As of April 16, the U.S. had 675,344 cases of COVID-19, resulting in more than 34, 512 deaths.
The numbers alone are enough to leave anyone at a loss for words, and that doesn’t include the endless stream of news broadcasting, which displays not only the statistics, but also stories, pictures, and videos of the horror caused by this virus. However, what truly drives people to panic is the fact that despite your geographic or demographic circumstances, no one is safe from this virus; it does not discriminate.
It is quick to spread, highly contagious, and — as was recently discovered — aerosolized, meaning it can travel 27 feet through the air. These facts have not only caused panic on a worldwide level but also led governments to issue stay-at-home orders in an effort to halt the spread of the virus and slow the rising number of cases and deaths.
Staying at home brings a variety of changes to our lives, the most obvious being social isolation. According to the National Institute on Aging, in an article about social isolation, lack of social interaction has many adverse effects on one’s mental state, for instance, posing a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression.
While the article was written in 2019, the information it provides is very relevant to the current situation of the world, as some people have not left their houses in well over a month.
This state of isolation, combined with the perpetual panic around us, brings chaos to a place many would typically go to for peace and solace: the home.
Not only does a chaotic home environment have negative health consequences, but it makes it difficult for a family or group of people isolating together to remain civil toward one another and so it becomes even more pertinent that we take time to slow down, unplug, and create a moment of calm for ourselves amid the madness.
“This is definitely a time of great concern for many families and the world as a whole,” sophomore Zoë King said. “It feels as though we are constantly being inundated with the news, which fosters many emotions, including grief, for families I don’t even know, but I think it is important that we all take time to step back and reserve a little time for ourselves. I work out once or twice every day and listen to music, which helps me take my mind off the current situation.”
Physical exercise is one of the many ways we can take care of both our minds and our bodies during a time when health is becoming increasingly crucial.
Taking time to mentally “exercise” is also beneficial to remaining calm during this turbulent time. Activities such as reading, doing art, and listening to music all work as an alternative source on which to exert our mental energy.
Practicing mindfulness, specifically in the form of meditation, has also been shown to help alleviate stress by calming the nerves and rejuvenating the spirit.
Apps such as Headspace and Calm are designed to deliver an at-home meditation experience similar to that which you would have at a yoga studio.
Headspace is particularly well suited for situations like self-isolation as it provides a plethora of information that goes beyond just meditation.
Sleep, diet, and exercise guidance is also on the app, making Headspace not just a “mindfulness” app but a platform that promotes the health of the mind as well as the body.
And while these apps help people to set health-related goals and stick to them, it is entirely possible to reap the same benefits of mindfulness without the use of a device.
Developing habits such as setting daily goals to form practices that promote a positive mindset as well as writing down affirmations or gratitudes promote a slightly less stressful and more positive and focused outlook on the day.
It remains impossible to escape this pandemic and its emotional, social, and economic effects, so it becomes increasingly vital for us to take these mental “breaks” and create calm in a world currently filled with havoc and uncertainty. It is within all of our powers to remain mentally fit and well, if not for ourselves, then for the sake of those around us.