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15 Ideas for Relieving Stress During Coronavirus Quarantine



We’re certainly living in strange times.

While a global pandemic sweeps through our nation – and across the world – there is plenty to feel stressed about.

People are losing their jobs.

Parents are forced to find a way to have their child taken care of in response to mandatory school closing.

Most terrifyingly, the weak and elderly – our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and lifelong friends – are all very much at risk of being gravely affected by COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

Oh, yeah. We’re all confined to our homes for the most part, too.

There is no shortage of stress-inducing realities that we are all facing, and it’s looking like this will be the case for the foreseeable future, at the very least.

So, it’s time to explore some easy stress relievers while we are locked in our homes with limited human contact in an effort to keep our shit together, our attitudes positive, and our outlook on each day better than the day before.

Stress Relievers in Times of High Anxiety

There are the easy answers:

  • Home workouts.
  • Reading good books.
  • Walks outside in fresh air (while keeping your minimum 6-foot distance from others).
  • Online shopping.

These are some of the more common alternatives to losing your mind on accelerate.

And they make sense.

Working out is scientifically proven to naturally reduce stress through the release of endorphins and other chemical responses.

Reading helps get the creative juices flowing.

Fresh air is always good for the mind and body, too.

But what about some other basic, not-so-common outlets for stress and anxiety in these strange times?

1. Take it Slow

Most important thing for us anxious, oft-worried people is to just take is slow.

Deep breaths and relaxation remain unrivaled.

But it’s easier said than done.

Anyone with real anxiety knows that.

Just never turn your back on the basics.

The faster we realize we need to gain control to handle what comes at us, the easier everything else becomes.

Remember to take it slow and think of the big picture.

We’ve made it this far and we’re living in a big world.

Appreciate it for what it is.

More often than not, everything falls into place.

2. Less Coffee If You’re Like Me Right Now

For the naturally anxious and occasionally uncontrollable personalities, like me, less coffee can be better.

I need at least a couple of cups to get going in the morning, especially on Mondays.

Also, I have found myself four (or more) cups deep before noon due to working from home – and making coffee by the pot.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and anxious in these uncertain times.

But I try to help myself stay grounded by regulating just how much caffeine I put into my body, especially when my total daily movement is at an all-time low.

A cup or two is all most of us need for the day.

Move onto water at some point.

Then keep your focus once you’re awake and working at a pace that works for you.

Don’t just keep drinking coffee until you’ve got the shakes and are about to explode.

(Yes, I speak from experience!)

3. Take Breaks from Watching the News

We all want to stay up to date on the current situation to ensure we have the facts and know what we can truly expect.

But there has to be a saturation point.

As a news junkie myself, I typically watch hours of news each day.

In these trying times, that’s probably not the healthiest choice.

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I’ve reduced my news-watching time significantly, mostly saving my viewing for the morning and evening news telecasts only.

The mess on Facebook is a much different story.

Sure, there can be good information on the social media platform, and it’s usually nice to have that human exposure – albeit virtually – but, we all know far too well, there’s a lot of crap on Facebook, too.

Just like we manage our time watching the news, we need to manage our time on platforms like Facebook.

Honestly, I have zero interest in having real-life contact with several of my “friends” on Facebook  anytime soon.

I also wonder why so many people never paid attention in ninth-grade library class (nor understand credibility, proper sourcing, etc.).

No matter how you slice it, we need to manage and regulate our exposure to the outside madness when it comes to the news media and social media platforms.

4. Take a Trip on Foot (With or Without the Dog)

This is an easy one.

And it’s a good one.

There are a lot of things we are currently not allowed to do.

Thankfully, walking outside is not one of them.

So long as we keep our 6-foot distance from others, we are more than welcomed to get outside, get some fresh air while we take a quick run or walk the dog, and simply get in touch with the basics of life.

Highly recommend.

5. Clean the House

If you’re like me, working in chaos is second nature.

But working in a mess is a nightmare.

And that, my friends, is one of the biggest dilemmas for working from home, at least for me.

I find it hard to get in the zone if I’m sitting among dirty dishes, clothes that need to be put away, and piles of unnecessary toys that my 3-year-old leaves laying around always.

So, I pick them up.

I’m a lucky one in that cleaning is therapeutic to me.

So, this helps in a multitude of ways.

But the biggest factor here is the mental satisfaction I get from having a home (and temporary office) that is clean and tidy.

It’s just one more way to eliminate unnecessary stress.

6. Talk to Friends & Family

As we now know, social distancing is not easy.

It’s a fun joke or punchline when we bail on our friends (maybe even several times) to claim that we just want to be home alone in our pajamas.

But being forced to stay in our homes and overthinking everything we touch for the small periods we actually leave (at the grocery store, gas station, bank, etc.) is no way to navigate life.

We need to keep communicating with the outside world while we can, too.

As mentioned, social networks help with this drastically.

But there is plenty of toxicity out there that needs to be waded through as well.

I’ve had several meetups with friends and/or coworkers since the 100 percent work-from-home mandate for non-essential employees in New York.

And, while I still don’t think I am nearly as pretty as my mom pretended I was growing up (which became even more evident after staring at myself in the webcam during the meetups), this is definitely a fun and unique way to pass the time and stay somewhat normal.

Zoom is easy to use, has some fun options for things like virtual backgrounds, and it’s free.

We may not see these people (in person) for a couple more weeks, but we can connect with them in some capacity and keep things familiar with relative ease.

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7. Start a Journal

As a journalist at heart, this is a no-brainer for me.

But, like most of these alternatives, what works for me may not work for others.

I’m just trying to provide some ideas; take what you’d like and modify as needed.

I typically don’t keep a journal or diary, but when I do revisit old notes from certain periods of my life, I’m always intrigued.

To be able to look back at a period of life and recite your thoughts is a strong, impactful way to remember the past.

Pictures are great, but written dialogue (especially when written and read by the same person) has incredible power.

It also offers some peace of mind and sanity.

It’s almost like I’m visiting my shrink through handwriting at home.

8. Meditate

I don’t personally meditate, but many friends and coworkers do, and swear by it.

It’s on the list of things I will certainly explore during this strange time.

But meditation, along with breathing and mental-awareness exercises, are sure winners as ways to reduce stress by definition.

9. Try Something New

While many of us may be reluctant to break from what we already know we enjoy, now is also an ideal time to try some new things.

Many of us will try some new programs on Netflix, maybe teach ourselves a new valuable skill, perhaps even cook up a new dish or two as we explore self-entertaining.

It doesn’t hurt to try new things.

Some of the new things I plan to do to keep my cool throughout quarantine are meditation, learn some coding skills, and definitely cooking things I never have before.

I will be trying some new shows on Netflix, too.

10. Indulge in Satisfaction… But Work Toward It as a Reward

Another big one that seems pretty easy but may be overlooked is rewarding yourself with some of the finer things in life.

A lot of us have been joking on social media about how we are going to be fat after this quarantining period is over with.

And I’m not saying it’s wrong.

Staying sane for the next few weeks may come with a few extra pounds when we are allowed to come out of our houses.

I’ll take it.

Some of my favorite “rewards” are ice cream, chocolate, Swedish Fish – even non-edibles like video games and other time-out pleasurables that help us feel good but should probably be indulged in at a regulated pace.

Some of us also enjoy alcoholic beverages.

Nothing wrong with that.

I’ve just found it best to keep myself restricted to having my first drink until after 4 p.m. when my workday ends at 5 (officially).

That time has since moved up to 3 p.m. over the last two days.

The important part is just to keep it righteous and don’t do more harm than good.

11. Catch Up With Yourself & Life

I have long said that I need 36 hours in a day to get even half of the things done I would like to in one day.

Life moves fast. I tend to, too.

But this mandatory slow-down time – if you’re lucky enough to still have a job, be able to work from home, and are in good health – has allowed me to get a lot of my messy life elements in order.

I’ve caught up on my mail. My house is clean. My laundry is done.

There is something to be said for having order in life that helps with a positive outlook.

And, for work, I am catching up on time-consuming tasks that would otherwise probably not get done anytime soon.

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12. Don’t Work on the Same Thing Too Long

I’m extremely productive when I work from home.

I also tend to go crazy a lot faster.

Something I have found useful is the ability to shift gears regularly, or as needed.

Same for when working in the office.

If you’re able/don’t mind it, change up gears and put down a 3,000-cell Excel spreadsheet to take on a task or two that are easier.

Maybe grab lunch, too.

Come back and hammer out the spreadsheet for a couple of hours.

Everybody loves a slight change of scenery, especially now.

13. Enjoy a Hobby – Any Way Possible

Face it. We don’t get enough time to enjoy the things we love.

Even if we actually do. We’ll say we don’t.

That’s why they are the things we love!

In this period of social distancing, doing more of what we love is critical.

Most of us have hobbies we like but just don’t get to do as much as we’d like.

It could be painting, drawing, knitting, writing, reading, making music, or a million other things.

Whatever you enjoy and makes you happy is the right answer here.

14. Sharpen Your Skillset

We live in a world where knowledge is very much available, and usually for free.

And knowledge is power.

Been meaning to teach yourself how to code? How to play the guitar? Learn a new language?

Now is the time.

There are plenty of free platforms out there to learn code, including Codecademy and a myriad of YouTube resources.

Fender is giving away three months of free guitar lessons in this time of quarantine.

Duolingo is a dependable easy-to-use free resource for learning a new language, too.

Heck, maybe you’ve been meaning to read (and master) Kamasutra.

Now’s the time.

15. Create

Weird situations like the coronavirus-created life shutdown are rare, but they’re real.

We don’t have much choice in the matter.

What we do with our time is important, for our sanity, but also for our production.

I can confidently say that I’ve been working more efficiently than usual on my regular day-to-day tasks, but I also feel privileged to be lucky enough to have a job with flexibility, good teammates, and good clients.

Outside of my regular eight to 10 hours of work per day, I’ve explored other ways to occupy my time and aren’t coming out of my TV but also help keep the stress down.

Working on a book I’ve put on far too long, catching up on old episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”, and re-organizing my filing cabinet are three things I’ve put time into so far in quarantine, and all have helped regulate my stress.

Do What Works for You

Some things work for some people and others work for other people.

The important thing to remember is not everything works the same for everyone.

Finding what works well for you is one of, if not the, most important element to keeping your mind right in these times.

There are many uncertainties that exist in this unsure time.

One thing we all certainly need is to keep our cool.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster



Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”


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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

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Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.


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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

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Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.


Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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Survey says: Amazon, Google more trusted with your personal data than Apple is




MacRumors reveals that more people feel better with their personal data in the hands of Amazon and Google than Apple’s. Companies that the public really doesn’t trust when it comes to their personal data include Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

The survey asked over 1,000 internet users in the U.S. how much they trusted certain companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon to handle their user data and browsing activity responsibly.

Amazon and Google are considered by survey respondents to be more trustworthy than Apple

Those surveyed were asked whether they trusted these firms with their personal data “a great deal,” “a good amount,” “not much,” or “not at all.” Respondents could also answer that they had no opinion about a particular company. 18% of those polled said that they trust Apple “a great deal” which topped the 14% received by Google and Amazon.

However, 39% said that they trust Amazon  by “a good amount” with Google picking up 34% of the votes in that same category. Only 26% of those answering said that they trust Apple by “a good amount.” The first two responses, “a great deal” and “a good amount,” are considered positive replies for a company. “Not much” and “not at all” are considered negative responses.

By adding up the scores in the positive categories,

Apple tallied a score of 44% (18% said it trusted Apple with its personal data “a great deal” while 26% said it trusted Apple “a good amount”). But that placed the tech giant third after Amazon’s 53% and Google’s 48%. After Apple, Microsoft finished fourth with 43%, YouTube (which is owned by Google) was fifth with 35%, and Facebook was sixth at 20%.

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Rounding out the remainder of the nine firms in the survey, Instagram placed seventh with a positive score of 19%, WhatsApp was eighth with a score of 15%, and TikTok was last at 12%.

Looking at the scoring for the two negative responses (“not much,” or “not at all”), Facebook had a combined negative score of 72% making it the least trusted company in the survey. TikTok was next at 63% with Instagram following at 60%. WhatsApp and YouTube were both in the middle of the pact at 53% followed next by Google and Microsoft at 47% and 42% respectively. Apple and Amazon each had the lowest combined negative scores at 40% each.

74% of those surveyed called targeted online ads invasive

The survey also found that a whopping 82% of respondents found targeted online ads annoying and 74% called them invasive. Just 27% found such ads helpful. This response doesn’t exactly track the 62% of iOS users who have used Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to opt-out of being tracked while browsing websites and using apps. The tracking allows third-party firms to send users targeted ads online which is something that they cannot do to users who have opted out.

The 38% of iOS users who decided not to opt out of being tracked might have done so because they find it convenient to receive targeted ads about a certain product that they looked up online. But is ATT actually doing anything?

Marketing strategy consultant Eric Seufert said last summer, “Anyone opting out of tracking right now is basically having the same level of data collected as they were before. Apple hasn’t actually deterred the behavior that they have called out as being so reprehensible, so they are kind of complicit in it happening.”

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The Financial Times says that iPhone users are being lumped together by certain behaviors instead of unique ID numbers in order to send targeted ads. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says that the company is working to rebuild its ad infrastructure “using more aggregate or anonymized data.”

Aggregated data is a collection of individual data that is used to create high-level data. Anonymized data is data that removes any information that can be used to identify the people in a group.

When consumers were asked how often do they think that their phones or other tech devices are listening in to them in ways that they didn’t agree to, 72% answered “very often” or “somewhat often.” 28% responded by saying “rarely” or “never.”

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Google’s John Mueller on Brand Mentions via @sejournal, @martinibuster



Google’s John Mueller was asked if “brand mentions” helped with SEO and rankings. John Mueller explained, in detail, how brand mentions are not anything used at Google.

What’s A Brand Mention?

A brand mention is when one website mentions another website. There is an idea in the SEO community that when a website mentions another website’s domain name or URL that Google will see this and count it the same as a link.

Brand Mentions are also known as an implied link. Much was written about this ten years ago after a Google patent that mentions “implied links” surfaced.

There has never been a solid review of why the idea of “brand mentions” has nothing to do with this patent, but I’ll provide a shortened version later in this article.

John Mueller Discussing Brand Mentions

John Mueller Brand Mentions

John Mueller Brand Mentions

Do Brand Mentions Help With Rankings?

The person asking the question wanted to know about brand mentions for the purpose of ranking. The person asking the question has good reason to ask it because the idea of “brand mentions” has never been definitively reviewed.


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The person asked the question:

“Do brand mentions without a link help with SEO rankings?”

Google Does Not Use Brand Mentions

Google’s John Mueller answered that Google does not use the “brand mentions” for any link related purpose.

Mueller explained:

“From my point of view, I don’t think we use those at all for things like PageRank or understanding the link graph of a website.

And just a plain mention is sometimes kind of tricky to figure out anyway.”

That part about it being tricky is interesting.

He didn’t elaborate on why it’s tricky until later in the video where he says it’s hard to understand the subjective context of a website mentioning another website.

Brand Mentions Are Useful For Building Awareness

Mueller next says that brand mentions may be useful for helping to get the word out about a site, which is about building popularity.

Mueller continued:

“But it can be something that makes people aware of your brand, and from that point of view, could be something where indirectly you might have some kind of an effect from that in that they search for your brand and then …obviously, if they’re searching for your brand then hopefully they find you right away and then they can go to your website.

And if they like what they see there, then again, they can go off and recommend that to other people as well.”


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“Brand Mentions” Are Problematic

Later on at the 58 minute mark another person brings the topic back up and asks how Google could handle spam sites that are mentioning a brand in a negative way.

The person said that one can disavow links but one cannot disavow a “brand mention.”

Mueller agreed and said that’s one of things that makes brand mentions difficult to use for ranking purposes.

John Mueller explained:

“Kind of understanding the almost the subjective context of the mention is really hard.

Is it like a positive mention or a negative mention?

Is it a sarcastic positive mention or a sarcastic negative mention? How can you even tell?

And all of that, together with the fact that there are lots of spammy sites out there and sometimes they just spin content, sometimes they’re malicious with regards to the content that they create…

All of that, I think, makes it really hard to say we can just use that as the same as a link.

…It’s just, I think, too confusing to use as a clear signal.”

Where “Brand Mentions” Come From

The idea of “brand mentions” has bounced around for over ten years.

There were no research papers or patents to support it. “Brand mentions” is literally an idea that someone invented out of thin air.

However the “brand mention” idea took off in 2012 when a patent surfaced that seemed to confirm the idea of brand mentions.

There’s a whole long story to this so I’m just going to condense it.

There’s a patent from 2012 that was misinterpreted in several different ways because most people at the time, myself included, did not read the entire patent from beginning to end.

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The patent itself is about ranking web pages.

The structure of most Google patents consist of introductory paragraphs that discuss what the patent is about and those paragraphs are followed by pages of in-depth description of the details.

The introductory paragraphs that explain what it’s about states:

“Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs… for ranking search results.”


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Pretty much nobody read that beginning part of the patent.

Everyone focused on a single paragraph in the middle of the patent (page 9 out of 16 pages).

In that paragraph there is a mention of something called “implied links.”

The word “implied” is only mentioned four times in the entire patent and all four times are contained within that single paragraph.

So when this patent was discovered, the SEO industry focused on that single paragraph as proof that Google uses brand mentions.

In order to understand what an “implied link” is, you have to scroll all the way back up to the opening paragraphs where the Google patent authors describe something called a “reference query” that is not a link but is nevertheless used for ranking purposes just like a link.

What Is A Reference Query?

A reference query is a search query that contains a reference to a URL or a domain name.

The patent states:

“A reference query for a particular group of resources can be a previously submitted search query that has been categorized as referring to a resource in the particular group of resources.”


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Elsewhere the patent provides a more specific explanation:

“A query can be classified as referring to a particular resource if the query includes a term that is recognized by the system as referring to the particular resource.

…search queries including the term “” can be classified as referring to that home page.”

The summary of the patent, which comes at the beginning of the document, states that it’s about establishing which links to a website are independent and also counting reference queries and with that information creating a “modification factor” which is used to rank web pages.

“…determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of reference queries; determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective group-specific modification factor, wherein the group-specific modification factor for each group is based on the count of independent links and the count of reference queries for the group;”

The entire patent largely rests on those two very important factors, a count of independent inbound links and the count of reference queries. The phrases reference query and reference queries are used 39 times in the patent.

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As noted above, the reference query is used for ranking purposes like a link, but it’s not a link.

The patent states:

“An implied link is a reference to a target resource…”

It’s clear that in this patent, when it mentions the implied link, it’s talking about reference queries, which as explained above simply means when people search using keywords and the domain name of a website.

Idea of Brand Mentions Is False

The whole idea of “brand mentions” became a part of SEO belief systems because of how that patent was misinterpreted.

But now you have the facts and know why “brand mentions” is not real thing.

Plus John Mueller confirmed it.

“Brand mentions” is something completely random that someone in the SEO community invented out of thin air.


Ranking Search Results Patent

Watch John Mueller discuss “brand mentions” at 44:10 Minute Mark and the brand Mentions second part begins at the 58:12 minute mark

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