Active & Passive: Stay engaged, take care during distancing

June 2, 2020

From yoga to streaming online concerts, there are many ways to reduce levels of stress during quarantine. (Anathea Carrigan)

In a time of uncertainty and separation, counselors and teachers are encouraging students at U-High to spend their free time practicing a variety of different types of self-care.

Physical activities can improve mental health


Anathea Carrigan

Taking time to remove yourself from electronics and work out is an effective way to improve mental health, says school counselor Teddy Stripling.

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, switch. The monotonized voices drone through small iPhone speakers. It’s quickly followed by the sound of rustling fabric as the girls basketball team members switch their yoga poses in sync over FaceTime. Yoga is just one of the many self-care activities students at Lab are partaking in during the stay-at-home order to maintain or improve their mental health.

One of the most popular and well-known self-care activities at Lab is yoga or meditation due to the heavy focus on these topics through the Stress Redux classes offered by the P.E. department every year.

Megan Janda, a P.E. teacher who has focused on developing the Stress Redux curriculum, emphasizes the importance of a “reset” in improving your mental health. She said that focusing on breathing is the best thing someone can do to refocus.

“A simple deep breath can be effective in getting your mind and body into control,” Ms. Janda said.

Many types of yoga and meditation are centered around the “breath reset” that
Ms. Janda refers to. She suggests that students experiment with yoga and meditation as a form of self-care, as it is highly customizable to specific situations.

“Yoga is an activity that we use for many different things in life,” Ms. Janda said, “one person may use yoga to stretch, while another may use it for exercise, and someone else may use it to calm themselves down.”

Ms. Janda also recommends yoga as a form of self-care because of its accessibility.

“It’s just your body moving,” she said. “Anybody can do yoga if they want to.”

However, Ms. Janda says in order for yoga to be effective, you have to know what you want to get out of it.

Another physical activity that students can partake in is working out. School counselor Teddy Stripling, said one of the most overlooked methods of self-care is exercise.

“Little things like push-ups and air squats in your room or living room and getting away from the computer for even a minute can be useful in improving mental health,” Mr Stripling said.

He also recommends free apps such as Down Dog or Fitness Blender for students looking for more guidance in their everyday workouts.

Another activity that both Ms. Janda and Mr. Stripling say is helpful in reducing stress is cleaning and organizing your workspace.

“Just seeing a pile of papers in the corner of your mind has the potential to distract you from your work or class,” Mr. Stripling said.

Just seeing a pile of papers in the corner of your mind has the potential to distract you from your work or class.”

— Teddy Stripling

 Ms Janda added that having a clean workspace helps you focus on what you are doing in the moment.

One of the most popular organization methods currently is the Marie Kondo method. People around the globe are following the popular Japanese organizer’s simple advice. She says that if something you have does not spark joy in your life, get rid of it.

Kondo also has tutorials and shows on YouTube and Netflix for students looking to store what they have in a neat and organized fashion.

Both Ms. Janda and Mr. Stripling say that organizing is especially important during this time of self-confinement to home. Ms. Janda also recommends getting outside every once in a while to break the constant routine of sitting in one spot all day looking at your computer.

One last activity students can participate in is establishing a skincare routine. Many see skincare as a waste of money and time, but the routine nature of skincare can be meditative. A skincare routine is usually just a person and their mirror. This introspective focus is an easy primary step into the world of self care, according to an article in HuffPost.

“In order to determine what method of self-care works best for you, you have to be willing to test the waters,” Ms. Janda said.

This stay-at-home order has forced people to go back to their roots in thinking about the importance of self care.

Ms. Janda said, “People are becoming more aware of what affects their mood and are beginning to explore what they can do to improve it.”


Online concerts serve as passive way to interact


Screen capture from YouTube

Dua Lipa performed live for James Corden's "HomeFest" music festival on March 30.

Pop artist Charli XCX released her latest album on May 15, and along with it came a release party. Artists like Dylan Brady and A. G. Cook attended and delivered high-energy performances to celebrate the album’s release. The event emotionally impacted a lot of fans due to the sense of triumph at the party and the passionate live sets from a diverse range of artists. However, this release party happened entirely on Zoom.   

A new way to connect with friends while staying socially distanced has emerged, in the form of online concerts. Online concerts allow students to keep themselves from getting bored and connect with friends in a unique way, and they also let people individually choose how engaged they want to be. 

While a lot of people’s first reaction to online concerts may be to instantly dismiss them, ninth grader Ariadne Merchant, a fan of K-pop groups such as BTS, sees them in a different light, even if she may prefer in-person concerts. She was glad that online concerts in a foreign language were more enjoyable to her as someone who didn’t speak that language. However, she still agreed that an artist-to-fan connection may be missing, and the concerts had less energy from emotional fans.

“Of course in an American tour they speak English, but they won’t say as much. The leader won’t say as much even if he’s fluent. They were speaking in Korean, but they had English subtitles, so I could understand what they spoke fluently,” she noted. “If I went to a concert in Korea, where they spoke Korean, I would have no idea what they’re saying, so that is a plus.”

Zara Baig, also a ninth grader, has been to two online concerts, and her experience has been very positive. She enjoys the nostalgic feeling of these concerts and the fact that some of her favorite artists performed. However, she does not at all enjoy them as much as in-person concerts.

But I am thankful that they put these together even though they can’t compare to actual concerts. They gave me something to look forward to at the end of my day and made me motivated.”

— Zara Baig

“In real life the artist is right in front of you, and you are surrounded by a contagious energy of people who enjoy the artist just as much as you do,” Zara said. “I felt less engaged. I could pause the live streams whenever I wanted. But I am thankful that they put these together even though they can’t compare to actual concerts. They gave me something to look forward to at the end of my day and made me motivated.”

For students who feel online concerts do not appeal to them, there are several other ways to meaningfully engage with music during lockdown. Online music forums allow listeners to connect with people across the globe while still bonding over music. It isn’t even necessary to go farther than a social media site like Instagram or Twitter, which both have thriving music communities. There are also many blogs and online publications that give readers excellent and frequently lesser-known music recommendations.  

For those interested in online concerts, Billboard’s website frequently updates their database of every upcoming online concert, and NPR has a similar list.

Quiz determines optimal self-care activity

Take this quiz to find out what activity you would most benefit from during social distancing.

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