Veterans' tips on keeping calm during coronavirus, staying safe

As coronavirus deaths accelerate in the U.S., the  outbreak has left Americans in a constant state of anxiety.

More than 400,000 people worldwide have been infected and over 18,000 have died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

FitOps, sponsored through Performix, the brand known for premium sports nutrition products, helps veterans returning from combat and prevent them from dying by suicide find new purpose as personal trainers. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping former active duty members apply the skills they learned in the military in civilian life.

Here is advice from two vets in the program on how to remain calm during a high-stress situation.

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Leah Montalvo, FitOps graduate 

29-year-old Army combat veteran with one tour to Afghanistan.

Spent years as a civilian unexploded ordinance technician.

Now resides in Port St. Lucie, Florida with her 9-month son.

She is currently using her FitOps CVFO certification to build her brand and business as a certified personal trainer and inspirational speaker.

1. Be present

In situations where tension is at its highest, we must find a way to be grounded and present. Scan your surroundings, your people and yourself. Remember that what you can control is directly at an arm's length. Allow your mind to lose sight of things that are out of your control.

2. Lean on your community

More than likely, what one person is dealing with, someone else is dealing with the similar circumstances. Reaching out to our community in times like this reminds us that it’s not just about us. Others are suffering too. Put your energy and attention on helping the people around you.

3. Move your body

The military is known for being physically fit. The first requirement each day is to perform physical fitness training. We might be dragging along at 5 a.m. but after our morning workout, we feel good and ready to tackle the day.

4. Clean your rifle

Something as mundane as cleaning your weapon tends to be therapeutic. Keeping your hands busy can help keep your mind busy too. I’ve never once found myself in a bad mood when cleaning my weapons, even if I failed the armorers' inspection for the third time.

5a. Stay on task

It may be easier said than done, but keep true to your routine. Don't let the current situation keep you from your completing your mission. Staying on task will remind you of the things you can control. Always stay diligent, adapt and overcome.

5b. Be the leader

In high-stress situations, many will become paralyzed or choose to "flight" over "fight." Instead, rise to the occasion and be the leader your community needs you to be. Embrace courage and take the lead.

5c. Find the humor

Many veterans have dark humor for a reason. For everything that goes wrong, I can guarantee you that a veteran will make a joke out of it. The veterans who have lost their limbs at war are the ones with the best legless jokes.

Deandrew Williams, FitOps Foundation graduate

Born September 6, 1981, in Montgomery, Ala.

A father of three, Deandrew, 38, is a retired Air Force veteran with 20-plus years of service, three different career fields and multiple deployments.

He is currently finishing his B.A. in human resources at Columbia Southern and using his FitOps Foundation personal trainer certification to train clients in Warner Robins, Ga.

1. Stay physically fit

Do something as simple as walking at least 30 mins a day. Eat healthy foods when possible while avoiding things like fried foods, processed meats, or heavy episodic drinking and drug use.

2. Try to maintain a positive attitude

Find and focus on those things that help you relieve stress, and manage your time wisely. Smile often and talk to people; talk with family, friends, or healthcare professionals if needed. Social distancing 👌🏾 self-internal isolation 👎🏽.

3. Stay socially connected

Keep in touch with friends, family, or even join a club (book clubs, online chats, etc...). Evaluate the quality of your relationships; bad/toxic relationships take a toll on the strongest of people.

4. Balance and center yourself

Find a quiet place to spend time to reflect and appreciate the good things around you. If you have a religion, spend time in its practice/prayers, or even personal meditations.

5. Remain intellectually sharp and well informed.

Take an academic class in your spare; enrich your mind. Stay abreast of current affairs via multiple sources and media outlets.

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