Author Archives: Lynda Cusano

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3 ways to protect your mental health during – and after – COVID-19

13 Apr 2020

Karen Rommelfanger Director, Neuroethics Program, Emory University Alvaro Fernández Ibáñez Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-Chief, SharpBrains

  • Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to prevent the virus’ transmission affect our mental health can help us adapt;
  • From focusing on everyday boosts to mental health to empowering our communities, these expert recommendations can help.
  • Improving our mental health hygiene now could help us create a “new normal” for mental well-being in the future.

How many of us right now are experiencing a heady cocktail of confusion, anxiety and even some surprising moments of respite from our pre-COVID-19, always-on-the-go culture?

In a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45% of Americans felt that the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health (19% felt it had a “major impact”).

Our traditional media and social media feeds are filled with urgent and often conflicting imperatives to change our routines and be constantly vigilant.

The online onslaught of rapidly updating media stories reporting worst-case scenarios can fuel fear and panic. Uncritical overconsumption of such messages can erode one of our most precious and essential human resources for weathering the COVID-19 storm: our mental health.

Even before the virus outbreak, depression and anxiety have been noted as defining features of our times. Isolation and uncertainty are not going to help us deal with the new realities of our newly virtual lives – virtual work, virtual schools and virtual family care – under the incredible stress of unfamiliar circumstances. Read more

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Tips to manage loneliness, anxiety while social distancing during coronavirus

By Lauren Dozier , GMA

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, Americans are being urged to stay home and practice social distancing to help “flatten the curve” or slow the spread of the outbreak.

In a growing number of states across the country, that means all non-essential businesses are closed, all non-essential gatherings canceled, and millions of citizens are limiting their interactions with one another — essentially a full stop on daily life as we know it.

And while all of this is for the greater good, the isolation can take a toll. Feelings of loneliness can have a negative impact on mental and physical health, and can exacerbate anxiety and depression, according to the American Psychological Association.

“When we have to be physically separate, it’s so easy not to feel nurtured,” said psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach.

Keeping up with social connections is crucial right now to fend off feelings of loneliness and anxiety, which can be heightened amid the global pandemic. Read more

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It’s not too late: How to prioritize worker mental health during a pandemic

Working from home so suddenly can negatively affect employees’ mental health, but technology may be able to help, experts said.

It’s not too late: How to prioritize worker mental health during a pandemic

Working from home so suddenly can negatively affect employees’ mental health, but technology may be able to help, experts said.

Photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash

AUTHOR Sheryl Estrada

PUBLISHED April 7, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has cautioned that fear and anxiety about the virus can be overwhelming. 

In fact, more than 4 in 10 adults (45%) responding to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation Health poll said worry and stress related to COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health, up from 32% in early March. ​Mental health wellness must be a priority in the workplace during these challenging times, according to experts, and technology can play a role in increasing employee access to care.

“One in every 5 American adults experience some form of mental illness — over 43 million Americans,” William Kassler, chief medical officer of government health and human services at IBM Watson Health, told HR Dive in a phone interview. A work environment can have both positive and negative effects on an employees’ mental health, Kassler added.  

The traditional workplace has changed for many since late February when the CDC advised businesses to start preparing for the spread of COVID-19, specifically focusing on transitioning to telework. Working at home and the disruption of one’s usual routine can be very stressful, said Kassler, a health policy expert and practicing primary care internist and epidemiologist. But research has shown that most employer-sponsored health plans do not offer coverage for mental health that’s comparable to their physical health offerings.

It’s not too late for companies in a time of crisis to implement mental health strategies, Kassler said. However, they will be in response mode. “In a pandemic response, there are three phases: preparedness, response and recovery,” Kassler explained. “Right now if you’re asking, what can employers do, well, the time for preparedness is gone. They can only respond.”  Read more

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8 relaxing activities to help you cope with coronavirus stress

If you feel overwhelmed by the state of the world and need to relax, do these activities.

By Caroline Roberts,

If you’re currently undergoing mandatory quarantine or self-imposed social distancing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, you’ve probably seen posts online about how this is the perfect time to get your life in order. Even CNET has plenty of articles about how to be productive, including staying on top of your exercise routine to cleaning your whole house

While focusing on productivity is helpful for some, many of us are struggling to just make it through these stressful times, and don’t take much solace in reading about how to improve ourselves right now.

If this sounds familiar to you, I have good news — there are plenty of activities you can do to help you feel grounded and less anxious. I spoke to Tara Martello, a meditation and mindfulness coach, who told me about how trying to be uber-productive adds unnecessary pressure to an already tense situation, and how we can institute basic meditative practices into our quarantined lives instead. Read more

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Setting priorities every 4 hours: the new normal for leaders

The way we need to work now is more than just adapting to the work processes we had in place last week, as we moved to our new virtual workforce.

By: Scott Cawood | March 30, 2020 – Human Resource Executive

As leaders right now, we are doubly challenged. We must run our business, but, of course, in a new uncharted world. While we are still in the business of making money, most of how we did that a month ago is irrelevant. The way we now need to work is more than just adapting to the work processes we had in place last week, as we moved to our new virtual workforce. Traditional methods about employee performance must be jettisoned in favor of a refocus on the whole person. Your employees aren’t just going through COVID-19 as employees; they are going through as full people. We must change how we lead and how we work to adapt to this new reality and not retreat back to our past ways as the market corrects. Yesterday, we were leaders and employees, but today we are all humans scrambling forward. Read more

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The coronavirus crisis thrusts corporate HR chiefs into the spotlight

In a pandemic, a chief people officer can make or break a company

from The Economist, March 24, 2020

WHEN THE financial crisis rocked the business world in 2007-09, boardrooms turned to corporate finance chiefs. A good CFO could save a company; a bad one might bury it. The covid-19 pandemic presents a different challenge—and highlights the role of another corporate function, often unfairly dismissed as soft. Never before have more firms needed a hard-headed HR boss.

The duties of chief people officers, as human-resources heads are sometimes called, look critical right now. They must keep employees healthy; maintain their morale; oversee a vast remote-working experiment; and, as firms retrench, consider whether, when and how to lay workers off. Their in-trays are bulging. Read more

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CORONAVIRUS Resources and things to do during self-isolation


While we are staying at home the foreseeable future, there are plenty of things to keep us all going. We have fun ways to pass the time, ways of bringing people together even when we’re all apart, and things to keep moving forward.

Check out our resources and things to do during self-isolation. Read more

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COVID-19 Is Coinciding With a Loneliness Epidemic


Government Executive

The novel coronavirus pandemic demands social distancing, quarantine and isolation so that vulnerable individuals are not exposed to the virus and healthcare systems are not overwhelmed. Collectively, we understand the goodness of “flattening the curve.” Each of us must do our part to slow the spread of the virus and COVID-19, the disease it causes. But it is not the only epidemic we are facing right now. The requirement to separate ourselves from others comes at a time when America and many other nations are in the midst of an epidemic of loneliness whose antidote is greater positive social connection. 

Our current situation—the simultaneous need to reduce physical distance and to increase social, or relational, connection to curb the rise in loneliness—presents a challenge for us all. Ignoring the need for connection at this time is not an option. Research suggests that the majority of individuals today lack sufficient social connection. This connection deficit may exacerbate the negative effects of stress and diminish physical and emotional resilience that people will need to fight the COVID-19 virus. 

Relational connection is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, there are steps people can take to boost social connection while maintaining physical distance. Individuals can still experience the physical and emotional health benefits that arise from sufficient meaningful connection, which will help them fare better through this difficult time.  Read more

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10 science-backed strategies to try if you’re stressed about COVID-19

A clinical psychologist explains the simplest things to do to ease anxiety during the pandemic.


If you find it hard to stay calm during this COVID-19 pandemic, you are not alone. From the constant news updates telling you about the most recent death counts or border closings to the long lines at your local grocery store and the stock market gyrations, it is hard not to feel the effects of this health crisis. If you are lucky, your business can still be run remotely without much impact on your bottom line. But if you are in the hospitality, restaurant, travel or event business, it’s having a serious effect.

No matter who you are, feeling stressed and afraid is a normal response to an illness about which there is still so much to learn and a health crisis for which the country seems unprepared. But even if you don’t succumb to the coronavirus, the chronic stress that may result from constant fear and anxiety about the illness, and the isolation caused by social distancing and quarantine, can cause physical symptoms of its own. Read more

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5 ways the COVID-19 crisis will transform HR’s role

by Tim McElgunn March 24, 2020

HR Morning

Human Resources is at the front lines of employers’ response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The crisis is forcing almost every business to immediately develop, adapt or improve remote work policies and procedures.

As HR pros struggle to keep employees safe and informed, it helps to think about what changes will be more permanent and how you’ll guide employees and organizational leadership through those changes.

Here are 5 effects that you’ll likely be dealing with long after things return to “normal.” Read more