From the moment we wake up to the time we turn our phones off at night we're constantly being being hit with media, whether it’s the CNN headlines about the most recent COVID-19 update, or the Instagram posts about how to get that “quarantine glow-up.”
It can be easy to feel anxious and overwhelmed in such unprecedented times such as these, and the constant over-saturation of information from social media can often cause more harm than good.
There’s no denying this quarantine has been incredibly difficult, for everyone. Trying to navigate this new “normal” can be dizzying, especially when every time you check your phone the headlines you see, more often than not, add to the confusion.
All of us students are at odds between wanting to read the news and stay informed about the pandemic, and feeling like every time we refresh our Twitter feed we end up more hopeless and anxious than before. In this sea of nerve-racking media overload, it’s easy to forget that even in the midst of a global pandemic there is still so much good to be found in the world.
While students all over the world are grieving for their interrupted college experience, many have been able to find the silver linings and appreciate all that they still have, rather than focusing on what they have lost. As Gonzaga University nears the end of its spring semester, students are slowly starting to develop new routines in order to finish the year with some semblance of normalcy.
Sophomore Lina Maurice reflected on the past few weeks, and noted that while nothing is completely settled yet, each week does seem to get easier, bit by bit. Maurice has tried to create routines for herself outside of school and finds that this brings a sense of comfort to her in these anxious times.
“I go for runs most days to get myself outside,” Maurice said in an email. “Minneapolis has closed off roads so people can spread out from each other when going out which has been helpful.”
Aside from running Maurice has been keeping busy by baking tea biscuits, and is looking forward to spending some time readings books that she has put off and getting back into looming.
One of the more challenging aspects of this transition for her was the day-to-day interaction with her friends on campus that she no longer has.
“I call people sometimes and [Snapchat] every day,” Maurice said. “I’m not fond of communication from a distance so that’s something I miss about being around people at school.”
While being away from her friends has been challenging for her, she is grateful to be be at home and have the ability to social distance, as well as spend time with her family and her beloved dog Ray Ray.
“My dog makes me smile because he’s a grumpy old man living in a 2-year-old’s body,” Maurice said.
A highlight of this nationwide lockdown has been that pet shelters and adoption agencies across the country have seen an incredible spike in adoptions. Now more than ever people are craving companionship and connection.
With such an abundance of time on our hands many have turned to animal adoption as a way to bring some happiness to their days, and give a home to those who need it most.
Sophomore Emily Feeney was studying abroad in Spain when she, like many students, was forced to cut her experience short and return home. She said although this was by no means an ideal way to end her time abroad, she was relieved when she was finally home and no longer had to handle the unknowns that came with facing the pandemic while being thousands of miles away from her family.
While many of us like to plan ahead as it brings a sense of ease to our lives, under these circumstances trying to plan is both near impossible, as well as often more stress inducing. As difficult as it can be, if we take our minds off of what we cannot control, and refocus on what we can control, it can make a world of a difference.
Whenever I start to feel anxious I like to make a list of all the things that I'm grateful for in my life. You'd be surprised how effective a simple list can be, and for all those list makers and box checkers out there, this can put you at ease while also making you feel productive.
Feeney also employs a similar strategy. She sets aside time in her day to reflect on the positive things happening, such as her family's ability to easily access groceries, clean drinking water and healthcare if needed.
“I am grateful to be able to stay home and still have an education,” Feeney said via email. “There are so many people in this community as well as in other countries who don’t have the ability to social distance and are at a much greater risk.”
Like Maurice, Feeney has turned to a workout routine to boost her spirits and create a sense of normalcy. Like many students right now, Feeney is experiencing heightened anxiety and stress, and has found yoga to be helpful in centering herself and refocusing her attention on more positive things.
Whether it's physical activity, taking up a new hobby or just sitting down to read that book you promised yourself you would read, quarantine has given us ample time to get creative with what we have, and people all over the globe are using this opportunity to do incredible things.
If you're looking for something to do right now, check in with your local health care providers and essential workers. When in doubt, make a mask! Many fabric and craft stores are offering free curbside pickup, and there is a plethora of articles online for how to make a simple homemade mask.
Whether you make these masks for your family, drop them off at your local hospital or donate them to a homeless shelter, you're exemplifying the good in our world.
If there is a silver lining at the end of all of this, and I truly believe there is, it is that we will all be much kinder to each other and we will take better care of one another. All across the world there are efforts being made to care and look after those who might be struggling a little more during this pandemic.
As students of GU, it is our mission to serve our communities and care for the greater good. Reaching out to those in your community who are feeling the weight of this pandemic a little more than others, would be to embody and live out our mission statement.
I know this pandemic can be terrifying and overwhelming, but I know we'll get through this, and we will do so by being kind to one another. All around the world students are turning their grim lockdowns into positive and productive experiences. This doesn't have to mean "productive" in the mainstream sense. Productivity can be running a half-marathon for one person, and reading a few chapters in a beloved book for another.
The point I'm trying to make is that even in the midst of these unprecedented times, there is still good in the world. We Zags are here for each other and while we can't be together just yet, we can continue to social distance to keep our communities safe and care for each other from a distance.
In the meantime, take deep breaths, dust off that book you've been wanting to read and take time to point out the positives in your life and the lives of those around you. And know, that although we don't have definitive time or date, this will end and we will all be OK.