SURVIVE WINTER 2021

The ultimate guide for combatting common challenges to our mental health in cold weather COVID-19 times.


SURVIVE WINTER 2021 – BY KIRUNIVERSE
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ABOUT THIS GUIDE

While we continue to face the challenges presented by the coronavirus, there are many other situations this winter will bring for people across the United States (and beyond) that will challenge our mental health. From Seasonal Affective Disorder to the flu, political leadership, working conditions and more, we compiled a list of ways to combat a number of challenges that could potentially occur as a threat to your mental health this winter season.



JUMP TO A SECTION:


SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER


UNEMPLOYMENT


LOCAL, REGIONAL, AND NATIONAL LEADERSHIP


FLU SEASON


WORKING CONDITIONS


C-PTSD


COVID-SPECIFIC


AUTHOR INFORMATION, ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS, REFERENCES


KIRUNIVERSE FITNESS FAVES, DISCLAIMER




SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD)

With over 500 thousand cases in the US every year, where more than 80% of the cases are classified as being moderate to severe, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has a serious impact on the mental health of many Americans. SAD, also known as seasonal depression, is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall, worsening in winter, and ending in spring. Factors that may contribute to SAD include reduced levels of sunlight that may affect a person’s biological clock and cause a drop in serotonin (key hormone that stabilizes our mood) and melatonin (key hormone that stabilizes sleep pattern and mood) levels.




CHALLENGE (SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER)

  1. 500K+ US cases per year

  2. More than 80% of cases moderate to severe

  3. Triggered by seasonal changes: SAD appears during late fall to early winter


COMBAT (WAYS YOU CAN OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE)

  1. Keep a consistent sleeping schedule

  2. Manage sunlight intake

  3. Utilize light therapy / light boxes

  4. Invest in dawn simulators

  5. Exercise indoors

  6. Adopt a pet


CONSISTENT SLEEPING SCHEDULE

Health.gov cites that “most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep on a regular schedule each night.” It’s important to set a regular schedule for quality sleep in order to promote higher quality mental and physical health. Research shows people who develop healthy sleep patterns generally experience less sickness, lower risk for serious health and weight problems, improved mood and interpersonal exchanges, and clearer judgement. When it comes to setting a sleep schedule/routine, the best thing to do is listen to your body. Our bodies set biological clocks according to daylight patterns where we live. Depending on your schedule or preference, you may want to use blackout curtains or eliminate unwanted noises to promote better quality sleep. Your end of day routine may involve relaxing with such wind down activities as warm baths, calm music, etc. Setting electronic devices down or turning them off is also a strongly recommended way to wind down before bed.


MANAGING SUNLIGHT INTAKE

Sunlight exposure is important because it helps to regulate levels of serotonin and melatonin in the body, and can help promote healthier sleep patterns. Overall, the most popular known benefit of sunlight is its impact on levels of Vitamin D. Getting anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight 2-3 times a week is enough to enjoy the Vitamin D-boosting benefits of the sun. Additionally, sunlight exposure can contribute to lowering the risk of several cancers and other diseases, as well as building strong bones.


However, for as much as we love to soak in the sun, there are concerns of overexposure. As recognized by the US National Library of Medicine, too much sun can produce some seriously adverse health effects, so the best recommendation is to manage your intake. “Longer sun exposures cause further sun damage to skin and increase the risk of photo-aging and skin cancer, but do not increase vitamin D production,” says Barbara A. Gilchrest, a dermatology professor at the Boston University School of Medicine. So, as you enjoy the sunlight, remember to consider the length of your exposure. If you’re going to be outside longer, or during peak sunlight hours, use sunscreen. All things in balance!


LIGHT THERAPY

People challenged with SAD may consider this. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), short exposures to light treatments and therapy have been shown to improve depression scores in people with SAD. “Improvements in alertness, attention and vigilance, especially during adverse conditions, after brief exposure to light have been reported by several studies.”


Light therapy is meant to compensate for the lack of sunlight in the colder months, since reduced sunlight throughout the day leads to lower serotonin levels. Thankfully, it’s quite easy to get your hands on a light box or lamp! There are many light boxes and lamps on the market that deliver up to 10,000 lux of brightness and can be a good substitute for sunlight. Check your local Target, Nordstrom, or Bed Bath & Beyond for light boxes near you. It is recommended to utilize the light treatment for 20-30 minutes every day within the first hours of waking up in the morning.


DAWN SIMULATOR

Similar to light therapy, dawn simulators can provide you with a suitable substitute for sunlight and help keep your biological clock consistent. A dawn simulator, also known as a sunrise alarm clock, wakes you up by simulating the natural dawn sunlight with a gradual increasing light. Since our circadian rhythm may be a major player in seasonal depression, maintaining a consistent sleep cycle is important in fighting against seasonal depression. A dawn simulator can help alleviate these symptoms by providing you with ample light and helping you keep a sleep schedule.


EXERCISE

Exercise can help ease the symptoms of depression. Exercising can help you reduce stress levels by releasing endorphins and keeping your mind off negative thoughts that can affect your mental health. With the colder months, there is less incentive to exercise since many activities such as jogging or walking require us to go outdoors and face the weather. To compensate for that, we can turn to indoor exercising, such as yoga, meditation, dancing, and core strengthening. There are many fitness influencers with videos on different exercises you can do. For a list of fitness instructors we recommend, head over to our Instagram for the complete guide. Apps such as Daily Yoga provide yoga and meditation classes to help you exercise as well.


KEEPING A PET

Playing with a pet can be good for your health. Research published to helpguide.org points to pet owners being less likely to suffer from depression than those who do not own pets. Additional benefits to pet ownership may include lower blood pressure, elevated levels of serotonin and dopamine, lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and fewer visits to the doctor in older age. Check your local shelters to discover how you can bring home a pet today.



UNEMPLOYMENT

With the Covid-19 outbreak, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported record high unemployment rates, which peaked at 14.7% in April 2020, and more than 7 million people applied for unemployment insurance as of late October. With many people having lost their jobs and joined the ranks of those awaiting governmental assistance, feelings of stress stemming from uncertainties about the economy and unemployment can be overwhelming. From the struggles of building and maintaining a personal budget or routine, to concerns around skills needed to perform the job you desire, we’ve come up with a list of ways you can overcome the challenge of unemployment this season.



CHALLENGE (UNEMPLOYMENT)

  1. ~7m on unemployment insurance as of Halloween 2020

  2. Many more awaiting federal benefits/confirmation

  3. Unemployment increases the challenge of our ability to afford the things we need

  4. Unemployment increases the challenge of managing a regular routine

  5. The majority of US adults (including college graduates) feel they lack relevant skills for desired employment while employers want to strategically invest in employees with wider skill sets


COMBAT (WAYS YOU CAN OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE)

  1. Discover local food resources

  2. Research available government benefits

  3. Develop new personal skills

  4. Consider an internship


LOCAL FOOD RESOURCES

Many who are faced with the challenge of unemployment also endure struggles associated with an adversely impacted ability to afford the food they need. If you or someone you know is in need of food, take a look at local food resources. FeedingAmerica.org is an excellent resource for finding food assistance near you.


GOVERNMENT BENEFITS

If you find yourself in a financially difficult situation, there are governmental relief programs that offer assistance to people in need. In late March 2020, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, more popularly known as the CARES Act, was passed in US Congress as an effort to provide economic assistance to individuals affected by the pandemic. And as we near the end of this program (CARES Act), there are many other local and regional programs in place across the country to help individuals, families, and organizations struggling in the wake of this ongoing pandemic. Search your local forums for relief information specific to your needs.


DEVELOPING NEW PERSONAL SKILLS

According to an article published by Harvard Business Review, an approximated 54% of employees admit they don’t have all the skills or knowledge they need in their current jobs. And if you thought that’s what was keeping you from getting the job you wanted, you may be right, but don’t be discouraged. While more employers are looking for more diversely skilled candidates to fill open positions, it is impossible to ignore the existing skills gap, and their responsibility to help fill it by providing sufficient training in things that can only be learned through hands-on experiences. As companies continue to figure out how they will do their part, we would like to help you figure out how you’ll do yours.


The internet is rich with available resources to support you in developing new skills. Visit websites such as Coursera, Udemy, Codecadmey, and Skillshare to learn about things like Excel, finance, programming, business, and so much more. Some courses may even offer industry-recognized certifications upon completion, which can help you stand out among the competition. And as for that hands on experience…


FINDING AN INTERNSHIP

One very popular way to develop new skills is to apply for an internship. Most internships span the course of three to nine months, and while some offer compensation, the vast majority of internships are unpaid. Keep in mind though, that the key objective at an internship is not money, it’s knowledge and experience. Quality internship experiences provide safe learning environments for students and aspiring workers to develop new personal and professional skills through hands-on experiences related to desired roles in the workforce. They provide value to interns by helping them acquire and refine specific hard skills and soft skills required for their communicated career objectives.


If you are considering applying for an internship, it is best to identify your goals before you apply. What are you looking for in an internship? Quality internships are designed to give you access to the skills you need—not take up all the ones you already have. For example, seasonal internships at KIRUNIVERSE provide value to people interested in working with socially conscious, purpose-driven brands. We offer learning experiences related to roles in marketing, leadership, cross promotional partnerships, and design. Pay attention to what is offered by the role you are applying for. If the experience doesn’t match the offer, leave.



LOCAL, REGIONAL AND NATIONAL LEADERSHIP

Even with the end of the presidential elections, citizens on all sides are still dealing with the results of this election season, anxiously anticipating a transition of power. Many people are concerned about the decisions being made by people in power with regards to the current public health issues plaguing the nation. To combat these concerns, we have a few recommendations listed below.



CHALLENGE (LOCAL, REGIONAL AND NATIONAL LEADERSHIP)

  1. Stress from the results of the election

  2. Uncertainty over where the shift in power may lead

  3. Concerns over current public health issues


COMBAT (WAYS YOU CAN OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE)

  1. Monitor news and social media intake

  2. Verify sources of information

  3. Educate yourself on who represents you in government

  4. Connect with your official representatives

  5. Take responsibility for your actions


MONITOR NEWS AND SOCIAL MEDIA INTAKE

Monitor your news and social media intake to reduce stress. While it is understandable to want to keep yourself updated and informed, too much social media could have a negative influence on your mental health. The ongoing pandemic and shift in political power in the US leaves us all with some level of uncertainty. Sometimes we turn to social media in efforts to regain some sense of control and momentarily alleviate our anxiousness, however, clinical psychologist Jacqueline Bullis notes that in the long-term we end up fuelling our anxiety by giving in to the notion that we can regain control over our lives by overloading on information. Do yourself a favor and set timers or restrictions on how much news and social media you consume each day. You’ll be better for it!


VERIFY INFORMATION

It is alright to have moderate levels of social media consumption. However, if you do choose to continue consuming the news, please make sure to verify your sources of information. Be selective of where you get your information, and stick to trusted sources such as the World Health Organization and CDC? for statistics on Covid-19. Check the news, including news related to politics, at most once or twice a day and filter your social media feed to remove any distressing information or engagement, and prioritize your mental health.


KNOW WHO REPRESENTS YOU

The United States is a representative democracy. This means that our government is chosen by the people it exists to govern. Officials assume office by the process of election, and are chosen by the people to represent their perspectives and interests in an official capacity at local, state, and federal levels. While it is important to participate in the election process as a voter, there are other ways you can get involved and actually build impactful relationships with those who represent you in government.


While you might not get to know your representatives on a personal level, you can at least contact them with questions and concerns about the policies and laws they were elected to represent you on, and participate in community forums and discussions. It’s very easy to contact US representatives. Go to https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials for information on how to contact elected officials at local, state, and federal levels and make your voice heard.


REACH OUT / CONNECT WITH REPRESENTATIVES

However, if you feel like contributing to local and regional discussions on policies that can help diminish your anxiety and concerns over public health issues, it is possible to reach out to local and regional representatives through emails, letters, and online platforms such as change.org. Remember that while leaders are responsible for establishing a plan of action that encourages others to be safe and conscientious, it is your responsibility to make decisions for your own health and safety. Consider how your actions might have an impact on your health, and the health of those around you.


TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS

Remember that while leaders are responsible for establishing a plan of action that encourages others to be safe and conscientious, it is your responsibility to make decisions for your own health and safety. Consider how your actions might have an impact on you as well as those around you.



FLU SEASON

Harvard Men’s Health Watch reported an estimated 56 million cases as being confirmed in the 2019-2020 flu season, with around 10 percent of these cases requiring hospital admission. With both the flu season and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic occurring at the same time, there are rising concerns on how to prepare for both infirmities. The flu season has a history of impacting public health in major ways, as is cited by the CDC, from the number of hospital beds available to the strain on our country’s already overtaxed healthcare system.



CHALLENGE (FLU SEASON)

  1. 56m cases between October 2019 and April 2020 w. ≈10% hospital admission rate

  2. Hard to distinguish symptoms as being either flu or COVID without test

  3. Symptoms may take several days to appear

  4. Kills tens of thousands in the US every year


COMBAT (WAYS YOU CAN OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE)

  1. Create a plan for when and where to get a flu shot this year

  2. Continue to take preventative measures—do not underestimate flu season

  3. Find ways to stay active


GETTING A FLU SHOT

Millions of people get influenza (flu) every year according to the CDC. Getting the flu shot can protect yourself and your family by weakening or preventing the flu illness and reducing the risk of hospitalization and death. It also saves limited healthcare resources related to COVID-19. United Healthcare cites that a flu shot is recommended every 6 months for everyone, even for healthy people. The recommended shot time is by the end of October, but it will still be valuable to help protect you for the rest of the flu season which can linger through March. Mild side effects associated with the flu shot, such as soreness, fever, headache or muscle aches, generally don’t last long and tend to be minor when compared to the symptoms of a bad case of flu. Most healthcare insurance covers the flu shot at 100% at no additional cost to you. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best plan for you and anyone in your care.


PREVENTATIVE MEASURES (FROM HARVARD MEN’S HEALTH REVIEW)

  • Regularly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and plenty of soap anytime you have touched something that someone else could have touched, such as doorknobs, counters, and table surfaces.

  • Keep hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it whenever you can't wash your hands.

  • Use your elbow or cover your hand when opening doors.

  • Wear a face mask, or at least a cloth face cover like a bandana, whenever you're in a public place.

  • Practice physical distancing by staying at least six feet apart from other people.

  • Avoid crowded gatherings , and limit nonessential travel.

  • Call your doctor and stay at home if you have any of the key symptoms, like fever, cough, widespread muscle aches, or shortness of breath.


STAY ACTIVE

While the direct link between exercise and flu prevention has not been proven, there are several benefits to maintaining an active lifestyle. Exercise is known to lower the risk of developing heart disease, and increase bone health. Whether it be a half hour daily walk, a moderate gym routine, or a regular game of golf, maintaining an active lifestyle helps us feel healthier and more energetic.


Much like sunlight and sleep, exercise is good, but too much of a good thing can lead to ruin. Remember to listen to your body, and plan to exercise in moderation.



WORKING CONDITIONS

Working conditions in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have been a large contributor to feelings of anxiety and depression for many workers in the US. In a survey conducted by PwC in early 2020, 70% of workers reported that there was something holding them back from returning to work, with 51% (more than half) saying it was the fear of getting sick for them. Whether your job requires you to leave your home or not, we recognize there are several factors which can contribute to mental health challenges, and we found them important enough to consider some ways in which we might effectively overcome them.



CHALLENGE – ON-SITE (WORKING CONDITIONS)

  1. Travelling to work can be scary/anxiety-inducing

  2. Working with, and coming into close contact with strangers can be stressful

  3. Coming home after work can be dangerous for family members/housemates


COMBAT – ON-SITE (WAYS YOU CAN OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE)

  1. Discuss workplace plans for protecting the collective health and safety of employees

  2. Remember your individual responsibility


DISCUSS WORKPLACE PLANS

According to WHO, there are numerous methods to establish a safe and healthy working environment. Whether you are creating distance by keeping people apart or limiting who is using the equipment (computers, desks or even water coolers), every step you take can help avoid virus spread. In most workplaces, basic expectations include the provision of personal protective equipment (masks, sanitizers, gloves, etc.), a routine for cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day, and a comprehensive plan for tracking and notifying for positive cases among team members.


Truth is, that when it comes to essential services, implementing preventative measures for employees and customers can be challenging and overwhelming. Naturally, this has been a huge contributor to workplace anxiety. Still, the best thing you can do to overcome any fears over uncertainty in this situation is to communicate with your workplace leaders to better understand any action plans in place.

REMEMBER YOUR RESPONSIBILITY

Regardless of the tone of workplace leaders/plan established at your job, it is your responsibility to make the smartest decisions regarding your health and those around you. Remember that in the workplace these steps are not just about protecting yourself, but about protecting everyone as a team and working to stop the spread.


CHALLENGE – WFH (WORKING CONDITIONS)

  1. Shared space/ lack of space

  2. Working from home, lack of productivity, limited social contacts

  3. Being inactive/not exercising or taking rest breaks


COMBAT – WFH (WAYS YOU CAN OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE)

  1. Communicate your schedule with housemates

  2. Build a work routine

  3. Honor rest breaks that include activities which make you happy. Consider playing with animals or getting outside.


COMMUNICATION AND SCHEDULES

There are so many things to consider when it comes to multiple people working from home under the same roof. From setting up the workplace, to determining how much time you’ll work, to figuring out who will take care of regular household chores, and how meals are going to be prepared, there are many to figure out. Before allowing things to get out of hand, consider an open line of communication between yourself and anyone you’re sharing your space with. We’re of the mind that communication mitigates every crisis, and this situation is no different. For more information on how to best manage a shared work from home experience, visit https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/two-people-work-from-home/.


BUILDING A WORK ROUTINE

According to Forbes, remote work was a full-on global work movement even before COVID-19 forced many of us to work from our homes. The ability to work from anywhere can be challenging and frustrating yet it has many advantages such as allowing for a better work-life balance or enabling employees to have more freedom.


We all know that productivity is not an innate skill, so the best method to boost yours while working from home is to stay flexible, embrace change and most importantly tailor a work from home schedule. Aspects such as prioritizing tasks, getting an early start or deciding where to work can help encourage your productivity and reduce your procrastination.


SCHEDULED REST BREAKS

Although working from home has shown several benefits, it has eliminated the separation of work and life for many. That is one of the many reasons why in this new, remote environment, resting is as important as being productive. It is highly important to take time for yourself and establish times when you stop thinking about work. In fact, “breaks, like making and eating lunch, can recharge you to do better work. Don't assume you need to be working 100% of the time while you're home to be more productive" claims Erik Devaney from HubSpot.


Take moments of recovering and disconnect by taking an extra two minutes for a stretch break, stepping away from your desk for a while or making your lunch break a bit more relaxing. It is also important to feel comfortable with incompletions at the end of the day and taking time to recharge, so you will wake up the next day ready to seize new opportunities.



C-PTSD (COMPLEX POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER)



CHALLENGE (COMPLEX POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER)

Complex post traumatic stress disorder or C-PTSD is a serious mental health challenge that some people develop after a trauma or series of traumas, or after experiencing a life threatening event. A traumatic experience could be something that happened to yourself, or a loved one, or it could be something you saw happen to someone else. While this condition is known to occur most often as a result of childhood trauma, Healthline notes that there are many other experiences that may contribute to a diagnosis of C-PTSD. If you, or someone you know is experiencing what you believe or have confirmed to be C-PTSD, please seek professional support as soon as possible. The following information is in no way a substitution for professional or medical guidance, and each note should be considered as a suggestion based on the convergence of personal life experiences and research.


COMBAT (WAYS YOU CAN OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE)

  1. Pray for yourself

  2. Develop a support system or seek therapy

  3. Use affirmations

  4. Practice sensorial self-care

  5. Consider recreational/medicinal drugs

  6. Write down your thoughts/keep a journal



PRAYING FOR YOURSELF

As noted in research published by the National Institutes of Health, “prayer describes thoughts, words or deeds that address or petition a divine entity or force.” Many acknowledge prayer as a powerful tool, useful for combating trauma, stress, and various other mental health challenges related to situations often perceived as being out of our control.


While scientific studies on the efficacy of prayer, specifically for intercession (where someone prays on behalf of another person) and overall divine intervention, have largely led to more discussions than conclusions, the psychological benefits of prayer – which have been studied for decades on end – are quite clear. Research published to Eastern Illinois University’s The Keep pointed to egoless prayers in particular as driving more positive results than ego-focused ones, and research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology about the effects of prayer on anger and aggression determined that “prayer was found to have pervasive effects on the emotional experience, social behavior, and cognitive appraisals of praying individuals.” In short—pray for yourself.


However you intend to employ the power of prayer, if you are looking to maximize benefits, it is highly recommended to exercise faith, or a substance of hope for positive outcomes which may at times seem increasingly difficult or even impossible. For interfaith resources on how to pray, you can visit https://www.wikihow.com/Pray.


SOCIAL SUPPORT

It is common for people with PTSD (and any number of mental health challenges for that matter) to believe that other people won’t accept or understand what they are going through, yet having friends and family you can talk to is a major factor that can help a person overcome the negative effects of traumatic experiences. In fact, research has long logged the link between mental health and social relationships. Everyone could benefit from the power of friendship, and building a support system can be especially beneficial for those struggling with trauma.


A support system can include anyone, such as family, friends, therapists, mentors, and healthcare professionals. A good start is to reach out to people you trust and stay connected with them. It is understandable that with the pandemic, in-person meetings may be scarce, dangerous, and otherwise impossible. Social media and virtual calling platforms offer us an alternative way to stay connected. Bear in mind that when combating this mental health challenge, you are participating in more of a marathon than a sprint—remember to take it one step at a time!


AFFIRMATIONS

Affirmations are a solid resource for anyone looking to refocus their mind, or overcome challenging thoughts and mental experiences. As Kathryn J. Lively, PhD, a professor of sociology at Dartmouth College once wrote, affirmations are most popularly “used to reprogram the subconscious mind, to encourage us to believe certain things about ourselves or about the world and our place within it.” The benefits of self-affirmation have been examined for decades, and in a study published to the National Institute of Health in 2015, research determined that “self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation.” In other words, using positive affirmations for yourself can produce mental and behavioral benefits both now and in the future.


Whether you plan to use positive affirmations first thing in the morning, religiously throughout your day, or simply on occasion, there are many ways in which you may reap the benefits of self-affirming positivity in your life. Our favorite affirmation resource is The Book of Positive Affirmations, the definitive guide to unleashing the power of positivity in your everyday life. For more information on how to access or use this resource, visit https://www.bookofpositiveaffirmations.com.


SENSORIAL SELF-CARE

Another healthy way to handle anxiety and stress is to use self-care coping strategies that are centered on improving your mood and relieving stress. Self-care coping strategies rely on utilizing your five senses to help you relax. You can help yourself unwind with a relaxing bath or treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate to promote experiences of calmness and serenity. Aromatherapy and music therapy are also popular ways to help deal with anxiety. Scented candles, a few drops of essential oil, and soothing music can go a long way to help you manage negative feelings. Watching a comedy show, playing video games, or simply catching up with a friend can also help boost your mood and make space for the deescalation of variously intense negative emotions.


MEDICINAL/RECREATIONAL DRUGS

In a report published by the US National Library of Medicine, cannabis is recognized as an option for combating the effects of PTSD and other psychological disorders. The publication notes that while research into the use of cannabis as an “efficacious intervention for PTSD” remains limited, despite growing legalization and decriminalization, it has found cannabis to contribute to the amelioration of certain features of PTSD. Individuals struggling with PTSD characteristics and using cannabis in efforts to self-medicate reported diminished anxiety, enhanced sleep and reduced nightmares. In fact, whereas PTSD was accompanied by inflammation, which may be a component of the illness and may contribute to threat processing linked to PTSD in trauma survivors, cannabis is suggested to be useful for psychological conditions that involve elevating inflammatory processes within the brain, making cannabis a potential way to reduce PTSD symptoms.


WRITING

Expressive writing is about expressing anything that is on your mind. A study conducted to determine the efficacy of expressive writing for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder shows that there is a significant improvement in mood and post-traumatic growth within the group that practiced expressive writing. Expressive writing works to help people organize their thoughts, confront traumatic experiences, and regulate their emotions. One simple writing assignment to get started with is the Pennebaker Writing Prompt, which asks us to take around 20 minutes to write about our deepest emotions surrounding a traumatic experience, and “tie the trauma to other parts of our life”. Consider trying this method, and see how it helps you.




COVID-SPECIFIC

The ongoing COVID-19 situation has been stressful and overwhelming for many people. The CDC recorded the overall cumulative COVID-19-associated hospitalization rate through the week ending November 14, 2020 as having reached 228.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 US population, one of the highest points in the pandemic. There were surges in coronavirus cases in many states around late November. Fifty states and territories have seen a greater than 25 percent increase in COVID-19 cases. With COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates increasing, fear and concern about individual personal health and the health of loved ones has become a major contributor to stress for many individuals.



CHALLENGE (COVID-SPECIFIC)

  1. Significantly high hospitalization rates

  2. Surges in coronavirus cases in many states into late Fall 2020


COMBAT (WAYS YOU CAN OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE)

  1. Build an action plan

  2. Connect with faith leaders

  3. Spread love and keep connected


BUILD AN ACTION PLAN

Review previous sections and determine what preventative actions you need, and can take both now and through the winter season. All over the world, people are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19 and to prevent the spread of the outbreak, and the steps you take matter. The World Health Organization's most effective advice is to stay home (whenever and wherever possible) and take certain precautionary measures such as washing your hands often, wearing a mask, keeping a minimum 3 feet of distance with others outdoors, and an even greater distance when indoors.


Studies have shown that COVID-19 can be transmitted from one person to another with considerable ease, that is why “understanding transmission of this virus is key to its containment and future prevention” says David Veesler, a virologist at the University of Washington. This ease of contagion makes it highly important to follow safety guidelines in order to take care of yourself and of those around you.


CONNECT WITH FAITH + COMMUNITY LEADERS

As cited on MentalHealth.gov, “Faith and community leaders are often the first point of contact when individuals and families face mental health problems or traumatic events.” In times of trouble and crisis, it can be reassuring to turn to those leaders among us who believe in both our individual and collective ability to see and affect positive outcomes, in even the most painful of situations. Beyond the interpersonal support of faith and community leaders, there is evidence to support the efficacy of religion and spirituality for health and wellbeing.


In a study published by the National Institutes of Health, it was concluded that “A large volume of research shows that people who are more religious/spiritual have better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems compared to those who are less religious/spiritual.” Regardless of your religious affiliation, the benefits of faith, especially for positive outcomes and experiences, have been increasingly verified throughout the course of history. In this guide, we accept the qualities of faith as being a substance for things we hope for, and the assurance of things we have not yet seen. For more information on a wider philosophy of faith could be defined, visit https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/faith/.


SPREAD LOVE + KEEP CONNECTED

One thing you may have heard throughout ongoing efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus around the world is the need for people everywhere, now more than ever, to spread love. Although we may be physically distant, there are plenty of ways to come together. Social media and virtual meeting platforms have played a central role in helping us stay connected during what has easily been one of the most challenging times for our collective mental health and wellbeing.


For artists and entrepreneurs, families and friends, there are so many creative ways to establish virtual connections and bond over shared interests and hobbies. Depending on your interests, you can search platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to discover virtual forums bringing people together during this time. For us, the biggest way to stay connected has been through continued conversations and projects with KIRUNIVERSE COLLECTIVE, a creative platform that brings people together to promote the curated multimedia exhibition of truth driven by self-exploration.




AUTHOR INFORMATION

  1. KIRU, CEO + Founder at KIRUNIVERSE

  2. Ted Wei, Research Assistant Intern at KIRUNIVERSE

  3. Annie Xu, Research Assistant Intern at KIRUNIVERSE

  4. Miriam Baladron, Brand Management Intern at KIRUNIVERSE

  5. Irene Bai, Marketing Intern at KIRUNIVERSE


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

For their support in the six month process of developing this guide, the authors would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who played a significant role in our efforts. Thank you to Caroline Jones and Ryan Arranz for helping proof the initial research papers on the intergenerational impact of coronavirus during the spring and summer. Thank you to Kelsey Tillinghast, who closely managed and monitored social media community relations for The Book of Positive Affirmations during her time as Marketing Intern at KIRUNIVERSE. Weekly insights and communications helped us develop the voice and overall structure of this project. Thank you to Mia Spevak for helping curate the list of fitness instructors and influencers included in the official guide published by KIRUNIVERSE. Thank you to Fahika Ahmed for proofing this project.


Additionally, we would like to thank Abra Gabrielle of HappyMadSad for professional perspective and conversational support in the development of this guide. Thank you to Jasmine Shields of That’s So Jas, Sameer Bhatia, Sadie Smith, Adrian Roney, and Ms. Rawlings for all your helpful discussions and advice during the development of this project.


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