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Jessica Abo- Best-Selling Author -Unfiltered, How To Be As Happy As You Look on Social Media

Shares Her Tips and Advice How We Can Stay Positive Throughout This Pandemic

JESSICA ABO is an award-winning journalist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of  her debut book , Unfiltered: How To Be As Happy As You Look On Social Media.  Her book addresses the relationship between our psychology and technology and how we can take back our happiness IRL (in real life) without falling into the compare-and-despair trap.  Jessica helps you push the reset button with bite-sized chapters full of practical insights from experts and psychologists.



We are honored that Jessica took the time to do this Q and A to share with our readers how we can emotionally handle being quarantined. As well as her tips on keeping our personal relationships strong and positive. This is a tough time for so many across the globe.

Please share your thoughts on how we can have a healthy relationship with social media while we are quarantined?

Social distancing really should have been called physical distancing because we are relying on social connections now more than ever. My biggest piece of advice is to not fall into the compare-and-despair trap when you go online. While more people are posting unfiltered versions of their lives these days, there are still those who will only post their picture-perfect moments (regardless of what is really happening behind the camera). This is an important time to prioritize what makes you feel good, follow people who inspire you, and connect with people who lift you up.

How can our readers stay positive while at home?

This pandemic is triggering people in different ways, so it is impossible to have a one-size-fits-all approach to staying positive. We are living through an unprecedented time, so I think the first thing we can do is identify what we need in order to take care of our mental and physical health. But that does not mean you have to be happy and stress-free 24/7 or master five new skills with this newfound “extra” time. Many people are too stressed, and stretched too thin, to think about tomorrow — let alone think about staying positive for the foreseeable future. We all have our own list of stressors associated with today’s new reality, so I think staying positive is going to require both our intention and our attention.

So, how do you do that?

Focus on what you do know.
Focus on what you do have.
Focus on what is in your control.

Let’s take these one by one.

Focus on what you do know

I know if I stay home, wash my hands, wear a mask and gloves, wipe things down, and stay six feet away from people at the grocery store, I am increasing my chances of staying healthy and doing my part to keep those around me healthy. Look at your current situation and think about what you DO know and what you are doing, instead of thinking about all of the unknowns. If you can be doing more to keep you and others safe, please consider doing it.

 Focus on what you do have

Rather than focusing on all of the work I have lost (because I give speeches and facilitate workshops for a living), I am focusing on taking the skills I would have brought to an event and transferring those online. I am doing more media training and helping people create content from their homes, which still allows me to help people. If you are concerned about your career, this is a great opportunity to explore online groups through Facebook or LinkedIn. By joining communities online, you can network, promote your skills, and broaden your brand’s reach. If you are a mother, I suggest looking into the plethora of parenting groups on Facebook or exploring membership communities like HeyMama—I joined last year and have been blown away by how these moms are supporting each other. They are offering a free one-month trial right now, too.

Focus on what is in your control

Like many of us, I do not like feeling helpless. As soon as states started going into shelter-in-place mode, I could not stop thinking about the women and children who might be quarantined with their abusers. Since I do not work in this space, I was not sure how I could help, so I started posting resources to help those in need. As I have done this over the past few weeks, others have shared my posts with their own social networks. Perhaps you can find resources in your community and share that information with yours.

Here are some ways you can make a difference:

  • Find resources in your local community that could use your support (financial or otherwise), such as Los Angeles COVID Volunteers. They are engaged in community outreach, PPE acquisition and assembly, and match students with healthcare professionals in need of services like childcare, pet sitting, and grocery shopping. The Survivor Initiative is an organization that helps Holocaust survivors living under the poverty line in New York City. Lastly, LocalSupportCard.com is a site that helps customers throughout Austin, Texas buy gift cards to support their favorite establishments.
  • Register on Helping Hands, a platform started by employees at Uber, Facebook and Google that matches high-risk people who need something brought to their home with healthy volunteers.
  • Get in touch with friends and family who might be struggling with being alone.
  • Check in with your friends who are working on the frontlines and their families.
  • Make artwork for your local senior center to display for the staff and residents.
  • Reach out to your religious institution to see if there are congregants who need help.
  • Contact your alma mater to see if students are looking for a mentor, especially seniors who might be concerned about their next step.
  • Share resources and hotlines with your own social network, such as:
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: they have downloadable resources available at afsp.org/covid19
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800)-273- TALK (8255)
  • You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline via text or call at (800)-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) (800)-656-HOPE (4673)
  • THINGS ARE LOOKING UP presents HEROES HELPING HEROES: @drdeepikachopra, created this free emotional health resource to help healthcare heroes fighting COVID-19.

How can our readers stay productive while quarantined at home?

It is important to remember that staying productive at home does not mean the same thing to everyone. If you feel like you are not acing Productivity During a Pandemic 101, a lesson to think about is something one of my mentors, Gilah Andrusier teaches. She says, “In life you have to look at what’s urgent and what’s important. Often, we get caught up in what’s urgent because we want to take care of all of the items on our to-do list. But when we focus on what’s important, that’s when we get to zero in on ourselves, and the people around us. That’s when we get to be fully present, and be the best version of ourselves for ourselves, our families, and our work.”

So for someone who is single and missing being with colleagues, walking around the block might not be urgent, but it can be an important achievement of the day. If you are comparing yourself to Karen and her color-coded homeschooling schedule, having a dance party with your kids or painting with them might not seem urgent, but it might help you regroup. We are not homeschooling our children because we are educators or because we spent months researching how to be a homeschool parent. We are crisis-schooling our kids because we are living through a pandemic and trying to keep our kids on track as much as we can.

This may be the time to re-evaluate your career path for example, how to turn your passion into a career, start a side hustle so you can control your own destiny

I have an entire chapter devoted to this in my book, Unfiltered: How To Be As Happy As You Look On Social Media. For the moment, I would say have Zoom chats or phone calls with people who are doing what you would like to do. Do as much research as you can to figure out what steps you need to take to be successful.

How important is it to share on social media what you are truly experiencing while the world is social distancing and many people feel isolated?

I think it’s important to share how you are feeling for three reasons:

  1. Unfiltered posts can help you feel like you are not alone
  2. Unfiltered posts can help the people following you feel like they are not alone
  3. Unfiltered posts can help us laugh!

Recently I saw a post by someone I follow, but do not know personally, who took a picture of her groceries in the sink and commented on our new reality of washing every item. I had just finished wiping and soaking everything my husband brought home and commented on her post. We are so fortunate to have food in our homes; and, both acknowledged the amazing people working on the frontlines to keep all of us safe and healthy. But, we admitted this might be the chore that makes us go bananas. For a brief second, two strangers connected over their new normal, and the world felt a little bit smaller. We have the ability to create connections every time we go online and share our unfiltered, unedited truths. You might be the person willing to share. You might follow someone who opens up. If you are going to spend time online, make it meaningful.

Should our readers be watching the news 24/7 throughout this Coronavirus crisis?

I think Hannah Platt, MSW and therapist, says it best: “In some ways, watching the news can feel helpful, as it is a way to feel in control and on top of what is going on. In this time where we all feel so out of control, having a grasp on what is happening in the world can be a coping mechanism to help us feel on top of the situation.” With that said, if watching the news is consuming you, simply take a break. Platt says if it “becomes more of a source of anxiety than a source of control and relief, stop watching, or watch in moderation. Limit your viewing time to an hour each day, or pick a few days a week to tune into the news and a few days where the news stays off.”

Why are some people unphased by the stress of this pandemic?

I think the people managing well right now are those who have hit bumps in life before and know they will get through this. I have heard the phrase “failure deprived” used to describe the way many parents are raising their children today. In a world where making a mistake is the “end of the world as we know it,” we are sending kids to college who are so overwhelmed that they ask their parents to pick their classes. Then, we are sending kids into the workforce whose parents actually call employers who do not give their child a job offer to give the employer a piece of their mind.

It is no surprise to me that so many people are freaking out about what they are going to do after we come out of quarantine. With workers being furloughed and laid off, this is a very scary time. For many people, however, this is an even scarier experience because they have never had to think about reinventing themselves. They have never had to pivot on their own; now, more than ever, the lack of experience and lack of confidence that someone can pick themselves up and keep going, seems daunting.

How can we be more resilient in life, so the little things do not set us back?

Aviva Goldstein is an educator, lecturer, and family counselor with a private practice based in Jerusalem. She believes that resilience can be learned at any age. Whether you are a parent holding your kid’s hand during this uncertain time or the young person on this emotional rollercoaster, Goldstein says we grow more from uncomfortable moments than comfortable ones. Furthermore, she believes we can find ways to guide ourselves, and our kids, toward perspective, empowerment, altruism, and resilience. 

“When your college senior is disappointed that their graduation will not be taking place, validate those feelings. You can let your child know that you get how disappointing it is and you can also be the voice that encourages them to look beyond their individual experience to understand the broader world around them. That’s how they can begin to craft the skill of perspective-taking.” Building on that, I also would ask your child what they would like to do to honor the milestone they’re missing—whether it be their prom, graduation ceremony, or a job promotion. Maybe your would-have-been-prom-bound student has another idea for how your family can celebrate. Maybe you can have everyone get dressed up and join you on a Zoom call, while someone announces your graduate’s name and everyone watches your kid walk around the kitchen in their cap and gown. This is a great time to empower children with how they think you should make the most out of this situation.

As Goldstein says, “Encouraging responsibility facilitates the opportunity for a sense of control, of ritual and routine. More than that, though, to empower ourselves and children (of all ages), being responsible to someone else sends the message that we, and they, are not powerless victims, that we all have strengths and capabilities that are useful to others, and that in order to get through this troubling time, it requires the energy and efforts of everyone, including us.” She adds that altruism is about giving to others without focusing on the self, which can help remind us of our own power and creativity and distract us from the heaviness of these hard times. But she knows all of the above takes work and practice — that’s where resiliency comes into play. “At the starting line, this might seem like an impossible feat. Only once we cross the finish line do we realize that we are capable of achieving really hard things. Crossing the finish line is, in itself, the mark of resilience. When things are challenging, how do we endure the challenge in a way that clarifies what we are able to accomplish?”

Please share your best tips on how we can take this time to strengthen our personal relationships, whether you are quarantined with loved ones or talking to friends and family online?

If someone you know is going through a hard time, you might not be sure what to do, what to say, or if you should contact them in the first place. I would encourage you to reach out and let that person know you are thinking of them—during this time of isolation and always. If you are quarantined with loved ones, think of the ways you can make memories together. Record stories about the past so you can make a video of your family history. Make up a dance routine or a family song. Cook up a recipe that’s been passed down from previous generations. Make a list of questions that help you capture what is happening now, how you are spending your time, and what you look forward to doing so that when this is over, you remember how you got through this chapter of your lives. Ask friends with children in other states if your kids can be pen pals. Set up a Zoom reunion with friends you have not seen in years or do a double date with a couple who you had plans to see. The beauty of technology today is that there are so many ways to use it for good and stay connected!

Learn more about Jessica by visiting: https://www.jessicaabo.com/

You can view her find her empowerment videos on Entrepreneur.com