How are you coping with the coronavirus pandemic?

Meetings Today’s Tyler Davidson talks with Kristine Iverson, owner and founder of wellness company CROW Practice, about strategies all of us can incorporate to calm the mind and ease the body while we navigate the global pandemic and resulting economic turmoil.

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[Start Transcript]

Tyler Davidson: Hello, and welcome to this Meetings Today podcast. I'm Tyler Davidson, the chief content director and vice president of Meetings Today. We are joined today by Kristine Iverson, the owner and founder of CROW Practice. Thanks for joining us, Kristine.

Kristine Iverson: Thank you for having me, Tyler.

Tyler: And I think CROW Practice, really quick, stands for a Coordinated Response On Wellness. Can you explain what your company does?

Kristine: Absolutely. We are a team of wellness providers, a one-stop shop, a bit of a hub of wellness, if you will.

Tyler: And I sort of liken it a bit to what a lot of our listeners might be familiar with—the concept of a technology hub at a conference where there'll be a room set up with all sorts of various technology experts to help attendees, and you guys sort of do that, but for wellness, in a way?

Kristine IversonKristine: Correct, exactly. I'll say pre-coronavirus many of our clients would come to us for a Zen Den. So as a one-stop shop we could provide acupressure, meditation, aroma therapy, a sight, sense, sound experience, with many different holistic wellness providers.

Tyler: And yeah, I guess a funny, or unfunny, you have mentioned coronavirus, but that is what everyone has been impacted with and is talking about. And it's also sort of ironic that I recently did an interview with a marriage therapist—relationship therapist—about the stressors of working from home and those stressors on family relationships.

I initially wanted to talk to her about another story, and it was exactly the same thing with you; I really wanted to profile what you guys do and offer to meetings and events, but, you know, since then, the COVID-19 virus has just torn through the industry, and from talking with you earlier, it has affected you personally and professionally as well.

Kristine: Of course. I realize I am not alone. You know, our entire industry, our friends, our vendors, our clients, our clients’ clients—this is truly a global pandemic. So if there's any comfort in knowing that I'm not alone…

You know, there are so many it’s. It's an opportunity for me to focus, remember and be grateful for what I do have, because I recognize that I am much better off than many, many other people right now.

[Related: Inspiring Stories from the Meetings Industry During the Coronavirus Crisis]

Tyler: And how are you coping personally through this? I believe you, like myself and millions of other people, probably, are basically working out of your home and not able to go on the road. How are you coping, just from a psychological standpoint and what sort of wellness mechanisms are you utilizing and tools to really keep yourself balanced?

Kristine: Sure, yeah, thank you. I’ll kind of just share some tips that I'm personally using and would recommend to anyone. One, it's creating as much structure as possible. Especially for those of us who had busy schedules; structuring the day however best we can to provide some semblance of grounding because there is so much still going on.

So, grounding and structuring the day is important. I use the Insight Timer [Meditation] app and recommend that highly; it is free. There are many, many free meditation apps out there. But I would recommend to anyone, if you do not have a meditation practice, now is certainly the time.

I am trying to limit the news as much as possible. And getting outside as much as possible. So I've been playing a game, right: “Everyone has it and so do I.”

Tyler: So okay, describe what this game is? Maybe little more description on that?

Kristine: All right. So the game I've started to play…What's been troublesome for me about the coronavirus is that, in fact, I could be a carrier, someone else could be a carrier and not showing symptoms. So in my mind right now, when I go outside and I walk around the lake, I in my mind I pretend that everyone has it as well as I may have it.

So it's a new fun game that I have. Taking another tip that someone shared with me—they believe that one of the reasons the virus will spread so quickly is it will get on our shoes. So obviously, you know, our shoes, the ground can carry a lot of germs. So that's one way that it's entering the home.

So now there is bleach by the front door, shoes remain outside. Yeah, it's the new norm.

Tyler: You know, so much of what is offered in the wellness community is not done virtually. You did mention some great meditation— a great meditation app—but a lot of it is hands-on and it's connecting with people. How are you adjusting to that? And I believe you're even offering some sort of virtual form of what you're doing currently, correct?

Kristine: Yes, absolutely. Myself and my team right now simply want to remain in a place of service, whether that's in service to an individual, a company, our clients, our clients’ clients—we're not asking to be paid right now.

So Mondays and Fridays, we're offering free meditation, mindfulness, stress management tips and techniques over Zoom [use meeting ID 221 667 028]. We're offering virtual meditations. We've gotten a few requests for this, but truly anything that myself and my team can do right now to assist, support, help in this transition, because we are all transitioning together into a new norm and truly a new world on the other side of us.

Tyler: Well, you know, people right now have the stressor of perhaps working in an unfamiliar environment such as out of their home, and the stressors that that brings with being with their family members, kind of all cooped up.

But there's this much, much bigger sort of issue now, especially in the hospitality industry, with a lot of people being furloughed or losing their jobs. They may not know if they're coming back at all.

Do you have any tips for people that might be going through that, to sort of cope during these tough times?

Kristine: Yeah, absolutely. Uncertainty and a feeling when your source of income is suddenly taken from you due to something that’s no cause of your own. And this is many, many, many people.

So I feel tips and advice: One, reaching out and staying connected to other individuals. Obviously, being as resourceful and innovative as possible—looking into finances, pulling credit cards.

I know that in Orlando, there's 211. There's tons of resources and assistance out there from the perspective of stress management.

If all of our suffering is caused by our own thinking, it is truly a time to focus on our mindset. Because what is happening in one's external world of losing a job, and possibly both individuals, in a partnership even, losing a job. Having kids, having kids home—it is a time to do as much self-work as possible, be as resourceful as possible and focus on gratitude.

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Tyler: And I know even from a professional standpoint, all of us I think, in any profession—it's hard to find time to do sort of the legwork, such as keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date, maybe taking part in educational webinars, now that you have maybe a little more time.

So, I mean, I would assume things like that would be a good mechanism also.

Kristine: Exactly. Truly. Cognitively there's a technique that we use in our Be Well games called cognitive reframing. And one of the questions, ironically enough, is what if there was a worldwide technology blackout? How would you flip that and reframe that?

But to phrase it to what we are all experiencing, what if there is a global viral pandemic? So flip this crisis into an opportunity. Flip the crisis into utilizing your downtime into building a skill, building a hobby.

I've seen, certainly on social media, some people have been so creative finding ways that you are able to contribute. And it may not be a place financially that you're able to contribute, but how can you do something for the greater good right now, in the chaos?

Tyler: And I'm really noticing that right now, especially. It's interesting covering this; you sort of see the stages people are going through. At first, it's sort of disbelief and shock. And now it's like we're transitioning.

And I'm noticing this from meeting planners and suppliers, where they are sort of, you know, thinking about, “How can I make a difference to people who might need help right now.” And we're actually asking people to send their stories in like that so we can share them with our audience, too.

Kristine: Yeah. I think it's important to know that these things are taking place. I think it's important to focus on that type of energy, that people are truly rising up, people are truly rising to the occasion. And there is a lot of good that is happening within this transition.

But I also recognize that there are a lot of people suffering and there are a lot of people with a lot of anxiety. And quite frankly, in a lot of despair and worry and anxiety about the future.

Yeah, so truly, mindset meditation. When we connect to our breath, we are good in the present moment.

Tyler: And you mentioned the game you played earlier, so let's transition and play a game like, “This whole thing is over, we're back to meeting, things are as back to normal as much as possible.”

Explain what you offer to meetings and events, and sort of walk people through that. You mentioned earlier that it's really a collection of experts, and you can't really just have one person who's an expert in all these fields. So, explain what your offering looks like.

Kristine: Yeah. So to do some visual imagery, I’d like to imagine with the virus that they find a cure and things are back to how we operated in the past and how we hope and intend to operate in the future.

If someone wants a wellness provider—if you're looking for an acupuncturist, you would call an acupuncturist. If you're looking for an aromatherapist, you would call them. If you're looking for a nutritionist, you would find them.

We have a hub, a one-stop shop of acupressure, a lot of aromatherapy. Our Veda, which is Indian Vedic—it falls under nutrition. I'll say there's definitely an aspect of nutrition. Massage classes. A lot of yoga, Zumba, boot camp. Qigong, mindfulness, reflexology…yoga is very popular; puppies and yoga are very popular.

[Related: Live Events Community Launches Coalition to Lobby for Coronavirus Aid]

Tyler: Puppies and yoga? Okay, yeah!

Kristine: Yeah, absolutely! We have a lot of yoga fusions.

Tyler: Nice. I've heard of goat yoga, also—we've run some stories on that. I think puppies makes that even more desirable. I know I'm a dog person…

Kristine: Yeah, yeah. Honestly, they're so cute and cuddly, you know? We could all use a bunch of puppy love, right now!

Tyler: Yeah, definitely. So I'm guessing that for meeting and event planners, you can take this around the country to wherever their event is and scale it up or down according to their needs?

Kristine: Yes, absolutely. We are based in Orlando, Florida. We're quite active throughout the state of Florida, particularly South Florida. We are also in Chicago. Maria is our CROW provider in Chicago. And absolutely, we can travel, we can service in any area. But our hub I'd say is throughout Florida and in Chicago, currently.

Tyler: Where can people learn more information about CROW Practice?

Kristine: Sure. I'll direct them to our website, CROWPractice.com. We also have a Facebook [page], and yeah, we're happy to communicate with anyone and offer any assistance to anyone at this time.

Tyler: Excellent. Well, thanks for joining us, Kristine.

Kristine: Thank you so much, Tyler. I really appreciate it.

Tyler: And that was Kristine Iverson, owner and founder of CROW Practice. And thank you for listening to this Meetings Today podcast.

Head on over to MeetingsToday.com; we have a wealth of podcasts on a variety of topics with industry thought leaders we think you'll enjoy. So head on over, check ’em out, and wherever you are—at home, in your office, coping through all of this right now—we're thinking of you and we hope you make it the best day you can.

Thank you for joining us.

[End transcript]

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