COVID-19 Survival Guide: Anxiety

Ann Stromberg

Ann Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

COVID-19 Survival Guide

We have been anxious to find out when we may get our “normal” lives back and now we know the first steps will begin this week. The gradual reopening of business will be good for the economy, something that is very needed. Reopening the state for business is a mix of excitement for our professional life and yet still terrifying for our personal life. If you have been socially distancing within the recommended guidelines, you have most likely spent the last 6 weeks quarantined at home. Spending time at home has created a sense of security and safety that has allowed us to avoid COVID-19. Leaving our safe cocoons to head out into a potential danger zone of germs creates a new level of anxiety. If you have ventured out at all during this quarantine, passing someone without a mask or not social distancing may have left you upset. Being angry with a stranger is very different than coming back to an office where co-workers may not adhere to the same standard of protection. We are going to open Ohio and find ourselves with a lot of new concerns about our safety and the behaviors of others. We head back to work with a new mode of operation and new stressors.

Anxiety is defined as having fear, sometimes irrational, with an excessive reaction that interferes with our daily functioning. COVID-19 is causing many people to feel anxious about their health and safety. Feeling anxious when there is a real threat is normal, we should be feeling anxious now. Spending many weeks confined at home with an uncertain end is a valid source of anxiety. Feeling anxious about reentering society in any manner is also a source of normal anxiety. Learning to manage our normal anxiety to keep it from becoming excessive begins with self-awareness. Becoming aware of our feelings can help manage anxious feelings. However, we need to acknowledge our concerns, because they help us remain safe. The anxious feelings are our brain’s way to help us avoid a dangerous situation. Under normal ciscumstances, returning to work should not feel dangerous, but this virus has us all feeling threatened.

Hopefully, we will all get back to work, and our “normal” lives, but it is clear the way we have functioned in the world will be changed. New situations tend to make us feel anxious because we feel a lack of control. Self-awareness is one of the best techniques to manage anxiety and find some control in each situation. Being self-aware can help cue you in that when something is not right. Self-awareness enhances our ability to take action to get back on track. If you notice you are feeling more nervous, irritable, notice difficulty sleeping or concentrating, it may be time to assess what you are feeling. Acknowledging your feelings is the first strategy to manage our reactions. Once we determine that we feel anxious we can take steps to correct the situation. Planning to go back to the workplace is important. We need to determine our comfort level so we can prepare for what we come back to. Allow for time to plan ahead, troubleshoot the things that cause you the most concern, and be ready with a plan and your own supplies. Some situations may require more advanced planning, for instance, having the protective supplies you need to feel confident in public. If returning to the workplace feels uncertain, take time to determine if it will be safe for you, and bring what you need for your peace of mind. We are all able to take control of our safety and health. We can return to our workplace and feel confident we are taking the precautions necessary for everyone’s safety.

COVID-19 Survival Guide: Keep Moving

Ann StrombergAnn Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

COVID-19 Survival Guide: Keep Moving

As we continue to social distance, work from home, and connect with others via zoom, it is encouraging to hear that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. We are slowly learning when and how we may emerge from this pandemic. One thing we know for sure is the return to normal will most certainly be a new normal for most of us. There will still be restrictions and requirements for moving out of our homes and back into our lives.

We know we will be moving about very differently, but we will be moving. The benefits of movement and exercise are well documented. Volumes of research exist lauding the benefits of exercise as a protective and preventative prescription for what ails you. Exercise improves both our physical body and our mental health. Almost any physical and/or mental health condition can improve with exercise. As we are encouraged to stay home and be socially distant, it may take some creativity to maintain any type of exercise routine. The amazing benefits of moderate exercise can be achieved with as little as 30 minutes a day, and those 30 minutes do not have to be completed all at once. Moderate exercise can be different for each of us. Think of a moderate exercise as walking at a slightly faster pace. The talk test is a good way to judge your pace; you can find a pace that allows you to talk maintaining a sentence when moving. Finding a way to move in 5 or 10 minute increments can be sufficient to see improvement in health. Knowing that exercise can boost our mood, why not give it a try? Who doesn’t need a mood booster these days!

Let’s not get caught up on the word exercise. Exercise can be anything that you enjoy and that allows you to move your body such as walking, running, yoga, boot camp type exercise, taking the dog for a walk, or really any activity that allows you to move. These homebound days are the perfect time to create a habit of movement in your daily activities. Working from home can be tedious and challenging. Try taking movement breaks every hour. You can walk outside, do jumping jacks, burpees, crunches, march in place or anything you can do for 5 minutes every hour. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up and move for a few minutes to break up sitting all day. You can create a new healthy habit that you can take back to the office with you. Any exercise you choose can be beneficial, however, most studies stipulate moderate exercise is where the benefits begin. It may take some time to build up to a moderate-paced activity and that is part of the process. Take your time building a routine you can maintain.

Exercise will improve your mood and outlook. Exercise has been traced to improving brain performance, memory, and brain health. Exercise builds muscle and helps our brain too; there really is no reason not to find time to move our bodies. Challenge yourself to move for a few minutes a day and it will become a habit!

Want to learn more about habit building? Click here to read COVID-19 Survival Guide: Habits

COVID-19 Survival Guide: Meditation


Ann Stromberg
Ann Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

COVID-19 Survival Guide: Meditation

It’s good that we have found a new way to function at home and with family members present. Creating a new “normal” or way to manage our time may feel more challenging as these weeks crawl by. There are strategies to help cope with the challenges, distractions, and stress that we may feel now.

Let’s discuss the benefits of meditation. We are usually skeptical when meditation is mentioned, but let’s look deeper into the process and benefits. Meditation is a tool that enhances mindfulness and self-awareness. Meditation brings us into the present moment. The beauty of the present moment is that every situation is manageable when experienced one moment at a time. We create anxiety, worry, doubt, and stress when we are looking back into the past or into the future. Meditation allows us to keep us focused in the here and now and that is truly the only moment we can control. This does not mean that every moment will be pleasant and happy. There will always be times when our situation is uncomfortable or stressful. Learning to meditate helps us to learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Meditation helps us to find peace in each moment through acknowledging and accepting a situation. We learn to experience our thoughts and feelings without reaction. As we meditate we acknowledge our thoughts and then let them go as we exhale. It is important to realize meditation takes effort and practice. It is best to start with a small dose; a minute or two at a time is a good start. Short meditations may be enough for you or you may need a longer practice. There are many ways to slow down enough to notice your thoughts and emotions and become comfortable in the moment.

One of the simplest places to start is with a short-guided meditation. Guided meditation is listening to someone to help you through a meditation. There are several apps with guided meditations; Calm and Insight Timer are both good places to look. Choose a short time to start and settle in and begin. The best way to start meditation is to find a place in your home where you can spend a few uninterrupted minutes. Move into a comfortable position, either seated or lying down. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Begin to breathe in and out of the nose and start to follow the breath allowing your inhale and exhale to lengthen out a little. Settle into a comfortable breathing pattern. If you are listening to a guided meditation you will begin by being guided into the breath. Choose one that is a few minutes and when it is complete notice how you feel. Perhaps you may choose a word or a statement to inhale and exhale with, for example, “I am happy and healthy.” Continue to repeat the mantra over and over.

Another easy place to begin is walking meditation. Find a nice place for a walk. Unplug from any music or podcasts for this walk. As you walk listen to the sounds around you, really observe the beauty in nature and keep your attention focused on your surroundings. As you walk, breathe and observe the present moment, notice how you feel and hopefully, your mind has relaxed and enjoyed the release as well!

Try meditation for a few minutes this week and really take time to notice the way you feel afterward. Enjoy the blissful feeling of relaxation!

Professional Online Learning Opportunities

By Christine Olsen, MBA, Career Coach and Program Manager

How many times have we heard from our clients that they wish they had more time to brush up on skills or learn new topics or software applications relevant to their profession? Answer: too often.

Whatever their job status, they can make good use of their time at home learning to improve both soft and hard skills at no cost!
In addition to the popular LinkedIn Learning (was Lynda.com) which is offered to paying LinkedIn members, or free for the first 30 days of use, there are many other education options for those who want to enhance the basic academics (math, writing), or industry-specific related skills and knowledge, (SQL, Salesforce, project management, communication). Below are some recommended sites for you to explore. Let’s make social distancing productive by readying for career next steps!

Code Academy Dedicated specifically to teaching coding – how to write the code necessary to develop interactive websites using the most useful languages – HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Python, Ruby, and PHP – and does it within the browser using interactive tools featuring a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

Open Culture Find hundreds of university courses without having to visit and search for each university’s own site. This is a very helpful resource with easy to browse categories for finding many courses in one area of study. Try Open Culture’s 1000 lectures, videos, and podcasts from universities around the world.

Coursera is one of the leading providers of massive open online courses (MOOCs) – it is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world to bring a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database giving the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses – some provide certificates of completion to recognize that you passed the class. This is a great place to enjoy learning in a structured classroom-style environment from home.

Kahn Academy is partnering with many post-secondary schools and curating many courses from around the web offering useable and impressive depth on many different subjects. The lectures are short and share a handful of information at a time but build on each other as you progress.

Udemy is a site that mixes free and paid course content – similar in concept to Coursera – but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

edX primarily focused on courses in math, the sciences, and engineering edX is a great option for free online education offering fully online courses from many different schools with teachers, discussion boards and quizzes primarily focused on courses in math, the sciences, and engineering.

MIT Open Courseware MIT Open Courseware is a treasure trove of the course material if you’re looking to learn more about science, computer and engineering topics. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT is among the top universities for those subjects.

Stanford Online
Stanford Online offers self-paced and session-based courses. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser. Stanford Online is a great site for world-class courses, though the topics are somewhat limited.

Sites offering free online courses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which may be helpful to you and your family members!

Alison Explore resources from top universities

Academic Earth Get started with some coursework

Class Central Discover free online courses

COVID-19 Survival Guide: Self-Quarantine

Ann Stromberg

Ann Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

COVID-19 Self-Quarantine day # 857

It sure feels like we have been in quarantine for an eternity, but all joking aside this is a real test of our coping abilities. As our days run together, it becomes harder to know what day of the week it is! The longer we are quarantined, along with the daily changes to the “rules” of social distancing, the harder it is to feel positive that there is an end in sight. It is important now to continue to take care of ourselves and to find joy and happiness in each day. Keeping a schedule and remaining focused may feel more difficult, especially if your workload is decreasing. If that’s the case, create an opportunity to learn or do something new.

Our brain loves to learn; learning and doing new things are for the brain like exercise is for the physical body. Stimulating the brain is a great way to improve our brain health. It doesn’t matter what we learn or do, just by changing our routine we can stimulate brain activity. Simple things like changing where you sit at the dinner table or eating with your non-dominant hand can stimulate brain growth. If you are living with a houseful of people, make a game of it and have each person chose something to do that is different each day. Use the Internet! There are many opportunities for learning anything that piques your interest. These days at home may provide opportunities to have fun, be creative, or just expand your knowledge.

This week presents additional challenges as we enter Passover and Easter week. These holy days present challenges to the faithful all over the world as social distancing has forced most worship communities to close. Regardless of your tradition, it is likely this year it will be observed differently. Take time to find online options for community worship. Take time to connect with family by phone or set up a virtual celebration. Knowing this year’s observance will be different, identify the most important aspects and determine the best way for you to honor that tradition. Create a new normal this year and have fun! You may find that there are new ideas that you choose to keep when we all get back together.

Make this week the week you try something new, continue to spend time outside, and move your body. As this quarantine continues, staying productive at work may not be easy to do. Remember to do what you can, take breaks, find the thing to be grateful for, and practice kindness to yourself and others! Smile! Smiling improves our mood instantly! Being patient and kind is really needed now more than ever.

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.

          Thich Nhat Hanh

Onward Israel 2020- Canceled

Dear Onward Israel Students and Parents:

Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the many people in our community and around the world who have been or may be directly impacted by COVID-19. We wish them a refuah shlemah, a full and speedy recovery.

After careful consideration, this year’s Onward Israel Internship program has been canceled. JVS Career Services, The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati fully support Onward Israel’s decision following increased concerns and travel limitations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The health, wellness, and safety of our students remain our highest priority. We know it is the right decision.

Students accepted for this year’s canceled program will have priority placement for Onward Israel 2021. Also, the Cincy Journeys grants will remain available thanks to the commitment of The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati. More information will be communicated as grant guidelines are being established. 

Onward Israel will be contacting you on or about April 21st with the official cancellation notice. They may also communicate other potential programs and internship options including a remote internship called, Onward Israel Remote, as well as, a one-month fellowship option in Israel this July. If you have an interest, we encourage you to visit their website for additional information (OnwardIsrael.org). Please note, Cincy Journeys grants may not be available for these options.

Also, the deposit checks we have received will be shredded unless you would like us to send them back to you. Please email Rosa Ziegler at rziegler@jvscareers.org with alternative instructions. 

We want each of you to know that we are here to help you with your summer employment options. Currently, Camp Livingston (overnight camp in Bennington, IN) and Camp at the J (day camp at The Mayerson JCC) have summer jobs available. Camp Livingston is currently hiring Senior Staff and Counselor positions. They can also customize an internship for majors requiring a specific internship for graduation. If you are interested, email Abby Solomon, Assistant Camp Director (abby@camplivingston.org). For Camp at the J positions, visit https://mayersonjcc.org/camp-afterschool/camp-staff-2018/ for more information.     

We thank everyone for their continued support and look forward to offering you Onward 2021 next year. JVS Career Services is committed to helping students find internships and jobs, so if you have any questions or would like more information don’t hesitate to contact us here

COVID-19 Survival Guide: How to Stay Happy, Healthy and Sane While Sheltering in Place

Ann Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

In this unprecedented time that we find ourselves in, the challenges are great and our ability to cope is compromised. We want to provide some ideas to help guide us through these next few weeks knowing it can’t last forever.

No one asked for or could have prepared for this current health crisis. One thing we know for sure is that we can’t do anything to change the situation, but we can work to accept that. There is a peace in accepting and not resisting a situation. Accepting something does not mean we have to like it or be happy about it. Acceptance gives up permission to stop using our positive energy to resist or be unhappy. Of course, this sounds like an easy solution but it requires effort.

Our brains are built for survival. We all learned about the stress response and the nervous system’s “fight or flight” response. Our brain signals the body to react to danger before we are conscious of the fact there is danger. This unconscious signal is the stress response. All of the constant updates, sheltering in place, and social isolation creates a continuous alarm to our normal state of being. This stress response is what wears us down, shifts our mood, and creates anxiety.

Freedom comes when we give up the need to control the situation and accept reality. We are able to bring our focus to the present moment, the only moment we are able to control. Then we can channel our positive energy into more productive, creative, or enjoyable moment. Keeping our focus in the here and now is difficult to do now because we are bombarded with news, media, and updates on the COVID-19. If you have been constantly monitoring the news, try and take some time away from the media coverage.

If you find it hard to get started or to stay focused during the day, create a schedule. You should make a schedule that incorporates all of the parts of your life at home. If you are working, create time and space for work. Set up a place to work so you can focus and avoid distractions. Be sure to schedule time for exercise, cooking, caretaking, or homeschooling, if you have children at home too. Most importantly, take time to do something that brings you joy each day. We need to find some joy and happiness every day!

Take time each day to get outside, especially as we turn the corner to spring sunshine and warmer temperatures. Spending time outdoors is an instant mood booster! Spend time appreciating the beauty that surrounds us outdoors. Feel gratitude for the beauty in nature, marvel at the mystery of the changing season, and stop to notice the small changes where you live. Take a walk around the neighborhood or find a park. You won’t feel isolated because so many people are doing the same. Remember practicing social distancing is important, but smiling and saying hello to others also improves your mood.

Self-care is important during this period of self -isolation. Try to keep your daily routine as consistent as possible. Go to bed and get up at about the same time each day. Exercise is essential to our physical and mental health. Go outside and move or choose an exercise video or app to follow. There are many fitness professionals and gyms that are posting daily workouts for people to follow. Get dressed every day, there are many memes going around about changing from day pajamas to night pajamas that are funny but getting dressed makes you feel more productive. Try and make healthy choices for meals and snacks, all the comforting goodies we love will add up over time and that can impact our mood too.

Being mindful of our daily choices is important too. Pay attention to our daily habits, what we eat, and how we move through the day matters. Be mindful of new habits you may develop and check in with ourselves.

Always keep in mind, when we are faced with these challenging situations, be ready to give yourself permission to “fail.” We will all have days when we feel energized and days when we can’t get going. Regardless of our dedication to stay on our schedule, we will have unproductive days. When we have a day of binging TV or whatever our distraction may be, accept it and move on. Kindness toward ourselves and others will help us all accept and survive this through time.