Opinion: Quarantine Can Help Mental Health

Free Use Image Courtesy of pxfuel.com

Free Use Image Courtesy of pxfuel.com

The spring semester started stressfully for students around the world. Many students experienced anxiety due to the pandemic and unclarity of the future. However, now that students know that the quarantine will remain until the end of the school year, they can focus on their mental health and see how the quarantine can actually help them.

Quarantine gives everyone time to slow down and do something that they have always wanted to do, but never had time to.  For instance, Zoe Tzanis ’20 has found baking to be both time consuming and relaxing. So far she has made banana bread, zucchini bread, cookies, and carrot cake. “I’ve never really baked very much before, and it’s both fun and therapeutic. Being able to learn a new skill and make some tasty treats has really brightened up this dismal situation and makes me feel like things can still be sweet even if the world is falling apart”, says Zoe. 

Another common activity among students is language learning. Many students have been spending their time by picking up a new language. Freeman Rabb ’21, who has a passion for learning languages, says: “Dedication is the most important part of acquiring a language, and with so much free time, I think myself and a bunch of other people are going to be able to achieve a lot more during this break than we would under normal circumstances.” Freeman is spending his time by practicing German, Spanish and Japanese.

Other students have focused on making art during this time, which can help them acknowledge and recognize feelings that have lurked in their subconscious. According to Harvard’s Health Publishing, creating visual art can reduce stress and promote relaxation in people struggling with mental health problems. Poli Sotnik-Platt ’20 says, “The quarantine has given me a lot more time to focus on things that I actually want to do besides school, so I’ve been making a lot more art.”

As someone who has been struggling with a mental illness for the past five months, I have noticed positive improvement in the past three weeks.  I have created a list of things I want to accomplish over quarantine to keep myself busy. In order to do that, I am creating a to-do list everyday. My typical day consists of doing yoga, attending iSelectLearning, watching some Spanish TV show on Netflix, practicing French with Duo, exercising, reading literature, and taking an online class on Buddhism and Modern Psychology. With all these things that I am accomplishing, I feel more productive than ever and don’t experience triggering thoughts. The only thing that I miss are my friends.

However, even though social distancing means not being able to see friends in person, it gives us all time to spend more time with family. Thus, many students feel closer to their families now. “ I used to barely talk with my sister in Israel over the phone and now we talk everyday,” says  Tal Lesnik ‘20. 

Alec Kane, another member of the senior class, is happy to be spending more time with his family before he goes off to college.“My family is in a unique position because we’re in a transitional phase. My brother left for college two years ago and I’m a senior in high school, so very soon we’re all going to be separated. The one silver lining of the quarantine is that we’re able to spend a lot of time with one another, which is something we may not have been able to do for a while. We’ve been watching movies, cooking, and just generally hanging out together.”

At times like this it is important to cherish what we all have and treat this time as an opportunity to focus on yourself. Over the past three weeks I have heard many people talking only about all the bad things quarantine brings to all of us, but what if we all switch our mindset and start focusing on the positivity instead?