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  • Ari Goldfarb

Looking for Normal

Keep Calm and plan

This is an unprecedented time and while this blog usually exists to offer insight on the markets and finance it’s important to remember your mental health and plan for that as well. While this self-isolation and social distancing period has the potential to expand for months it’s important we find ways to mitigate the disruption. Here is some advice.

1) Maintain a virtual work schedule if you can. Having to work deliberately keeps you active, keeps a sense of normalcy, boosts your brain activity and will prevent you from falling into sense of driftlessness. If you currently cannot work then taking the time to either practice a new skill (through youtube tutorials) or create content for work (like launching a blog, podcast, or writing a book) will help keep your mind active.

2) Strategic use of social media. This is not to say keep off entirely. In fact in a time of crisis connecting to others all over the world is a great way to see the humanity existing in others and maintain intelligent communication. Currently the use of social media is allowing me to discuss sports, and books with internet friends, and engage in virtual book clubs. What you have to be careful of is aimlessly scrolling through twitter. This will not only lock you in a time void, it will overwhelm you with images and messages of the very worst catastrophes happening in the world. You may justify this as wanting to stay up to date on current events, but no one has to be THAT up to date. One way to combat this is by scheduling 10-minute segments into social media use, and downloading other messaging apps (like Voxer, a walkie talkies app) to keep the direct messaging aspect of the platforms alive without the need to login.

3) Scheduled outdoors time (if possible). Having a dog forces me to go out at least twice a day, but it’s no secret that sunshine and fresh air is healthy for the body. Having a back porch, a patio, a courtyard, or a patch of grass you can find solace in will help lighten the burden, and create a more dynamic environment during a stagnant time.

4) Scheduled fitness. There are free apps like Sworkit (for the specific workouts like core, cardio, upper body) and Downward Dog (for yoga) that will give you much needed physical activity during this time. While it may not be as easy as blocking off an hour at the gym, creating two to three ten minute segments for stretching, cardio, and resistance training will not only maintain your healthy habits, but also give you brief windows of concentration that shut out the stresses of the world, release endorphins to your body, and boost your immune system.

5) Read! While streaming makes entertainment simple, it’s important to create environments where you’re doing more than consuming. A Netflix session makes you a receiver but a book requires mutual interaction. Your imagination creates the world you read and your curiosity in the characters spurs creativity. While streaming comedies is a great way to ease the pressure of the outside world it’s important to maintain some proactive thought. If you’re interested in reading, here is a list of books that have been helping me:

a. Creativity Inc (the story of Pixar and its success), The Journey of Crazy Horse, The Wheel of Time, The Stormlight Archives.

It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be stressed. These are unprecedented times, but it’s important to maintain the actions that keep us alive and make us feel human. Communication and deliberate actions are the key. While the world reacts to this crisis we can at the very least own our actions.

Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James.

Raymond James does not necessarily endorse any of the third party apps or books mentioned.