Monday, 11 May, 2020 UTC


How VR helps with anxiety during COVID-19

Whether you are confined or not confined, working, or not working, COVID-19 has adverse impacts on us economically, mentally, and physically.
Due to the outbreak people around the globe are forced to make drastic changes to their lifestyle. Humans are social animals, even for introverts, we need human connections to function well. YET, as most of the world is on lockdown, we cannot just meet a friend in a café, to the gym, to the boxing class, or whatever else we normally do to deal with our stress. Some may say, “Oh, but we can do virtual happy hour and coffee break!” We don’t move to full remote for having more zoom calls. It doesn’t help increase productivity and lower our stress level.
While technology is not the panacea for the soul, I found some VR solutions to help reduce our stress and anxiety during the Corona outbreak.

1.Human Interaction in VR

There are many ways one can socialize in VR. Hang out in a private room with friends, travel around custom-made worlds meeting strangers, or attending virtual events.
The difference between VR meeting and typical video meeting is that, you are not just sharing your screen and video, but you can move around and look at things from your own perspective. This makes interactions more natural and real, just like in Ready Player One.
Footage from PokerStars VR
You can try out free VR social apps such as VRChat and VR poker to cope with your social needs. Most of them work on both PCs and VR headsets!
Let’s hang out and mingle with the others in VR :)

2. Visit / Travel

I have the luxury to work from home during COVID-19 and somehow I am overwhelmed by the number of meetings I got per day. Working from home is not a vacation at all, and what I miss most is traveling.
2020 is a special year. During COVID-19, I traveled to the world’s spiritual epicenter, Jerusalem, virtually. The Tower of David Museum has made this VR experience free to access during April 9–24. You will be able to join the tour using your phone/ laptop / VR headset.
Footage from
Besides being more realistic, VR visit gives you the right to choose your own path. Unlike normal 2D videos, you can decide what to see, listen to and interact with, and experience it in the first-person viewpoint.
You can also do your excursion using free apps such as Google Earth VR and Google expeditions, or visit museums like Musee d’Osay, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea and British Museum. However, the trips available are quite short without much interaction.

3. VR Therapy

We know that this pandemic has affected us physiologically. For those that have lost their beloved ones, those that are stressed due to the economic or health situation, we all experience a certain level of anxiety and disruption of sleeping quality, as our daily routines have been interrupted.
VR therapy is not only about exposure therapy treatment to treat phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there are also meditation and breathing VR exercises to help relieve your stress and anxiety. It is particularly useful when we are supposed to do social distancing. Using VR can make therapy scalable and safer.
Few months ago I have tested the VR breathing exercise from Healthy Mind to see how exactly it works. I had choices to immerse myself in 3D natural environments such as the forest, the snowy mountain, or a Japanese garden according to your needs and preference. I have chosen to practice paced and mindful breathing following a virtual balloon in a Japanese garden, whilst listening to some relaxing music. It is very similar to the 4–7–8 breathing exercise (for sleeping) except it is guided and I don’t have to play the 10-hour-ocean-wave-music on YouTube haha.
Footage of Healthy Mind’s VR therapy (Japanese Garden)
Their VR therapies act as a non-pharmacological solution for patients to relax in operation rooms and divert attention from pain. They are integrated with advanced psychological principles like medical hypnosis and breath control. By using the brain’s cognitive capacities, they modulate pain pathways through visual and auditory stimulations, attention diversion and cognitive behavioral therapy. The effectiveness of this technique has been proven in numerous international scientific studies.

Trending AR VR Articles:

1. Designing for a modern 3D world: A UX design guide for VR
2. How Travel Companies Can Survive The COVID-19 Crisis
3. Traditional exercise is no longer the only option when virtual options can be more interesting.
4. Build your first VR game with Oculus Quest and Unity — Part 1
I have watched their webinar and know that they are now supporting caregivers’ mental health for free during the outbreak, by relaxing them during their break. You can take a look at their incredibly well done 3D environment from this video. :)
Another similar service I have found is an application from Relax VR. They use 360° video footage and binaural sounds such as beach, ocean and wave to guide meditations and help users relax their bodies.
Of course, self-guided VR therapy comes with risks. It is better to seek medical advice before relying on it.

4. Virtual cocktail

I initially thought that it would be a gimmick like virtual coffee, found out it is actually a thing, and I found this concept brilliant given that I am running out Rhum.
Developed by Nimesha Ranasinghe and his team at the National University of Singapore, the Vocktail fools the senses, through the use of light, smell and electrical stimulation of taste, to make whatever is in the glass — even tap water — taste like, well, anything. You will be able to not only creating new cocktails but also to share your recipe with your friends.
The meaning of virtual in this case is not the same as that in VR though. The Vocktail is a glass that exists physically, but the tastes are made using technology.


The outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for people. Taking care of the mental well-being of yourself and your beloved ones will make us stronger in this period of uncertainty. To respect social distancing, VR could be one of the solutions to deal with stress and anxiety at home whilst interacting with others.

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How VR helps you deal with your stress during COVID-19 was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.