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By Olavo de Macedo Collins April 16, 2020

Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19

Involuntary confinement is one of the defining features of this global COVID-19 pandemic. No matter who you are, your perimeter of life has probably been dramatically downsized. Whether you are spending more time on your own or sharing your quarters with close ones (forgive the pun) you are probably having to find a way to adapt to an at least moderately, and perhaps radically, new lifestyle. This new reality is having an impact on many people’s sense of normalcy, and even on their mental health. In response, mental health professionals have been offering techniques to help people cope.

According to a review published in The Lancet using cases of quarantined patients from the SARS other outbreaks (such as H1N1 and Ebola), a good place to start is to ask, what is causing you stress? The answer, of course, can be different for each person. Is it a fear of infection? Frustration and boredom around the lack of physical freedom? Inadequate supplies? Inadequate information? Like in medicine, a proper diagnosis is important before you can figure out how to approach the problem. And if you’re not sure what’s stressing you out, do you have someone you trust you can talk to? Not only can sharing with others help clarify your feelings, but it can be therapeutic in and of itself, because it helps us to feel less alone, more connected.

According to an article titled “COVID-19 Lockdown Guide: How to Manage Anxiety and Isolation During Quarantine” published by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, there are also some concrete measures you can take that might make your time in quarantine considerably easier. The article provides 6 tips that encourage us to focus on what we still do have control over in this crisis.

First, for anyone in quarantine, the article recommends trying to keep a routine, or to add some kind of structure to your day. Doing at least one productive thing in the day can help you feel better overall and having different periods of time associated with different tasks can help prevent the sense of the hours and days all just blurring together. Even rituals such as a daily walk with the dog or a Facetime with Grandma could give you something to look forward to every day. And beyond a single day, you could also try keeping a routine over the week. For example, you might want to spend more time making supper on Fridays or have a special movie night on Saturdays.

Secondly, it is recommended that we should try not to obsess over coverage about the coronavirus. Many of us might have more time on our hands, and as a result many of us are spending even more time on our phones, jumping from one news outlet or social media platform to another, following the endless coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. But we need to watch out for two things: 1) not to stress out the ones around us by constantly bringing up the virus; it might be a temporary stress reliever for us, but be aware of the emotional labour you are asking your counterpart to do; and  2) to monitor the time we spend on social media. According to a study published in Guilford Press, people who spend on average less than 30 minutes on social media tend to feel less depressed and lonely. In this time of physical distancing, live face-to-face, voice-to-voice interaction, which could mean more old-fashioned phone calls, is the most likely to comfort us.

Third, try to keep your environment as organized as you can, and include cleaning up as part of your routine. This should make your house or apartment somewhat less claustrophobic and your space (which is now a limited resource) more optimized. Additionally, you can try to keep different places associated with different activities: for example, if possible, not eating in your bed or working on the couch. According to Professor of Psychology Marty Lobdell, simply having a lamp at your desk that you only turn on during work could increase your productivity.

Fourth, you could try to start doing something productive, but also fun, with the extra time you have with the quarantine. Just like Doctor Horacio Arruda, who is learning how to make the best natas (Portuguese desserts), you now have extra time to catch up on reading Das Kapital or playing guitar.

The fifth tip from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America is to try to reframe your mindset away from one of frustration. According to an article published in UVA Today (a University of Virginia publication), taking the curiosity-oriented “mindset of an anthropologist or a journalist observing a social experiment” could provide much needed distance and reduce stress. If you aim to understand your situation better, you will probably deal with it better.

If you’re living with others, try as much as possible to schedule not only time together but also time apart, in separate spaces from each other.  Always being around people can be draining and staying in confined spaces with someone can lead to tensions. While in cohabitation, different times and spaces can be allocated to being alone and being with others, just like in non-quarantine life where you’re not in constant exposure to your family or other roommates

Finally, going outside, according to the same UVA Today article, as well as exercise (perhaps a jog or an indoor workout session) both have many positive effects such as a decrease in depression and a boost in confidence. One technique taught in every 102 and 103 CEGEP gym class is the setting up of SMART goals: make your objectives specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and set within a certain time frame. This method can also apply to any other goals you may have, including navigating a global pandemic.

All these tips encourage us to be intentional with our time. This intentionality ––consciously implementing one or more of these techniques––can transform this quarantine into an experience that, while challenging, is not traumatic, and may even in some ways prove fruitful.

And one last note about a helpful quarantine mindset: the authors of the articles above all emphasize the importance, not just for others but for our own mental health, of thinking about not just “me” but also “we.” Our voluntary quarantine is designed to help others as much as ourselves; that means if you’re stuck at home, you can remember the good you’re doing to those who are more vulnerable and for all our health care workers on the front lines. Same principle within the scope of your family or of your community: helping others (if possible) can both alleviate the struggles that others might be going through and boost your own morale.

 

Sources

The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence in The Lancet 
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext

COVID-19 Lockdown Guide: How to Manage Anxiety and Isolation During Quarantine
https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/covid-19-lockdown-guide-how-manage-anxiety-and

How to Protect Your Mental Health During a Quarantine
https://news.virginia.edu/content/how-protect-your-mental-health-during-quarantine

About the author

Olavo de Macedo Collins is a first-year Liberal Arts student who founded the Noir & Blanc newspaper at the Académie de Roberval, and who now works for the SPACE magazine as an editor in chief. During the summer (fingers crossed), Olavo is also a sailing instructor. He is driven by a vivid sense of curiosity for everything and anything, and his long-term goal is to improve the state of democracy in the world, whether through education, media, or state politics. Short term, however, he is just trying to get better at spelling.

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    Khayden

    August 31, 2020

    In the piece Mental Health In The Time Of Covid, by Olavo De Macedo Collins, I find that the article perfectly embodied most, if not all, the problems people were or still are experiencing in during this pandemic. The mental health of many people, especially students, had definitely been affected tremendously at the beginning of this pandemic. Students not knowing how their grades will look at the end of the semester, the class of 2020 not receiving any graduation, having to start your cegep career from behind the barrier of a screen. These are all challenges students like me have faced in the last couple months. Finding motivation has been extremely tough throughout covid, but as the author states in the article, scheduling your days and accomplishing one goal per day are excellent ways to keep your state of mind at it’s best. This pandemic may have a=had a physical and mental toll on all of us, but looking onward, I guarantee that this quarantine will make everyone much stronger individuals.

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    elinalabonte

    August 31, 2020

    Olavo De Macedo Collins was able to highlight many challenges that a lot of us are facing due to the pandemic and the changes it brought on our daily lives. In the article Mental Health In The Time Of Covid-19, Olavo reported tricks that we could use to feel less overwhelmed about quarantining and social distancing. While we may have been doing it subconsciously, many of us adopted some of the tips that were mentioned in the article, whether it’s starting a new hobby or calling your friends over Discord to play games every Wednesday night. Now that school started again, at least students gets to go back to a more productive routine which can help a lot when you have too much time on your hands and do not know how to spend it anymore.

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    Ammar Hussein

    August 31, 2020

    Quarantining has definitely been a a struggle for many individuals around the world. The many free hours in a day has led to many people getting stressed or feeling uneasy during the lock down period. At the start of the pandemic, everyone has been following the number of cases in their country/province, this got overwhelming really quickly and added to the already high stress levels even further. I realized how people started shifting their interests as they spent more weeks in quarantine. I like the bit where you mentioned how exercising, especially outside, was really helpful. I had a first-hand experience with that in the form of cycling, and honestly, it was a game changer. It was a way to take my mind off the idea that we were in a pandemic. Living with other people was surprisingly a challenge too. Keeping a personal space gives the the person a breather from other people. Alone time is a very precious thing that is commonly overlooked. The most important thing, was keeping a positive attitude.

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    Giuseppe Gualtieri

    August 31, 2020

    I thought Olavo De Macedo Collins was able to do a wonderful job in crystallizing all aspects in trying to make this quarantine productive and efficient, instead of just simply depressing. There is no doubt that as a graduate of 2020, my peers and I faced a lot of challenges and unfortunately missed opportunities that without question took a toll on our mental state. Personally, I lost my Europe trip, the end of my hockey season, my prom, etc. . However, as students of my age came face to face with similar problems, we were also given the same unique chance to enter College as a better person compared to when we left High School in March. Those five and a half months should’ve been used as a period of self improvement whether it be: physically, mentally, emotionally, in a certain field of sport or hobby, or better yet, all of the above. And that’s exactly what the article focused on: ways to maintain an attitude where instead of being sad and having pity for yourself, realizing that there is nothing stopping us to continue moving forward besides ourselves.

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    Pol

    August 31, 2020

    I think it’s very interesting to point out the fact that, since no one has any control over the pandemic as a whole, we are not currently able to fix the specific issues that lead us to getting stressed out and weigh down on us, putting our mental health in danger. This results in most important tips for stress coping during COVID-19 being focused on the parts of our lives that we are still capable of altering to some extent, not only switching our attention to something more productive to think about but also distracting us from the global problems we are unable to fix at the current state. I found this article useful for giving practical tips and tricks that people can use when they find the confinement mentally difficult to deal with.

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    Murielle Chaghouri

    August 31, 2020

    This pandemic has definitely impacted our lives, whether it is mentally or physically. As a matter of fact, as mentioned in the text Mental Health In The Time Of Covid that was written by Olavo De Macedo Collins, being quarantined for so long has really affected most of our routines. Therefore, I strongly agree with most of the points that were covered. Just going outside taking a walk to get some fresh air or even a call with your friends and family will most definitely make you feel better and less lonely. You can always take a risk by trying to do new things, who knows? Maybe you will find a new hobby !

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    hailey fletcher

    August 31, 2020

    “Mental Health in the Time of Covid-19” by Olavo De Macedo Collins captures almost every day-to-day battle we were forced to face during our era’s first pandemic. The author made this piece very relatable thanks to the large use of inclusive language. He shed light on a period that feels as though it is dark and never ending.
    By reminding us how we can take advantage of the positive consequences of the pandemic, he lifts a tiny weight off of all of our heavy shoulders.
    Many of us have lost so much to these dreadful last five months like school trips and prom, to family members and friends.
    Although I have not been living my ideal life for the last half year, I recognize how lucky I am for the things I did and do have throughout one of the scariest times any of us will ever face.
    I sympathize with those that have been and are stuck in unsafe homes, with those that depended on school for a proper meal, and with those that lost their income and drown deeper day after day.
    In conclusion, this article reminded me to look at the world as a glass half full.

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    hava rose

    August 31, 2020

    One thing that really stood out to me in Olavo De Macedo Collins’s article was the mention of how excessive use of social media worsens depressive and anxious symptoms instead of alleviating them. Text messages, while pleasant to exchange, cannot possibly replace face-to-face interactions and provide the same positive results. It touches on how a lot of us have been relying on text messages and our posts’ comments for social interaction during the enforced quarantine. This section of the article reminds us of the importance of maintaining bonds and relationships with other people, even while we are obligated to remain physically distant with one another. It is easy to forget that group chats do not actually equate social contact and that we should remember to take breaks offline to enjoy our surrounding bubble of people.

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    Yimaj

    August 31, 2020

    I was impressed to find that this piece touched on the importance of keeping a positive mindset about quarantine, as it seems to be a disregarded aspect of maintaining oneself in quarantine. Very frequently I have seen that people emphasize the importance of keeping habits such as the six tips mentioned in the article, among others, but overall, even despite maintaining habits and keeping oneself busy, the natural concern and distress that could come out of our extraordinary situation could very well take a toll on the mind. In focusing on the good that can come out of the lockdown rather than the losses and dangers that came from it, we become capable of embracing the unforeseen benefit that quarantine actually ended up bringing to us and we can get satisfied. With that in mind, I feel that the writer does a great job in stressing the underlying thesis of the importance of an optimistic outlook.

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    Megalodon

    August 31, 2020

    In my opinion, this article offers many insightful ideas that could help not only myself, but everyone around me to cheer up and have a healthier state of mind during this pandemic. I would first like to address one element of the article’s structure that I felt was extremely well done and added on to the purpose of the piece. Olavo De Macedo Collins begins with some thoughts on an involuntary confinement and how it impacted us negatively. However, after leading the reader through a number of methods that could make us bear the quarantine easier, he masterfully concludes the text by saying that our confinement is also voluntary and that it serves the community, giving us one more reason to not feel so horrible. Moreover, I do think that the advice given in the article is genuinely useful. While reading, I realized that I was already doing some of the mentioned techniques, and that they did make the quarantine burden feel much lighter.

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    Dylan louie

    September 1, 2020

    I never realized that one’s mental health could be impacted so negatively through social isolation and economic shutdowns. As I see it, mental health should be taken more seriously instead of the constant focus on increased productivity and how to spend excessive free time. Not to mention, the fact that most people around the world went through this sudden change and is just expected to cope with it by themselves. Having a sudden change in lifestyle and staring at computer screen for the most of the day is not much compared to the fear of death and losing loved ones. Subsequently, I feel like the mental health of individuals should be taken more seriously especially during this time of change and uncertainty.

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    Marie-Sophie Chapelle

    September 1, 2020

    Before this pandemic, I could have never imagined that staying home would change from being a liberation from school to, quite frankly, a living nightmare. This quarantine has taught me many things, including the fact that I detest staying inside, as much as I like saying I am an introvert. Having to live and study in the same place, while I consider myself lucky that I can afford it, can really mess with someone’s psychological state. This article contains advice that I wish I could’ve have had access to at the beginning of this pandemic. I am sure that these little tricks would have made a difference for countless people and could’ve helped them get through these rough times with at least a smile on their faces.

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    Alice

    September 1, 2020

    Olavo de Macedo Collins summarizes the negative impacts the pandemic and social isolation had or has on many of us, if not all of us, when it comes to our mental health. The author also shares many helpful points to make every day of quarantine a bit easier. Personally, I had already heard of most of the tips before reading this article, as I found the couple of months in quarantine pretty difficult and searched for advice myself. However, I wish I would’ve found this text instead as it resumes everything in a simple yet effective manner. Many of my friends also struggled during quarantine and this text could’ve helped them too. Finally, the pandemic reminds us how much socializing is important to our mental health and well-being, and we shouldn’t take our freedom for granted. Many of us have missed out on important events like prom or have even lost loved ones to Covid-19. It’s important to stay strong and help each other in solidarity during these times, and to take a moment every day to practice some form of self-care.

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    Grace

    September 1, 2020

    Throughout the article Mental Health in the time of Covid-19, author Olavo de Macedo Collins describes the current situation that humans must face in lockdown, during the Coronavirus pandemic. Some of these situations include adapting a new lifestyle, meeting less with our peers, and spending more time on our own. He then follows up by suggesting that speaking to a close friend or family member, in order “to feel less alone, (and) more connected”, is a good way to handle our stress. This suggestion is something that may be extremely important to some who are facing severe stress and anxiety during lockdown, as it is a good way to get things off of our chest, and feel a large sense of relief. No matter whom you speak to about your stress during the Covid-19 outbreak, it will benefit both the listener and the speaker, since both of these people will understand the struggle of living through a pandemic.
    I feel that Olavo de Macedo Collins did an exceptional job at summarizing the points made by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, from their article “COVID-19 Lockdown Guide: How to Manage Anxiety and Isolation During Quarantine.” The author managed to keep the summary of each point brief, yet extremely informative for readers. Since the very start of lockdown when the pandemic began, tension and stress for nearly everyone has been high. Students not knowing how their school years will come to an end, teachers not knowing how they will be able to continue teaching, and employers who are unaware whether their businesses will remain open.  Throughout all this pressure, we must keep in mind the points that the author has made, such as to keep a daily routine, avoid long hours on social media, and keep our environment organized, in order to get through quarantine in the healthiest and happiest way possible.

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    sabrinafilion

    September 1, 2020

    I personally think that this article written by Olavo de Macedo Collins summarizes how a lot of people have been feeling during this exceptional period. Not only has the author identified different factors that are affecting everyone’s mental health recently, but also proposed many ways for us to make them less apparent and to feel better. Even though our stress may be caused by different impacts of the pandemic, we are all in the same situation and that thought is reassuring. This text makes us feel like there are some solutions to feel better mentally and that worrying about something totally out of our control can be detrimental mentally. This is a comforting read that reminds us to take care of ourselves during these trying times.

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    Ben Gameroff

    September 1, 2020

    Written by Olavo De Macedo Collins, the article “Mental Health in the Time of Covid -19, was a very interesting read. Not only was it fascinating to read about Covid - 19’s effects on ones mental health, but I also found their advice to be very helpful on a personal level. Being someone that craves social interaction, this pandemic has affected my life and metal health a lot. However, with these useful tips at hand, I feel like my quarantine could have been a lot easier and less stressful. More specifically, one suggestion they gave really struck me because I realized how valuable this information is to myself. It was the idea that instead of sitting around and sulking, we should try to better ourselves with this extra time on our hands. Whether it be getting into a new passion, working out or learning how to cook, time is not infinite, meaning we should use it wisely and carefully. Thus, achieving these goals will in turn help our days feel more fulfilling, less boring and like we didn’t just waste 8 months of our lives doing nothing.

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    chrisanthyk

    September 1, 2020

    In the piece Mental Health In the Time of Covid, by Olavo De Macedo Collins, portrays the challenges that the whole world has been facing during this pandemic. Having to live through this rough period of time which is making history, has impacted not only the elderly but also the young generation, in which they face unforeseen challenges. Covid 19 has changed the lives of students by implementing school online. This has a huge impact on the students well being and mental health, as it is extremely difficult to stay focused and be motivated to accomplish their work. As mentioned in this article, due to self distancing and lack of interaction with others, having a routine can improve your mental health. For instance, students are alone at home, online all day, and therefore should include in their routine a time of the day where they can interact with a friend, go for a walk, etc.

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    Hyojeong

    September 1, 2020

    The author mentions mental health that has not been properly listened to in a situation where everyone is calling for social distance for our physical health. It provides a precise explanation of mental health and also shows how to solve this problem. I think the last part of this work touched me the most. Because he talk about a helpful quarantine mindset and says that all emphasize the importance, not just for others but for our own mental health, of thinking about not just “me” but also “we”. All of people should need that mind and we can deal with this situation. Then our mental health will more better.

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    Momo-amrn

    September 2, 2020

    this article is vthis article is very interesting to read and may be helpful for people, it can make them avoid some serious mental problems.it explains life challenges we lived during confinement time and how to live properly in the same environment for an unknown duration which was pretty much stressing. the author explained and gave tips about how to manage Anxiety and depression and also how to avoid them.ery interesting to read and may be helpful for people, it can make them avoid some serious mental problems.it explains life challenges we lived during confinement time and how to live properly in the same environment for an unknown duration which was pretty much stressing. the author explained and gave tips about how to manage Anxiety and depression and also how to avoid them.

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    Diana Mocanu

    September 2, 2020

    The article “MENTAL HEALTH IN THE TIME OF COVID-19” by Olavo de Macedo Collins explains to readers that the year 2020 has started unexpectedly with a pandemic that took over the world. It has caused numerous problems and has affected millions of people.

    I strongly believe that the whole idea of a virus circulating everywhere, being extremely contagious, dangerous, and even deadly has caused depression, anxiety, and stress for the vast majority of the population. Although we have little control over this global issue, we need to remember that working together, and being strong will help us overcome it.

    Although there are many issues that are present in our lives, having a positive mindset of things can be a solution. Trying to follow the tips and methods that the author is offering us, makes these difficult times easier. In fact, little things that we do to change our negative mindset could have a significant impact. We need to focus on improving ourselves and take advantage of the time we have at our disposal. Being organised and have a sense of purpose is key to avoid stress. Why not get better at cooking and trying new recipes? How about learning a new language?

    The author highlighted relevant information that can help people who are fighting together through tough times. We have to get up on our feet and face all the challenges and struggles that are thrown at us. We need to keep a positive mindset and stay strong!
    It is important to remember that we need to be appreciative and thankful for what we have because it could be easily lost if the virus takes over us.

     

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    Aurélie Sylvestre

    September 2, 2020

    The article ‘’ Mental health in the time of COVID-19 ‘’, written by Olavo De Macedo Collins is very interesting and super accurate.

    It explains a lot of what people are going through this quarantine. It put emphasis on people’s feelings and the way to help them in this dark period. This virus caused some people to have a lot of trouble managing emotions and the way they feel, such as stress, anxiety, incomprehension, which can lead to depression. The writer summarized well how most of the population have been feeling for the past few months. Because even if you are a hundred percent mentally healthy, staying at home, and not seeing friends or family will affect your state of mind. In this article there is also some pretty good tricks to stay mentally stable, like accomplishing minimum one thing a day and taking care of yourself by doing sport, reading, or talking to friends via your phone.

    The writer highlighted the importance of taking care of yourself and to take time for you, he also gave tips to do all that.

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    Beatrice Millie Rocheleau

    September 2, 2020

    This easy-to-read article enumerated various techniques to help those for who quarantine might have an impact on mental health. I love how one example made reference to gym class (SMART goal technique), and how we could employ this method for any goal. This made me think out-of-the-box, by realizing that what we learn in CEGEP could also help us in our normal lives. I also couldn’t help but notice how in one of the paragraphs, the author mentioned not to be too overwhelming to others with coronavirus news updates. I like that thought of inclusion for others’ well-being, because after all, we really are ALL in this together. The advices listed in the article might seem evident, but in my case, for instance, i fail to follow most of them. This reading was just what I needed to give me a push of motivation and hope for this new semester!

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    Jilliane

    September 2, 2020

    “Mental Health in The Time of COVID-19” by Olavo de Macedo Collins really covered the mental state that many people had during the unusual time of Quarantine, from figuring out what is causing each and one of us stress to learning how to adapt to this new way of living life. In Collins article, he named around 7 tips that would help during quarantine and personally only 3 of them worked for me during this time, such as not concentrating on the new, trying to keep my environment organized and doing something productive such as completing puzzles and taking walks around my neighborhood. The part of the article that stuck the most for me is when he wrote “And one last note about a helpful quarantine mindset: the authors of the articles above all emphasize the importance, not just for others but for our own mental health, of thinking about not just “me” but also “we.”” This part is really important until this day because in times like this we can’t only be thinking about ourselves, even though it was hard to be quarantined it was worth it because we didn’t put ourselves at risk of this virus and we didn’t put the people we care about in danger either, which is why we should still continue taking precautions and keep wearing mask and sanitizing our hands.

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    Hana

    September 3, 2020

    A global event as big and important as a pandemic may affect each person and society differently than another. Some countries were able to have a great handle on the COVID-19 virus, while others started acting a little bit too late. When our health and safety is at risk, it is normal for us to feel stressed and fearful, especially when the problem is much bigger than us and often in the hands of much more powerful people to whom we have very little to no access. I believe that one of the scariest parts of the pandemic was the many different media coverages. As stated in this article, many of us spent hours on our phones going through one news outlet to the next, looking for information that may relax us and make us feel better. However, we may quickly come to realize that the more we obsess over controlling it, the scarier it becomes. I think that this article provided great ideas to how we could take care of our mental health during these times and I think it is something that must be discussed much more often as our lives have greatly been affected by this virus and we must learn how to embrace it and move forward.

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    sungsilpark

    September 3, 2020

    After reading this article, I realized once again that this pandemic doesn’t make a problem just in our health, but also our mental. The article of “Mental Health in The Time of Covid-19” gives a lot of advices that can make people less suffering from the loneliness and help to get through this situation. Isolated at our space doesn’t make us just boring, but we need to communicate, to contact in person and to move for our healthy mind. All those advices can also bring a new experience and we can find other passions that we had never known before. The technology is also present for our communication with people around us. We are lucky to access all this information these days in the security.

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