It is December: “The most wonderful time of the year.” We have just celebrated being thankful for what we have and are now focused on giving. So why do we not feel jolly? While the answer to this question is obvious, many of us are paralyzed and are not taking the actions necessary to reduce the toll it is taking on us both physically and emotionally.
While much of the focus of the restrictions during the pandemic has been on the economy, not enough attention has been given to our emotional wellbeing. We, as humans, are social creatures who are accustomed to having control over our environment. We have an innate desire to interact socially. But when this is interrupted, we find a way to adapt. While we approach the light at the end of the tunnel, we should now focus on techniques to get through the darkness that currently confronts us.
As I have discussed previously, Generation Z has rates of anxiety and depression higher than any previous generation. This is often attributed to our phones, our culture, and the way in which we interact with one another. While some of us have confronted these feelings prior to the pandemic, there are many who are suffering for the first time.
As someone who has dealt with these feelings both before and during the pandemic, I cannot offer a “quick fix” or “10 Surefire Ways To Have Fun During COVID.” Unfortunately, it is not that simple. We are complicated individuals and our minds reflect that, but we all share the simple desire to be happy. I would like to offer a few of my personal strategies to make the next few months a little brighter.
1: It is okay to feel (insert your favorite adjective here) during the pandemic.
Whether the adjective you chose was lonely, anxious, sad, or even just bored, it is critical to know that these feelings are completely justified and that you are not alone. While it may be difficult to discuss with your friends, reach out and talk about how you feel. You will find that many are feeling the same way. Take some pressure off of yourself; roll with the punches and take it day by day.
2: Do something that makes you feel happy every day.
Go for a walk, sing along to your favorite song, read a book, or have a catch. It truly does not matter what activity you choose as long as you enjoy it. Personally, I feel very lucky to spend time with my brother while he is home from college due to the pandemic. Whether it is time spent playing video games together, watching TV, or driving around town, I always end up feeling happy.
3: Remind yourself that the future is bright.
Just as the Spanish flu of 1918 was followed by the Roaring Twenties, I am optimistic about our future. Try to keep in mind that these days are fleeting and that better times are ahead. Our lives will not be this way forever. The day where we can once again be shoulder to shoulder at a concert, with barely enough room to breathe will come. Remember: This too shall pass.
—Zack Siegel is a student at Schreiber High School