Thursday, April 30, 2020

Tips to Manage Anxiety During COVID-19 Stay-At-Home

by Debbie Gross, LCSW

For many of you who deal with anxiety on a daily basis, the new stress of COVID-19 feels a lot like the rest of your life has been; always thinking about what’s coming, not able to be in the moment without flashes of ‘what’s next’ dancing in your head, along with sleepless nights and restless days. For the rest of the world, they have keen awareness that this new reality is tipping their lives upside down, with feelings they have maybe heard about or felt on occasion tripping them up frequently throughout the day. This post is to help everyone understand how to help yourself manage the inner turmoil so you can make the most of each day and find positivity, excitement, and laughter amidst crisis.

1. Give yourself permission to feel stressed, then give yourself permission to cheer yourself up! “How can I feel good when people are dying?” “How can I make jokes while front-line workers are overwhelmed?” “How can I feel happy when I can’t see an end to this crazy?” Those are normal questions in this abnormal time. Life is about balance. We can acknowledge the hardships, we can grieve our losses, but we can also heal, continue on, and feel pleasure.

2. When will life return to normal? We don’t have a crystal ball answer for this. We do know that there are going to be stages to the rebirth of normal. First, we will slowly begin to ease the restrictions, testing how well we maintain stability of cases. Just like we eased into the stay-at-home order, from no groups over 100, to gatherings of 25 or less, to 10 or less, to stay-at-home, these will reopen in a tiered way. We need to trust our medical and science professionals to keep us updated on data and trends so that as we reopen our society, we are prepared for all outcomes.

3. What about my events I have schedule in the summer? Or fall? When clients are beginning to date, I remind them to plan their relationship at the beginning for no further out than the length that the person has been dating. So if you’ve been seeing someone for a month, don’t plan a concert for three months from now! Same for COVID-19. We have been at this for about 5 weeks, so keep your focus on the next five weeks at most. Of course, if you need to prepare big events that are upcoming, do so, but with the understanding that everything right now needs to be done with flexibility and acceptance that we don’t have all the answers and can’t plan that far out with certainty. Try to stay focused on today, and the most immediate future if you need to look forward.

4. Will our children’s education suffer from online schooling that seems toned down from typical curriculum, or is not being managed as well by parents as classroom teachers would do with the children in their classrooms? First of all, that is as it should be! Educators are trained on teaching standards, techniques, and classroom management. They get to focus solely on students (along with differing abilities and behavioral challenges), and get most get planning time during their typical school day. Parents are multitasking all day long between work, household tasks, each child’s grade-specific needs, and extended family concerns, to name just a few things. Parents SHOULD NOT be expecting the level of success that a classroom teacher can give to your children! That said, children are the most resilient! They will come out of this just fine if they see us managing it just fine. If we let them know we will get through this, if we support their needs, if we share the frustrations but overwhelm them with activities that are engaging and fun, this will be just a hiccup in the entirety of their lives. And remember, education comes in so many forms. When they help you bake a cake, learning about order of adding ingredients, measuring, observing the process of what heat does when baking, and helping clean up, we are teaching them about math, science and home economics. When they write messages of positivity in chalk on the sidewalk for their neighbors passing by, we are teaching them empathy and kindness. When they cry because they cannot hug their grandparent, but learn to visit from a six-foot distance, we are teaching them respect for rules and that sometimes, a little of something we like can be good enough.

5. How can my life be ok right now when I cannot work, my business is collapsing, or my retirement savings is shrinking daily? Each one of us has a unique story to tell. These stories typically have generations of family who have endured suffering, hardship, grief and loss. Many tell of individuals leaving their homes, countries, family behind to come to the United States for a better future. Life is not easy right now. There are so many reasons to feel hopeless, helpless, and defeated. But there are more reasons to push through and remain hopeful. Just as a pendulum swings from one extreme to the other, so will this. We will come out of this on the other side and resume our lives, work, and livelihood. It will take time, and we will feel the bumps in the road more now than ever. But it will smooth out. If you can believe in yourself, if you can believe in your neighbor, friends, and family, we will push through this together. Ask for help if you are in need. If you are able, reach out to those around you that might be suffering and assist. One of the most blessed things that has come out of the pandemic is the number of people volunteering to help others. Whether making masks, providing meals, sending money, or giving time to others, record number of volunteers have brightened our world.

6. Take the time to notice the beauty around you. This is the number one way to relieve your stress. I look for symbols around me that represent things that make me feel good. Cardinals remind me of my father-in-law who passed last year. Hawks signal me to call my dad. Rainbows bring a smile to my face and hope in my heart. Flowers blooming on trees refresh my feelings of winter gloom with upcoming summer warmth. Seeing anything purple brings me joy. Think about what you can look for to feel happiness. I have friends who see pennies or butterflies and think of loved ones who have passed. When you go outside or take a walk, notice those things, pause, breathe, and feel gratitude. You are alive. You are valued. You are loved.

To quote one of my favorite characters, Winnie the Pooh, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” We are in this together, and we will get through this together, one day at a time.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

More Yoga/Meditation during Shelter in Place

Positively Yoga

Positively Yoga belongs to Gretchen Mallios (an LCSW with whom I did both my yoga teacher and prenatal yoga teacher training). Gretchen this sage advice on a recent blog posting at

These are uncertain times.  Uncertainty can manifest stress.  We are all in this together, and yet we are being impacted in very different ways.  Some have suffered financial and job loss, while others fear one.  Parents feel the strain of being home with their young children 24/7, while others feel the pain of isolation.  There's no escaping the effects of the pandemic; there is only choosing how to best cope.
She has a current schedule of free resources for yoga, meditation that includes the classes you find on this website as well as ones provided by Positively Yoga and more. For more wonderful self-care information from Gretchen, check back regularly to her website and sign up for her newsletter. 


BijaLiving is the creation of Julie Hunt, a regular meditation instructor at the Chopra Center and The Golden Door (and by amazing coincidence, also my neighbor). She leads guided meditations, mindfulness tips, and manifestations techniques to help transform your daily life into an extraordinary adventure of synchronicities and magical coincidences. A regular at the Chopra Center. She also offers a weekly pop-up FREE online meditation you can "zoom" into here:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Fun4theDisabled Newsletter

Subscribe Past Issues

Jackie Gadd has gone virtual
with a new, accessible 
CHAIR YOGA program!
A long time practitioner of chair yoga, Jackie has new virtual yoga classes specifically for people with physical disabilities.
Now, Jackie has adapted her work for the quarantine and has been leading virtual classes for the last month. Recently, however, she has expanded her offerings to include ENTIRELY FREE CLASSES on Tuesdays and Thursdays AT NOON CENTRAL TIME that are designed to focus on people with disabilities!!!!

A quote from her:

"I will address issues for folks with limited mobility and balance challenges; we will work on strengthening muscles, improving coordination, and a good deal of stretching to improve not only range of motion but the elasticity of tissues. One major focus will be breathwork for calming the nervous system and energizing the spirit."

To contact Jackie, find out more about her work, her classes, and how to sign up, click on the link below! 


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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Live Accessible Chair Yoga for those with Physical Disabilities

In order to help serve the needs of Accessible Yogis I am starting a Chair Yoga Class for Physical Disabilities on April 21, every Tuesday and Thursday at 10AM PST, at least until the Shelter-in-Place is lifted. This class will be fully seated in a chair. Props are optional (I will demonstrate with and without them). I will address issues for folks with limited mobility and balance challenges; we will work on strengthening muscles, improving coordination, and a good deal of stretching to improve not only range of motion but elasticity of tissues. One major focus with be breathwork for calming the nervous system and energizing the spirit. 

As these will be password protected sessions to guard against people hacking into it, I need people to sign up in advance via email. IT IS A FREE SERVICE I AM OFFERING (though I’m never one to turn away donations…. There is a link on my website). Please share this meeting post with whomever you think might be interested and I will send them the link and password.  Your help and energy are appreciated! Thank you!

The following folks are part of my inspiration: National Multiple Sclerosis SocietyMindset Fitness and YogaFun4theDisabledThe Challenge Center in La Karen O'Donnell ClarkAbilities Expo

Thank you all for your amazing support for our communities!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Free Live Mindfulness Sessions with UCSD

Due to the current situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) evolving rapidly across the United States, the UCSD Center for Mindfulness, The Sanford Institute, and the Compassion Institute  will work together to provide daily streams and recordings of mindfulness and compassion sessions to provide resources and online support to those affected.


To attend any of the sessions listed below, click on the session you want to access. This will bring you to the live online session. 

Click here to read more and see the complete schedule of events:

Sunday, April 12, 2020

ZOOM help for our live streaming

  • Make sure to select CONNECT TO AUDIO when logging in for the meeting

  • Can't see the host (me) in a large window? Click on the three dots on the box with my name and select Spotlight Video. 
  • Don't want to see other people's video images, or only see huge tiles of them
    • Click the Participant icon at the bottom of the screen to Show/Hide the list of people. 
    • You can also show just your name, a column of participants, a grid of participants, a list across the top of the page, or none by clicking the icons at the top (or left) of the participant grid.

  • See huge tiles of people and want to minimize them? Click Speaker View in the upper right-hand corner.

  •  Click Can't see the chat? Click the "talk bubble" at the bottom. 

  • You can (and should) invite anyone you want to join - just send the the link. They will need the meeting password.
  • To change your name after entering a Zoom meeting, click on the “Participants” button at the top of the Zoom window.

Click on participants

Next, hover your mouse over your name in the “Participants” list on the right side of the Zoom window. Click on “Rename”.

Click on rename

Enter the name you’d like to appear in the Zoom meeting and click on “OK”.

Enter a new name and save

  • Still having issues? Reach out to me via email and we can set up a test Zoom meeting to troubleshoot.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Yoga Spiders (Kid Yoga & Craft)

The Tiny Yoga Spider was on his yoga mat 
start on your hands and knees, ready to go like a tiny spider
First he stretched like a cow
cow pose, stretch your bellow down low and make some mooing noises
Then he stretched like a cat
kitty cat pose, arch your back up high, meowing
Then he moved an arm, an arm, an arm, an arm
each time we say arm, stretch one arm to the sky
And then he moved a leg, a leg, a leg, a leg
each time we say leg, stretch one leg up
Then the tiny yoga spider 
start to curl up very tiny
Was ready for his web/bed
rest in child's pose

  • 2 (or more) stick-on googly eyes
  • 1 small pompon
  • 4 pipe cleaners
  • 4" x 2" piece woven fabric (burlap or similar)

  1. Center pompom on one pipe cleaner. Overlap ends like a giant twist tie, securing the pom. Three to four twists should do it.
  2. One at a time, center another pipe cleaner around the center of the first and twist three to four time to secure.
  3. Place the googly eyes on the pompon top.
  4. Bend the eight "legs" about 1/2 way to make knees.
  5. Bent each leg near the end to make a "foot."
  6. Insert a few of the feet through the burlap to help the spider "stick" to the web/mat.