5 Products I’m Leaning on Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s an interesting time out there, folks. That’s an understatement. I’m currently on Day 10 of Social Distancing/Stay-at-Home, and there are a few things I’ve been leaning on more than others throughout this experience.

This post contains links to merchants but I am not affiliated with nor am benefiting from writing about any of them. Honestly, I’m too tired to even go through the process of signing up to get paid for any of these mentions, so these are 100% honest reviews of products. I’m hoping sharing this information helps you through this period, should you be seeking.

1. BetterHelp

BetterHelp is a tele-conferencing website aimed at connecting people with qualified counselors online using chat, text, and video conferencing. I’ve been a regular user of BetterHelp since November of 2019, but I’m really leaning on it now while I get used to staying home. When I signed up in November, I filled out a questionnaire and was matched with a Counselor who I feel was tailor made for me. She has been exactly what I needed then, and even more of what I need now. The best part is, you can chat your counselor between sessions AND set more than one session a week if you need one–something that would be very hard to do in the in-person world. Right now, that’s impossible, so BetterHelp is a great option for counseling if you’re just getting started or haven’t found a therapist you love.

2. Calm

The Calm app is everything to me right now. You can get a 30-day free trial to use the app, which could cover you for most of the time we’re all stuck at home. Some time ago, I’d signed up for the annual membership of the app, and that has more than paid for itself in access to meditations, “courses,” masterclasses, sleep meditations, calming music, and more.

A few weeks ago, I came across the Self-Compassion Masterclass by Tara Brach. Her Masterclass and her RAIN method have been instrumental in my approach to managing stress, having self-compassion and compassion for others, and staying as mindful as possible during this time.

 

3. Zoom

Zoom is the real MVP of COVID-19. While there are other web-conferencing options out there, I’ve found Zoom to be the easiest to set up, most popular (and therefore most likely to be adopted by groups), and most adaptable to different applications/groups.

My recovery from alcohol and my involvement in the recovery community makes up the largest chunk of, well, me. Recovery groups depend on unity and consistent connection with others–quite the opposite of the isolation and social distancing we have to observe now. Zoom (and other web-conferencing apps like Zoom such as FreeConferenceCall.com, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Facebook Messenger) has made it possible for groups and members of the recovery community all over the world to continue meeting during the pandemic.

That also means that Zoom can work for just about any gathering you’re normally a part of, too. It’s free to get started, though you only get 40 minutes on the free version. I signed up for the $15.99 upgraded plan so that I can have longer meetings–a small price to pay for sanity.

 

4. Viteyes Blue Light Gummies

Okay y’all. Something we’re not talking about and SHOULD be talking about is the increase in screen-time for all of us while social-distancing. And while I’m not here to preach to you that you should be in front your screen less (do what you gotta do to survive), I do think we should consider the long-term effects of this screen time after the Coronavirus. Viteyes, a maker of eye vitamins for supporting macular health, also makes vitamins that support eyes that spend a lot of time looking at screens. I look at screens all the time anyway, but including these tasty gummies as part of my routine helps me feel a lot better about doubling (or even tripling) my normal daily screen time using the aforementioned apps.

(PRNewsfoto/Aaptiv)

5. Aaptiv

I freaking love Aaptiv. I’ve been using Aaptiv for almost 3 years now, so this app is a no-brainer during COVID times, too, especially if you’re like me and prefer a motivating instructor to get you through a workout. With hundreds (I assume hundreds) of audio workouts for everything from outdoor running to strength training to gym equipment (if you have that), Aaptiv makes it easy to focus on yourself and your body (in a healthy way). During all this, anything that takes my mind off of what’s going on in the world is a welcome reprieve.

There you have it: the five products keeping me sane and healthy right now as I practice social distancing through the Coronavirus pandemic.

What products are you leaning on? Tell me in the comments below!

 

 

Are You Giving Too Much Feedback? 3 Tips to Help Your Feedback Mean Something Again


Because you’re probably just annoying.

It’s no mystery that consistent feedback helps cultivate anything from relationships to organizations. In offices, we ask for feedback to do our jobs better. Among friends, we want feedback to be certain we’re doing right by them.

Feedback, candor, and honesty are often regarded as helpful and constructive. Most people have a problem with either giving and receiving feedback. As a result, most of the literature out there is speaks to those groups.

Let’s say you don’t fall into either of those camps. You LOVE feedback! You give feedback All. The. Time!

Yet, though you’re committing to giving feedback, you’ve noticed your teammates aren’t quite as enthusiastic about your consistent feedback. Worse, it feels like they’re increasingly in denial or arguing with you about the issues you’re raising.

Is it Them? Or is it Me?

An inability to accept feedback is, admittedly, an employee performance issue. In certain instances, it can highlight a lack of character or maturity.

Yet, if you’re noticing a pattern among a variety of people, or if the response you’re getting increases in firmness or intensity, it is worth considering if you are the problem.

It’s likely your feedback is causing you more damage than you think.

Photo by Frida Bredesen on Unsplash

The Problem with Too Much Feedback

Recently, a friend and colleague confided in me that they were noticing they were getting push back to their regular feedback. After doing some perfunctory investigating, we determined their team is feeling Feedback Fatigue, or mental resistance to too much feedback.

Feedback Fatigue can cause rifts in working relationships, make teammates feel unnecessarily wary of their actions, and cause a breakdown in future communication.

Most importantly, too much negative feedback can damage the reputation of the feedback giver — an unexpected outcome for someone who is usually trying to provide solutions to those around them. Sadly, you might just be coming off as a complainer or a critic — neither of which add to employee morale.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

What To Do If You Suspect You’re Giving Too Much Feedback

Fortunately, you can take steps in a more constructive direction. Your reputation isn’t ruined, and you’re not a big jerk who’s been hurting everyone’s feelings (only you will know if that last part is accurate, but I’ll leave that to you to decide).

Here are the steps you can take for your feedback to be taken seriously again.

1 — Ask yourself some tough questions.

You can’t rectify a situation until you have a good idea of the actions you’ve been taking. Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

How much time do I spend giving negative feedback?

How much time do I spend giving positive feedback?

How am I giving feedback currently? What do I normally say?

Am I providing solutions along with my feedback, or am I only telling them what they’re doing wrong and expecting them to figure out the rest on their own?

Now that you’ve taken some time to consider what you’re doing, let’s discuss some action steps to take moving forward.

2 — Go on a Feedback Diet

I recognize this is asking a lot of someone whose default setting is to give feedback whenever possible. However, if you’re suspecting you’ve caused Feedback Fatigue, you may want to take a break from feedback for enough time to see your relationships and concerns with more clarity.

Focusing on feedback could blind you from seeing the situation as it truly is. If you are jumping at any opportunity to give feedback, you are likely not taking a moment to pause and consider the context in which the infraction is taking place.

Further, you may notice the way your teammates react to you when you approach them. Do they appear to be guarded or defensive? Do they seem wary or even afraid of talking with you? Reserving your feedback in favor of observation could illuminate fissures you didn’t know existed.

3 — Choose Your Battles, and Choose Less Battles

Not every concern requires immediate feedback. Issues often resolve themselves with time, or there can be circumstances that are causing issues in isolated cases.

After your diet, try adding feedback into your day-to-day slowly. When the desire to give feedback arises, ask yourself if it’s necessary to give feedback right now, and if you’re the right person to give it. Perhaps others have already mentioned this issue to the offender and they’ve started working on it. Or, maybe it’s not your place to give this feedback — their supervisor or desk partner would better carry the message.

You may choose to skip speaking up entirely, only to find it become a non-issue after a few days.


Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

Once you’ve determined you’ve been destructive instead of constructive, you can begin reconnecting with your teammates in ways that help everyone become better at their roles. These tips are only the beginning of a new path, but they set a strong foundation for productively communicating with others.

Before you know it, people will listen to your feedback again.


Jamie E. Hammond is a Social Media Manager by day and Indoor Cycling Instructor by midday. She sleeps at night. She is a competitively trained public speaker and holds a B.S. in Sociology from Bradley University. Her interests include: learning about what makes people commit to their workplace, her husband, her fur-babies (dogs), and her feather-babies (chickens). Join the mailing list.

Just Because I Quit Things Doesn’t Make Me A Quitter.

Even if that’s all I’ve done until now.

Each time I create some piece of art for the internet, whether it be a written piece, a social media post, or a page on my website, I always get the same sick feeling before I hit publish.

Putting myself out there is hard for me, mainly because every time I hit publish, I feel like I am saying to the world, “I’m here again! See! I did it!”

That feeling is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I look at that feeling and say, “look at me, reclaiming my time and space in the world.” On the other, the more practical side of me, is saying “what if this is the last one I do?” or worse, “what if they all think I’m not going to keep this up?”

“What if they think I’m a quitter?”

My Finish Rate Appears Poor

Before I started my brand new blog, I became hyper-aware of this feeling. Suggestions on the internet say that if you’re going to write an article or launch a website, you should tell your friends. Use your network, etc.

“But, what if I’ve already used my network?” I thought. I’ve had a lot of failed ventures, all that started with the same enthusiasm and doe-eyed dreams. Over the last few years, I have started (and not, ultimately, continued) a beaded jewelry Etsy shop, a crocheted hat Etsy shop, and a paper-flower Etsy shop. There were other projects, too — jobs, relationships, commitments — but for some reason, the Etsy shops are the most visceral because those are the ones I launched to my friends, got their support, and didn’t continue.

Each time, I’ve “used my network,” they’ve kindly supported me, and I’ve just given up on the project. It either takes up too much of my time, or I’m not passionate about it, and I move on to something new.

So, naturally, when I started writing and launched my blog, I thought, “surely, this is the same. I quit those things, and I’ll quit this too.”

I Follow Through with The Things That Matter

This process has allowed me to get some perspective. When I’ve tried, in the past, to investigate what did and did not work, I’ve shied away.

For example, one thing I noticed (writing this article) was that these “failed projects” I’ve been carrying as a burdens all had something in common: they were all Etsy shops. They all required heavy labor for a small price and a unique audience seeking my wares.

When I look at the things I haven’t quit, the things I’ve continued today, I’m surprised by how much those projects matter more. I’ve stayed clean and sober for six years. I’ve been a Cycling Instructor for just shy of a year. I’ve been writing every other day for two weeks (not long but still pretty good). I’ve been in a committed relationship for five years. I’ve adopted two dogs and kept them alive by feeding them, loving them, and taking them to the vet when necessary for five years.

The life I’m surrounded by is full of things that I have loved and nurtured — things that I’ve chosen to cultivate.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Quitting Isn’t The Same As Pausing or Walking Away

This reflective process has taught me that the parts of my life I haven’t carried on into this new season of my life were set down for a reason.

As mentioned earlier, they took too much time. In other cases, they were too stressful to continue. The return wasn’t worth the investment of time, money, fear, or pain.

Every Experience Teaches You Something

I’ve started to notice that my criteria for starting new projects and investing time in new commitments has also become more strict. I can look at a high-labor project and say, “yeah, that’s not for me.” I can consider taking on a new group fitness commitment and think, “maybe the one I have is sufficient.”

That perspective has come from repeated failure and quitting. I only think those things today because I’ve hardened towards what matters in my life.

Further, it’s not like those projects didn’t teach me something. Each time I launched a new Etsy shop and its related social media and digital marketing accouterments, I learned something new. The first project taught me how to start an Etsy shop. The second taught me how to use MailChimp. The third taught me where to find my audiences and how to help something gain traction organically.

My skills have all layered on top of one another to make me who I am today. That same kind of tenacity I had with each of those times didn’t go away; I just channeled it differently when I started writing. I funneled that energy into something productive, instead of a low-return project.

“An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he’s in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots.”

— Charles F. Kettering

My failures are making me better at not failing. My failures are making me bulletproof.

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

Quitting Could Be The Strongest Thing You Do

I used to think the fear of being called a “Quitter” kept me from starting new things.

While I’m glad for the things I learned during those experiences, I’ve sharpened my senses to know when I should tolerate something for the long-haul and when I should put it down.

Fear of quitting didn’t stop me from starting things — it stopped me from starting things that don’t matter.

Now I can look at the things I’ve quit with a sense of pride and gratitude. I’m not a quitter; I’m a starter.

Most people don’t start anything.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Quitting a Project


Life is too short to hold on to things that don’t serve you.

Between all the projects I’ve started, stopped, and resumed, I’ve identified some specific questions I ask myself when I am not sure whether or not to continue spending time on a project.

Sometimes, the project becomes too time-consuming; other times, I lose the fire that was once inside me to pursue it. No matter where you are when you start getting “The Quits,” I suggest taking a hard look at your time spent on your project through five lenses.

5 Questions For Could-Be Quitters

  1. Does spending time on this project serve my long-term goals?
  2. Am I passionate about spending time on this project?
  3. Is spending time on this project productively impacting my life?
  4. Is spending time on this project taking time away from other priorities?
  5. Is this project something I can resume at a later date?
Photo by Berny Steiner on Unsplash

Let’s unpack these questions

Does spending time on this project serve my long-term goals?

If you haven’t done any long-term goal planning, this is an excellent place to start. Author Laura Vanderkam suggests writing out a List of 100 Dreams to begin considering where your time should be going (and if you’re spending it in the right places). If you don’t want to spend the time writing out 100 Dreams (my first time trying it I couldn’t get past about 20), you could try jotting down the five most important things you want to achieve.

Consider where you want to be in five or ten years before turning back to your project. Does it fit? If it doesn’t, will you be okay with knowing you chose to spend precious time working towards this project instead of your goal?

Am I passionate about spending time on this project?

I have a pesky habit of thinking I’m passionate about something when, in reality, I’m just doing it for the wrong reasons. I’ve tried any number of get-rich-quick schemes that don’t, ultimately, strike any passion within me.

Take a good look at your project. Are you passionate about it? Are you finding yourself inspired by it during the day? Are you excited to share news about it with your friends?

If you’re finding yourself avoiding this project or making excuses not to complete it — it might make you happier to walk away.

Is spending time on this project productively impacting my life?

Sometimes our time spent is constructive, and other times, our time spent is wasteful or destructive.

Ask yourself what you are building with the time you’re spending on this project.

If you’re not making yourself or the space around you better — maybe it’s time to put this project down.

Is spending time on this project taking time away from other priorities?

It should come as no surprise that when you choose to spend your time in one area of your life, you’re doing that at the expense of something else. And that might be perfectly fine, depending on what that is. You may choose to start a new painting class that happens at the same time as your indoor cycling class, knowing you’re sidelining the bike to pick up a paintbrush.

On the other hand, there are projects that take time away from our well-being and relationships. In my own experience, I tend to go down the rabbit hole on my online projects and suddenly forget my husband, home, and dogs exist. When my projects begin to take time away from the areas of my life I cherish most, I have enough red flags to start slowing down or hit the pause button.

Is this project something I can resume at a later date?

You don’t have to do it all right now.

While we shouldn’t waste our lives, the time we spend on this earth can be (if you’re lucky) long and fruitful. Most of us aren’t psychics. We can’t say for sure if stopping something now closes the door on it forever.

Choosing to stop something today does not mean you can’t pick it back up in a week, month, or year (or ever, if that suits you). Sometimes your project isn’t best for your current season of life. Setting something down with acceptance (rather than guilt) allows you to come back later with a fresh, wiser perspective — or grace for choosing to stop something that doesn’t serve you.

Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

Quitters Get a Bad Wrap

Fortunately, spending time on any commitment teaches you skills that you can apply to future jobs or projects. The work you’ve done so far wasn’t a waste in the grand scheme of things. There comes a time, however, when that learning stops and you’re just spinning your wheels.

Quitting has a bad connotation, but it doesn’t have to. Sometimes, stopping means you chose, instead, to start something better for you. Only you can decide whether or not something is serving you — and if you could be spending that time more productively.

Overwhelmed By Your Time Off? Try Writing a Can-Do List

Time off and To-Do Lists can be paralyzing.

Photo by James McGill on Unsplash

I was looking forward to this Thanksgiving break a lot more than I am now that I’m in it.

I got married in early October of this year, so after all the hubbub, family-ness, and travel of that period, I was really looking forward to hunkering down for the rest of 2019.

I’m privileged to work for a company that gave us both a half-day on Wednesday and a full day off on Black Friday I looked forward to this Thanksgiving break as an opportunity to do all the things I don’t normally prioritize: rest, writing, working on updating my blog, working on my e-course, looking up dog training, exercising, etc. That means I said no to most any travel or get-together plans. Thanksgiving travel? No way. Christmas travel to see family? Already saw ’em. I had “stuff to do.”

And yet, here I am. Doing nothing.

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

Doing Too Much

I have a tendency to do too much on any given day. My To-Do Lists are always unsustainable and un-achievable. While I’ve worked on this and done an impressive amount to shorten my daily To-Do list, setting out to do an achievable amount of things continues to be difficult for me.

Therefore, for me and many others, writing a list or “just choosing a few things that can be done” is not a realistic option for me today.

The Reality of Too Much Time

Now here I am, a little into the Thanksgiving holiday, overwhelmed and lonely. I miss my family, and I have more time than I’ve had in a long time to do whatever I want — and it’s paralyzing.

I’m not the kind of person that gives myself a lot of time to relax. And, as much as I’d like to say that I’m excited about all this free time, it’s anxiety-inducing. I start to think about all the things I should do with this time, making an ever-lengthening list and unable to start on anything.

Photo by Author

The Can-Do List

In moments like this, I have to give myself grace rather than keep spinning my wheels. Since my mental well-being is tied to my ability to make progress, I have to give myself something that I can use to move forward — even if I’m only moving forward a few inches.

Instead of emphasizing the things that must be done (the “must” is implied by the “To-Do” part), I have written a Can-Do List.

When I write tasks as things I can do rather than I must do, I regain accountability and control. Suddenly, I’m not looking at this time as something I need to fill with productivity and getting things done.

By seeing my tasks as things I can do, I see more opportunities than things to overcome.

Photo by Glenn Case on Unsplash

Here Are The Things I Can Do This Weekend

Doesn’t that already sound more fun? I’m immediately more excited to see where my time will take me.

  1. I can write a new article for my blog and Medium (check!)
  2. I can go to the gym and run on the treadmill
  3. I can meditate
  4. I can reach out to a friend and see how they’re doing
  5. I can call my family and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving
  6. I can design my branding for my blog and social media
  7. I can record my past articles so that they are more accessible on Medium
  8. I can update my Facebook Business Page and finally start inviting people to “Like” it (while that’s still a thing)
  9. I can get ahead on work for my day job so that Monday’s inbox is slimmer
  10. I can catch up on The Crown.
  11. I can write the script for my e-course on Public Speaking
  12. I can take the e-course I got suckered into buying from a well-targeted Facebook Ad
  13. I can get some sleep.
  14. I can go for a walk.

The list goes on. You get the point.

At first glance, my Can-Do List looks a lot like a To-Do List (that’s because it’s the same thing as the To-Do list in my brain with a different title).

But when I read a list of things I can do rather than “should” do, I get to choose where my time goes without the overthinking and disempowering play track.

Photo by Author

Possibility Over Productivity

When I look at this list, I see possibilities. None of them have to be done. None of them will kill me if I don’t do them. No one will notice if I don’t do them. And now, I get to choose my own adventure.

A life of possibility is a lot more fulfilling than a life of requirement. It makes it easier to see this as a list of things I get to do, which then makes me feel more grateful and excited about the luxuries and privileges afforded to me today. Now, I can refocus on the things that I am physically, emotionally, and financially able to do. When I do that, it’s a lot harder to live in fear.

Life is more soft and joyful when I’m focused on possibility. If you find yourself paralyzed, I hope you are able to find your possibilities, too.


This article also appeared on Medium.