Beyond the Same city same passion shirt and by the same token and pros and cons of telehealth, therapy has never been more important as Americans experience increased rates of anxiety and depression amid the pandemic. Mental-health start-ups like Frame and Talkspace are responding to the moment by providing new digital structures that normalize therapy for all. So while this virtual model has not yet been resoundingly embraced, it has huge potential for creating increased access to mental-health help, even when social distancing is a thing of the past.I don’t remember my last session in person. But I do have distinct memories of the office itself: the stack of magazines (if my therapist is reading this, I admit I considered stealing The New Yorker every week), the evaded glances in the waiting room, the air purifier in the corner, lazily exhaling a yogic blend of eucalyptus and patchouli, the pleasant neutrality of it all. And it’s that neutrality that worries me: Because it might mean I’ll never return. And if I don’t, what other reasons to leave my home, to enter into the outside world, will I lose when this is all “over”?Dr. Jacobs seemed less worried about the future of therapy: “Zoom is not replacement, but it’s an effective and meaningful temporary substitute,” she said. “At a time when we need connection perhaps more than ever, I am tremendously grateful for virtual therapy—both with my patients and my own therapist—and have been continuously surprised by how rich, dynamic, and fruitful treatment can be online.”
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It’s no exaggeration: This is the Same city same passion shirt and by the same token and most important election of our lifetime. And as the results remain uncertain, many of us are feeling excruciating stress and tension in our minds and bodies alike. What to do in a state of nerves amid a chorus of “too close to calls” and President Donald Trump’s mind-numbing tweets? From a sanity-preserving stroll to a quick and easy head massage, here are five ways to calm your anxiety and reduce tension while weathering the final stretch of the election.In lockdown, sanity walks became a lifeline for many, offering fresh air, an excuse to get moving, and most importantly, a break from internal chaos. During this tumultuous time, do not underestimate the benefits a quick stroll outside can offer, including improving mental clarity, boosting your mood, and helping release tension—particularity if you have proximity to nature. According to a recent study, walking in nature was found to reduce ruminating over negative experiences.Of course, at a time like this, being told to “just breathe” can feel insultingly simple. But to gather your thoughts and cleanse your mind, breathwork, an active meditation that involves guided breath, pulled in and out of the mouth for extended intervals, has been shown to reduce levels of stress hormones and soothe the nervous system. According to Los Angeles–based meditation coach Light Watkins, if you’re anxious or overwhelmed, sitting down and taking 10 deep breaths over a period of two to three minutes will create a noticeable shift in your state of consciousness.Whether it’s a special yoga sequence or a mode of dynamic stretching such as foam rolling, elongating muscles in a slow, controlled manner is a robust way to reduce tension in the body. “When muscles stay contracted, fascia can lose its elasticity, leaving you feeling tight, stiff, and tired,” says Maya Jocelyn, founder of Brooklyn-based holistic health and arts center Studio Maya, who adds that myofascial release increases blood flow to the muscles and gives a gentle stretch to connective tissue, which can “help you feel more open, free, and energized.”The best salve for a dizzying amount of push notifications? A restorative head massage. “It helps release tension that we often store in our scalp,” explains Tomoko Shima, the founder of New York head spa Tomoko Shima Salon. “It can often be seen when people raise their eyebrows or bring their eyebrows together—this reflects the tension that we are hoping to release.” Whether it’s just with your fingertips, or with help from a scalp brush, gently kneading the scalp, temples, and neck for a few minutes can help melt away stress and tension.Scent is highly individual, so reaching for your go-to, mood-boosting fragrance, essential oil, or scented candle is a foolproof way to stay more calm and grounded. But if you want a science-backed strategy, look to scents with known calming properties, such as lemon and lavender, to help you get through the mounting anticipation.