Editor's Note: This is a preview of USA TODAY's newsletter Staying Apart, Together, a guide to help us all cope with a world changed by coronavirus. If you would like it in your inbox on Tuesdays and Saturdays, subscribe here.
Put one hand on your heart, the other on your stomach.
Take a deep breath.
Does your chest or your stomach rise? If you’re like most people, you said chest. But the most beneficial place for deep breathing is via your diaphragm.
Breathe 5 seconds in, watching your stomach rise and then 5 seconds out squeezing the last breath out like the end of a tube of toothpaste.
I'm Alison Maxwell, a managing editor at USA TODAY, and this is one of the many valuable lessons I learned taking the “Resilience Skills in a Time of Uncertainty” course taught by Dr. Karen Reivich of the University of Pennsylvania on Coursera.com
Scrolling through Facebook one day, deep in quarantine and desperately trying to pass time, I stumbled on a post from a friend recommending the free course. The title spoke to me on many levels.
Within two days I was finished the first week of the four-week course and scored 100% on the first quiz. (Yeah, I went a little overboard…and certainly those that know me well are chuckling.) But this speaks to the value of self care during this time – whether it’s taking a course like this one, or something completely different that makes you happy – like learning to play the piano or picking up a new language.
Remember, it’s about YOU.
There’s something so comforting about nostalgia.
As a former competitive gymnast, I’ve been indulging my wistful need for a happier time by watching the Olympic Channel’s replays of past Olympic Games events.
Remember the vault seen round-the-world? It was the final rotation of the women’s gymnastics team competition in Atlanta in 1996, and Kerri Strug was last up, ready to clinch the gold with a solid performance. Vault 1: She falls, and is clearly injured. Vault 2: She goes for it, sticks her landing on one foot and then crumbles to the ground, securing the gold with her heroic effort. It reaffirmed that good things can happen following a struggle if you stay focused and keep a positive attitude. Check the Olympic Channel for details on TV schedules and streams.
If sports aren't your thing, here are some other options:
– Here are the best streaming services if you're in search of original films.
– Consider "traveling" with your taste buds with recipes from around the world.
– I'm obsessed with "Normal People," the new drama on Hulu based on the best-selling book. We talked to the stars about fame, the sex scenes and that viral necklace!
Today's parenting hacks
I don’t have children (unless you count the four-legged kind), so I polled my best friends from high school who have kids ranging from 9 months to 14 years for their best parenting hacks. The most hilarious, if not practical answer: “Find a good hiding spot and be sure to silence your phone.”
Some more feasible suggestions:
Meredith in New York, mom to 14-year-old Ash and 13-year-old Evie: Homemade potions! “I had to tell the kids no more using my glass Ball jars – so we’ve been saving plastic containers” and filling them with fresh-from-the-kitchen sugar scrubs and face masks. A simple recipe: 1 cup sugar, ¾ cup olive oil, plus the zest of a large orange.
Beckie in Delaware, mom to Addie, 6, Wyatt, 5, and Rocco, 9 months: Transform your kids into glow in the dark stick figures! All you need is a pack of glow stick necklaces and masking tape. Have the kids wear black clothes, extend the necklaces into straight lines, tape them on the black clothes and dance your heart out. Be sure to record video.
Michelle in Florida, mom to Ryan, 9, and Kyle, soon-to-be 7: Treasure hunt! “My kids can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes. We go on daily bike rides (sometimes 10-milers) and have incorporated treasure hunts on the rides.” The kids come up with a treasure list before departure: white shiny rock, smooth slippery rock, catch a lizard, pink flower, yellow leaf, etc.
Natalie in Pennsylvania, mom to 13-year-old Logann and 9-year-old Tyler: Sidewalk chalk drawings! With painter’s tape and some chalk, your kids can embrace their inner Monet. Search for templates on Tik Tok, where else?
If you’re like me, after weeks and weeks of being cooped up, a simple trip to Target for essentials feels like a visit to the Mall of America. So. Many. Things. To. Buy.
You don’t really need any of them, but you think you do because, well, you haven’t purchased anything substantial in so long. I typically read on my iPad, but when I whisked by the books department, the print cover of “The Woman in Cabin 10” enchanted me, so I dropped it in the cart. Now I’m hooked on author Ruth Ware. (And, yes, I realize I may be late to the party.)
Ware, who’s been compared to Paula Hawkins ("The Girl on the Train") and Gillian Flynn ("Gone Girl"), had a sleeper hit with "Cabin 10" in 2016. The thriller is about a female travel writer who thinks the woman in the cabin next door was murdered and thrown overboard. I’ve since plowed through "In a Dark, Dark Wood" (2016) and have about ¼ left of "The Lying Game" (2017). I've already downloaded Ware’s latest book – "The Turn of the Key" – which was released in August.
If you're looking for more recent releases, we gave Jennifer Weiner's latest book, "Big Summer" 3.5 stars out of 4, calling it "sexy and satisfying." And if you've haven't yet read Colson Whitehead's "The Nickel Boys" now is a good time. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this week.
– Ever wonder what The Fonz is doing in quarantine? Find out here.
– Sex during quarantine? Uh, it's complicated.
– Count us in on Disney-themed face masks. Here's where you can buy them.
– I’m digging the Reasons to Be Cheerful editorial project founded by musician David Byrne. Check out the site’s new series Now Anything Is Possible, which explores how “the Covid-19 pandemic is making changes once dismissed as pipe dreams happen seemingly overnight.” Food for thought.
– A daily prayer turned this "regular" mom into a social media star. Read how it happened.
That’s it for this Saturday. Stay safe, stay well, and the newsletter will return on Tuesday, with Kelly Lawler back in the driver's seat. If you have a coping tip or a question about the newsletter, email me at email@example.com. And feel free to fill out our survey at any point to help shape the direction of this newsletter. We want to do whatever will help you the most.
Have a restful weekend,