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Why Am I Going Crazy During Quarantine?

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Most of us have long entered the stage of quarantine where we feel like we’ve lost our minds. Now, the best thing that can happen is everything going back to normal, especially social gatherings and activities. But why exactly do we all feel like we are going crazy?

There is a pretty high chance that the inability to stay sane during quarantine has more to do with deeper psychological reasons rather than boredom alone.

If you’ve ever thought, “Geez, why do I feel like I’m going crazy during quarantine?” You can be assured that there’s definitely some real science going on behind this sense of estranged madness.

Isolation goes against human nature

First, a key lesson that any social psychology expert would most likely impart to you is that humans are social animals. That’s right—we literally feed off of social interaction to survive. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense.

We are inclined to pay attention to what other people are doing and feeling, which can have a direct effect on our own thoughts and actions. Oftentimes in what is known as the “Bystander Effect,” the very presence of other people can affect what we do because we are an interrelational species.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are part of a daily cycle of codependency and interdependency. For that to suddenly be stripped away would leave the average person a bit disoriented.

People affect people; social psychology proves that we do not, and cannot, live in isolation. This is especially evident in the well-known “bystander effect” theory.

Studies have shown that when somebody is alone, they tend to trust their instincts and react immediately, but as soon as there is another person, there is an obvious delay in their decision-making.

For example, if a man cries for help and you are the only one in sight, you would be more than likely to assist him. However, if there are two others with you, there would be notable hesitation. You and they depend on each other, and you are essentially trusting others’ instincts more than your own.

This just proves that being in isolation during quarantine and practicing social distancing are literally going against our human nature.

Yes, boredom strikes, and loneliness strikes, but the next time you seriously begin to wonder, “Why am I going crazy?” just remember that by being alone, we are defying our genetic coding, and ultimately can’t help but feel subjugated.

Cutting out social interaction can also trigger a loss of reality, decreased sense of empathy, inability to stay sane during quarantine, shorter life span, increased risk of dementia, and more, all just from being deprived of company.

Old habits have fallen apart

Second, your routine has most likely been upended since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This triggers the human brain in more ways than we know. 

Another amazing function of the human body that we often forget about is our “fight or flight” response. When you regulate your daily actions, you deactivate your “fight or flight” instincts because you’re no longer confronting the unknown.

Simply put, this means that the human body puts its guard down once it feels safe to do so. Its fear instincts are temporarily shut off so that the person can fully enjoy what they are doing. This is where the beauty of routine kicks in.

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Interestingly enough, because routine is seen as a safety belt, we allow fear and impulse to make decisions when it is taken away, versus our own conscience. If this is kept up for long enough, stress and uneasiness are irrefutably bound to follow.

Habits are powerful tools. As people used to say, old habits are hard to change. However, good habits are also just as hard to change. Habits, routines, and the ways in which we programmed ourselves to go about our daily chores are what likely kept you afloat until COVID-19.

But now, you’ve been forced to uproot your own system and create a new and less desirable one, making it harder to stay sane during quarantine.

The power of repetition and routine on both physiological and psychological responses is consequential. So, the next time you think that you’re going crazy during quarantine, take a step back, grab some paper and a pencil, and try rebranding yourself.

Health issues may arise with less physical activity

Drastically reducing or eliminating physical activity can lead to muscle atrophy. This is essentially when muscles waste away from lack of use or activity, which in turn can greatly impact mental health, too.

Many of us are already tired and lazy, to begin with, but when we had obligations such as school, work, the gym, or going out with friends, it gave us more motivation to stay on our feet.

Quarantine has not only prevented all of these activities from taking place, but it has also locked us up in our rooms, and, well, it takes a lot of motivation to leave the safe confinements of a bedroom to go on a run outside. Why not snack on a bag of chips, right? 

Keep in mind that cardiac dysfunction would greatly affect your mental health. Patients afflicted with muscular dystrophy tend to display signs of cognitive impairment, severe depression, sadness, and anxiety.

However, it has been scientifically proven that anxiety or acute daily psychological stress can result in muscle atrophy. Now we’ve really put ourselves into a vicious and unhealthy cycle: the results of anxiety are also the causes of it.

Keeping your muscles intact during quarantine by working out or simply going on a morning stroll would be doing your future self a massive service.

Next time somebody asks you during quarantine, “Why am I going crazy?” you might want to check up on their physical activity levels. Staying active is about more than just physical health or losing weight; it’s about preserving mental health as well.

The future is uncertain

For years, we have had the assurance that we could go to a college lecture, take detailed notes for an hour, and come back home after a fulfilling day. It was easy to stay sane with our repetitive and predictable lifestyles.

In quarantine, though, the pandemic controls everything from finding a job to purchasing from fast-food restaurants.

How soon can we ditch the mask? Nobody knows. Will the virus ever go away entirely? Nobody knows.

The fact that the future is uncertain makes our impulses itch with frustration, and it kills us to not be in control of our lives anymore.

To make matters worse, a tricky disease could strike at any moment, even after we take the highest safety precautions. It seems as if we are not even in control of our own health or safety, and any overprotective mom or at-risk elderly person will tell you they’ve had enough.

As good citizens, we know we should follow stay-at-home orders; but as humans, we need to know what happens next. Even when the future is uncertain, we need the answers. Our lives are at the mercy of a microscopic malefactor so unpredictable that doctors keep changing their precautions against it.

When uncertain schedules or futures stress you out, remember that you are more in control than you think. Although you may not know what will happen or how to counteract eternal time-outs, you can still stay sane during quarantine by knowing how you will react.

Will you get angry at every store closing, or will you seek out new locations to visit? Will you get angry at every new announcement of “two more weeks,” or will you be proactive and prepare back-up plans ahead of time?

Despite what you see in the media of how the future is uncertain, you are still in control of your life, and neither sickness nor struggle can take that away from you. 

We all have the feeling of not belonging

As sports are canceled and graduations are taken online, it can be easy to feel like we are not part of anything anymore. This feeling of not belonging drives us crazy. School spirit turns to dead sound while once lively neighborhoods turn to prisons.

Just as we all need interpersonal communication as humans, we also need to feel like we belong to something. However, with the only connection we feel nowadays being to our apathetic feline, we are more separated today than ever. 

If you feel like the world is running its course without you, you’re not alone. Psychology proves that we hunger to be a part of something larger than ourselves.

We need to belong to a cause — whether it be in friendship, schooling, hobbies, religion, or interests — if we want to stay sane like other group members.  

The next time you feel alone, why not join a Facebook group about a pastime you enjoy? Or, when the feeling of not belonging steals your joy, why not call an old friend who lives doors down? With technology, we have the ability to be more connected than ever. Take advantage of it.

In fact, we are already linked to one another in that we are all humans going through similar circumstances. True, our situations differ from that of others, but we are still connected in that we are going through these troubles by one another’s side.

Years in the future, we may even look back at this pandemic as something that brought our world together. 

We are feeling like life is pointless

The news repeats to us dangers and death tolls alike, as if calling for a hero to save us. And all we can do is sit back and “relax” in an uncomfortable chair. Although the pandemic is not our fault, we feel like we have to be doing something productive to save the world — but we can’t.

Instead, we are told to save the world by watching Netflix. Though this small task seemed amusing at first, every time we click “Continue Watching” on the judgemental “Are you still watching?” makes us feel we have to be doing something else. Anything else.

It gets to the point where our efforts seem insignificant and we get the feeling like life is pointless.

“I’m not a doctor,” you may tell yourself. “I’m not working on the front lines, so there’s nothing I can do to help.” Perhaps the burden worse than not doing anything is the realization that there may be nothing you can do. While you’re not wrong, though, you’re not right either.

We love reading or watching about dystopian worlds like Divergent and The Hunger Games, saying we would do anything to be as brave as Tris or as resourceful as Katniss in times of trouble. Well, now’s your chance.

If you are feeling like life is pointless for lack of effort in this pandemic, it may be the world telling you it’s time to act.

Whether that be through donations, service, or a friendly phone call makes no difference. There is no better time than now to start being the relief that your society needs you to be.

Not all of us are in the same boat

We’ve all read about people throwing block parties, flying to Hawaii, and crowding the city beaches. Depending on your situation, you might even have people in your immediate life, like family or friends, who disregard quarantine safety.

If you’re quarantined, and have been for months, then watching your loved ones go to parties and go on vacation feels extremely isolating.

This can make someone question their own perceptions. If your loved ones are hanging out with friends, and you respect their opinion, then surely, it should be fine to socialize normally again, right?

As human beings, we naturally want to fit in with our peers, and if they’re out partying, then it’s tempting to join them. Unfortunately, the rapidly rising case count and death toll is a statement against that.

Watching your peers and loved ones can make you feel crazy. It can make you wonder if the pandemic really “is that bad.” However, it’s crucial to not let this sway your opinion, and make unsafe decisions such as going to parties or crowded restaurants.

We have to learn new social vocabulary

On a similar note, the way that we interact with people is markedly different than before. From a cultural standpoint, we are not taught to how to politely decline an invitation because of pandemic safety precautions.

People need to learn how to say things like, “Sorry, you can’t come in unless you have a mask on,” “I don’t feel comfortable with hanging out because of the pandemic,” and “I feel uncomfortable when you go to parties, because I’m afraid you will catch COVID-19.”

Interactions over Zoom and other forms of calling are also different from in-person interaction. We lose a lot of the nuance of physical spaces and activities, and have to supplement them with online interactions.

Especially for people who are unfamiliar with technology, learning how to navigate an online social life is extremely draining.

Of course, how severe the effects of quarantine are, depends on one’s situation, personality, and history. Arguably, an extrovert may feel more suffocated from this social loss than an introvert who can thrive while curled up on the sofa with a book.

Nonetheless, we are all human, and we are all social animals.

As lockdowns ease up, let’s continue to do ourselves favors, be mindful, and not Google “Why am I going crazy during quarantine?” anymore.

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College Voices

5 Unique Tips for a Fresh Start in 2021

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As the pandemic looms on and remote working continues, it feels increasingly difficult to find new and better ways to start fresh in the new year. Especially at home, your immediate thoughts might jump to the towering pile of boxes in your garage or the mysterious mold that’s been growing in your shower. Of course, the ongoing pandemic has caused a worldwide case of stress-based quarantine clutter, and it’s definitely important to set aside a day (or three) to clean out that accumulated mess. 

At the same time, however, while cleaning out your physical space has been proven to improve your mental health, there exist many other methods to help clear your mind and start this year with a renewed outlook. 

Here are 5 unique tips for a fresh start in 2021

Tip #1: Mindful Eating 

Before the pandemic, when we were all rushing to our next class, to an appointment or to work, eating might have felt like an automatic or even tedious act. Now, researchers are noting the effects of the “Quarantine 15”, the weight gain many people are facing as a result of the stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic. 

As we spend another year at home, you should skip the fad diets this year and instead opt for the kinder, more attentive realm of mindful eating. Grounded in the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, mindful eating consists of a variety of ways in which you can strive to be more observant of how, when, and why you eat. 

A bowl of oatmeal and berries and banana slices.
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Whether it’s eating slower or recognizing the distinct taste of your food, you can learn to slow down and grow a greater sense of appreciation for not only the food you eat, but also the ritual of eating. This doesn’t mean that you need to give up your morning coffee or stop munching on your favorite brand of chips. Mindful eating instead encourages you to pause for a moment, really taste your coffee or chips, enjoy it, and continue on your day. By paying attention to how we eat, we can all learn to focus more on these little moments and find a grander purpose in them. 

Tip #2: Move Your Body 

In addition to mindful eating, it’s just as important to be mindful of your body and find ways to exercise it! From starting a rigorous at-home workout to performing desk exercises, below are a few fresh ways to get your blood pumping.

  1. Workout Routine 

Searching for workouts of which there are a plethora of possibilities. Including glute bridges, sumo squats, and plenty more, the article introduces all the ways you can start an easy, active routine. 

  1. Yoga 

It’s been proven how much yoga has done to relieve pandemic stress and anxiety. Its principles are also founded on philosophies similar to the Buddhist mindfulness mentioned above, so combining yoga routines with mindful eating is sure to prepare your mind and body for the new year. Though in-person yoga studios are closed for now, many are currently hosting free video classes, specifically aimed at relieving pandemic struggles. So roll out your yoga mats or find a comfortable, flat surface, and get your yoga game on! 

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  1. Desk Exercises 

Is starting a full-out workout or yoga routine too much of a commitment? No worries, there’s a reason why gym membership attendance drops significantly into the new year. Since you’re at your desk, try these quick and easy desk exercises during class or work breaks. You can stretch out your wrists to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome or, if you have a swivel chair, work out your abs by turning your chair left and right!

Tip #3: Clear Your Mind for a fresh start 

With social media piling up on hundreds of the latest news stories, it’s difficult to find space for yourself, even in your own mind. For a fresh start to the new year, pull out that notebook or journal that’s been hiding on your bookshelf, and journal it out! Not only can journaling help to improve your mental health, taking the time to write can allow space for you to critically reflect on this past year. What did you learn in 2020? What have you been struggling with? What dreams do you have for the new year? Writing it all down can help you untangle all of the complicated emotions that you may have been struggling with, and enter the new year with a fresher, more positive outlook. 

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Tip #4: Purposeful Content Consumption 

We are all definitely guilty of binging two seasons of a Netflix show or diving into an endless Internet rabbit hole. Purposeful content consumption works along the same lines of mindful eating by learning to pay more attention to what content we are watching, reading, or listening to. As we enter the new year, strive to diversify the media or content that you usually watch without a second thought. It is known that the Internet, and social media specifically, has been prone to causing political and social polarization, or in simpler terms, consuming only certain kinds of content can lead you to think a certain way (i.e. watching only cat videos and none of the amazing dog videos could lead you to believe that dogs are really not that great). So push yourself to learn about the other sides, and maybe you can develop some empathy along the way!

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Tip #5: Reach Out & Remind Others That You Care 

Start fresh in all of your friendships and relationships by making it an active goal to be more attentive to all the people you care about in your life. 2020 was the year when we learned to be more grateful for our loved ones, so put it into action! Send a message to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while, or call your mom and ask about her day. By making it a habit to consistently check in with others, we solidify our relationships with them as well. After all, humans are social creatures, and research has shown that social connections are key to our well-being! 

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While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the ways you can enter 2021 new and improved, these tips are sure to help in redirecting your perspective of how you can change things up. Whether it’s practicing mindfulness or starting little desk exercises, continue to be gentle and kind with yourself and all your new year’s resolutions. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, after all, and it’s just as important to take a day or two off for some self-care and self-love!

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College Voices

5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2021

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The year 2020 is finally over, and we have a new year to look forward to! After living ten years in the course of one, you’re ready for the next phase. If you’re anything like the majority of the world’s population, you’ve made New Year’s resolutions in the past—and broken them within a month. But you keep making them, because you enjoy the optimism: beginning a new year on the right foot, promising to be a better, more fit and a more skilled version of yourself. 

Here are ways you can stick to your New Year’s Resolutions in 2021

  1. Tell people about your resolution

Usually, we’re told that peer pressure is a bad thing. But in the case of a New Years’ Resolution, it might be just what you need. Positive reinforcement (encouragement and support) from your friends and family can push you to learn the guitar, lose the beer belly, or whatever it is you want to do in this new year. Disappointment (or the fear of it) can also push you to work harder toward your goal. If the cost of failing on your resolution is a whole bunch of awkward and sad conversations, maybe that’ll keep you on the straight and narrow.

  1. Break it down into manageable chunks

This is something essentially everybody tells you about anything, but it’s true. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—and continues, step by step. A New Years’ Resolution isn’t accomplished all at once, but rather gradually. Don’t push yourself too hard, and don’t get down on yourself if your goal is still a long way off. Set realistic markers along the way, and at each one check in with yourself. That way, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment as you go, and you’ll see your progress stack up.

  1. Care for yourself

Treat your New Year’s Resolution as what it is: a gift. When you accomplish it, not only will you get the benefit of whatever your goal is, but you’ll feel more confidence and pride in yourself. This feeling of accomplishment is full of benefits: it makes you better poised to chase down the next opportunity, better prepared to be a positive influence in the lives of others, and can even make you live longer. In making a New Years’ Resolution, and caring about yourself, you’re giving the best present you can give yourself, so don’t think of it as correcting something that’s wrong about you, but giving yourself another thing that’s right about you.

  1. Forgive yourself, don’t define yourself 

When a friend who’s made a mistake comes to you for help, do you immediately tell them that they’re worthless, that everybody knows it, and that they should just give up already? No, but this treatment is something of the norm when it comes to yourself. Unfortunately, many of us treat ourselves this way; we are quick to criticize and slow to forgive. Strangely enough, this negative self-talk often gives us permission to betray our resolutions. 

If you resolve, in 2021, to cut down on carbs and one night you give in to the urge to order a bunch of pasta on Postmates, don’t beat yourself up for it the next morning. Accept the mistake and continue working toward your goal the next day. Don’t decide you’re undisciplined, gluttonous, and have failed. Everyone messes up a few times and forgiveness is the best way to move forward. 

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  1. Use your resolution as a chance to explore new horizons 

We all have ideas about who we’d like to be, and we all face the realities of who we are. While a person who wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. and works out in order to get a clean, fresh start to the day is certainly admirable, that person might not be you. In making resolutions, pick goals that flow organically from who you are. If you don’t know who you are (because who really does?) then go into a resolution with flexibility. 

If, for example, your resolution is to get fit, don’t force yourself into a box with it. Instead, try different exercises, intensities, and intervals. Don’t stick yourself in the gym for a 45-minute routine with weights when what you’d really enjoy doing is going to a yoga class or going for a run. Realize that everybody is different, and rather than changing yourself into somebody new, your resolution can be a way of discovering who you might already be. Think of it as an exploration. Let things develop, and commit to remaining open and focused.

A list of Woody Guthrie's New Year's Resolutions on a lined notebook.
Woody Guthrie’s New Year’s Resolutions — a good role model
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The year, 2021 will likely be another challenging year. You already know why, so there’s no reason to repeat it here. But remember that you got through 2020, and if your resolution for 2021 is to just survive it sane, healthy, and maybe a little wiser—that’s totally fine. It’ll take some doing, but you’re definitely further along than you think you are. 

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College Voices

The Overwhelming Mental Health Impact of Climate Change

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People across the globe are being affected by climate change. Global warming and climate change are having detrimental effects on the Earth such as increased flooding, hotter temperatures, wildfires, and droughts. Wildlife and ecosystems are being destroyed. Sea levels are rising. The list goes on and it can be overwhelming to take in the effects of climate change. This is why mental health is being greatly affected by climate change, particularly in teenagers and college students.

Climate Anxiety

Anxiety related to the global climate and fear of environmental doom is often referred to as eco-anxiety or climate anxiety. This anxiety is a legitimate reaction to a serious problem. A large population of Generation Z is burdened by climate anxiety. This is because they are concerned about their futures considering the state of the Earth and the fatal implications of climate change. 

A contributing factor to climate anxiety is the lack of action currently being taken by political leaders. Many leaders in positions of power are avoiding climate issues rather than solving them. This has prompted members of younger generations to step up and fight for change. Young activists like Greta Thunberg have taken the lead in protesting climate injustices. But watching older generations sit back while climate change is destroying the planet can lead to feelings of frustration and anger, which are common symptoms of climate anxiety.

The mental health effect of climate change
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Climate change can be a controversial topic and there is a fair amount of conflict surrounding it. Everyone reacts differently to the topic: many people shut down when climate change is brought up and they avoid the subject altogether. Others are fearful of the effects of climate change and want to help but feel powerless. And some people are eager to take action and do their part in combating climate change. 

Many teenagers and college students have made efforts to reduce their carbon footprint by making lifestyle changes. Going vegan, carpooling, and shopping sustainably are some of the many ways to cut down on carbon emissions. But unfortunately, big corporations are some of the main contributors to climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions––a major contributor to climate change––are the highest they’ve ever been. This leaves young generations as they have difficulty believing that they can make a difference. 

How Climate Change Affects Mental Health

Every continent on the Earth is now affected by climate change. Meaning, climate anxiety is a global issue and can affect anyone, regardless of location, wealth, or privilege.

A polar bear walking.
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Many people are mentally affected by climate change because they have been faced with natural disasters, such as wildfires, serious storms, or flooding. While everyone reacts and copes differently, many survivors of these environmental disasters have some sort of lasting psychological trauma. PTSD, anxiety, depression, and grief are some of the many mental health issues that people who have lived through natural disasters struggle with. 

But you don’t need to be directly faced with a natural disaster to feel climate anxiety or despair over the state of the Earth. Just witnessing and learning about climate change is enough to cause mental health issues. There’s a sense of impending doom or existential dread that can wash over you when reflecting on climate change and its effects. 

Why Climate Anxiety is Often Overlooked

Climate anxiety is often overlooked or brushed off. This is because it can be difficult to discuss mental health concerns because there are still stigmas surrounding mental health. Climate anxiety is also typically not taken as seriously as other anxieties or mental health issues. This is because many people do not understand the serious, detrimental impacts of climate change. 

What to do About Climate Anxiety

  1. Talk to friends and family about climate change. 

Listen to their thoughts on the matter and discuss your own thoughts. Talk about the negative impacts and grieve with them. It can be healing and helpful to share your concerns with others.  

  1. Become a part of the solution

It is important to stay informed on environmental topics and to use your knowledge for good. Join a climate justice organization at your school or in your community. Connecting with others who also care about climate change can ease your worries and fears about the Earth’s future. Climate organizations are making a difference in your community and educating others on climate change. 

An oil plant dispersing white smoke into the air.
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  1. Join protests. 

If there are protests near you, make a sign and join in. Marching with other people who care about climate injustices is empowering. Protests help spark change by informing others and raising awareness. 

  1. Do what you can to help the environment. 

It is important to do what you can to reduce your own carbon footprint, but don’t become overly consumed with it. Eat a more plant-based diet, bike or carpool when you can, and use reusable bags. But try not to worry about how each of your actions will impact the environment. Those who experience climate anxiety often feel guilty about taking part in activities that affect the environment, like driving. Just do what you can and that will be enough.

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