand how the mind works and how it can be rewired. It’s an engaging and accessible four-week course for the everyday person seeking sustainable methods to build mental strength.
If you’re battling to understand or process your feelings right now, you might want to give this insightful interview with David Kessler by the Harvard Business Review a read. Kessler compares what most of us are feeling to a type of grief. The world is different and we’re mourning the sense of normalcy we left behind. He offers timely advice about how to process – and, more importantly, move through – our collective grief.
The popular meditation and mindfulness app, Headspace, has dedicated free meditations, sleep and movement exercises as part of its Weathering the storm collection. The collection is aimed at helping healthcare professionals, workers, educators and the average Joe and Jane have a less stressful time while working from home, saving lives and self-isolating.
If you’re looking for more bite-sized help, try The Daily Stoic podcast. Every day, you’ll get a two- to three-minute lesson on the age-old philosophy of Stoicism made relevant for modern times. In light of the pandemic, The Daily Stoic has published more relevant lessons like “How a Few Can Help The Many” and how to digest the news at no expense to your mental well-being.
Australians can also make use of Lifeline’s Covid-19 page with hotlines, online crisis chats and a wealth of other resources meant to inform, empower and sympathise with everyone navigating these uncertain times.
Grow your skills
You might find yourself with a bit of extra idle time on your hands. What better way to spend it than to upskill yourself with free online education?
You can start with Coursera and edX’s vast offering – more than 13 000 courses from more than 900 universities – of free online courses that are free to audit (you can pay for homework and certificates). They cover a broad range of disciplines such as machine learning, accounting, marketing and languages.
Business owners might find it useful to brush up on their financial management skills while they have the time. Udemy has marked down several of its financial management courses that give businesspeople foundational and expert-level knowledge on all things related to money.
Aspiring shutterbugs can also hone their photography skills by taking advantage of Nikon’s online photography courses, which are free for April. The classes cover everything from the basics of DSLR photography to shooting music videos and dynamic landscapes.
Stoke your amusement
There’s a significant pressure to be productive and self-improve while we practise social distancing. It would be awesome if you learnt a new skill or got plenty of work done. But there’s nothing wrong with seeking a bit of escapism too. In fact, some entertainment here and there will do wonders for your mood.
Audible has made hundreds of children’s audiobooks available for free while schools are closed. The collection features stories and educational audiobooks that are bound to keep kids of all ages entertained and stimulated indoors. Who knows, you might even find them entertaining too?
For those looking for entertainment specifically aimed at adults, HBO has you covered. The cable TV company has made almost 500 hours of award-winning viewing available to stream for free until the end of April. This includes full runs of classic series like The Sopranos, documentaries like The Apollo and Warner Bros movies like Empire of the Sun. Stream them online at HBO NOW,HBO GO and their corresponding mobile apps.
If you’re familiar with the card game Dominion (where you play a monarch racing to build the biggest and richest kingdom), rejoice because the online version is just as addictive as the physical game and you can still play against friends and family. The basic version is free and more than enough to keep you busy for hours, maybe days, on end.
The highbrow crowd can continue becoming more cultured thanks to Virtual Museums. As the name suggests, the website helps you to explore the world’s museums and art galleries from the comfort of your home. You may have cancelled your trip to Paris, but you can still see The Louvre and get (read: zoom in) as close as you want to the Mona Lisa.
Nothing beats a good old-fashioned Netflix binge-watching session. Except, maybe having one with friends and family. That’s what Netflix Party promises you. It’s a Chrome plugin that lets you sync your viewing with a group of people so you’re watching the same thing at the same time. It also has a live chat where you and the rest of your viewing party can discuss the wild antics of Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic from Tiger King as they happen.
FutureMe is a free platform that allows you to write a letter to your future self. All you have to do is to set a future date, enter your email address and start writing. You can use it as a social distancing journal or write a letter to yourself every day that you can only read in a year or two or three when life is rosier.
You might not be attending a concert anytime soon, but you can still enjoy performances by some of your favourite musicians on Instagram. The likes of Coldplay, John Legend, Miley Cyrus and Andrew Lloyd-Webber have been performing from their homes on Instagram Live. They don’t have supporting bands or elaborate stages but there’s something intimate and touching about Instagram concerts. Follow your favourite artist on Instagram and see when they will invite you into their living room for a serenade.
Engage your community
It’s called social distancing but now, more than ever, we need to practise social solidarity. There’s no shortage of digital communication tools available and all of them are free. So log on, reach out and connect with your community. You are not alone.
WhatsApp is an invaluable communication tool during this time. You can use it to check in on your family members, especially those practising social distancing alone. Group chats are an excellent way for daily morning updates. You can also keep up with important bulletins on your neighbourhood group chat.
Make the most of your company Slack as a tool for employee engagement. Company culture will be different during social distancing but it can survive. Work anniversaries, Employee of the Month and watercooler chats work just as well, thanks to apps such as Disco and HeyTaco! that can plug in to the platform. Companies that are digital-first have been doing it long before the arrival of the pandemic.
You’ll need to see familiar faces from time to time and video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts have everything you need for a quick video call with friends or family. They’re all easy to use and have performed well during the pandemic, so the one you choose is a matter of preference. With the House Party app you can even play games like HeadsUp, Trivia and Quick Draw so you can keep your games night tradition alive.
This is all I could find for now but I’ll be adding more resources to it as the recommendations keep coming in from the team. Please let us know if you have something special that’s helping you to get through this strange time that you’d like us to add to the list,
Be safe, take care of yourself and we’ll see you on the other side.