Updated: May 1, 2020
COVID-19 is creating a new norm for everyone. From cutting semesters short and shutting down schools to forcing us to embrace social distancing and working from home, the virus has left a significant impact on all of our lives.
Many students (seniors in particular) are feeling devastated that their final semester will end this way. The Class of 2020 won’t be spending time with friends at prom or walking at graduation. With final exams, grades, and summer programs on the line, juniors and sophomores too are feeling panicked about the future.
Though this outbreak has been stressful and anxiety-inducing for all of us, we must also recognize that those populations that are most vulnerable—older citizens, people with immunocompromising and chronic diseases, young children—have been hit especially hard by this global pandemic.
Not only are students having to adapt to new realities, but many low-income and marginalized communities have been facing harsh actualities. People from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are faced with limited resources and little access to essential goods and services. These people do not have much in terms of disposable income. They can’t afford a flexible work schedule. They don’t always have the resources to work from home.
Though having to receive our diplomas online and our prom dresses not being put to use may seem like the end of the world, we have to recognize that for many people, this outbreak puts much more at stake. So, what can we do to protect those who are most vulnerable—whose safety, income security, and lives may be put at risk as a result of this pandemic?
Two words: social distancing. It is our responsibility to protect not only ourselves, but our communities as a whole. We must support those helping with the response of COVID-19, such as doctors, health care providers and first responders. We must take care of ourselves, our family, and our friends by limiting interaction and self-quarantining. When you practice social distancing, you are playing a vital role in increasing the survival of those most impacted by this virus.
During these next few weeks, take time for yourself. During your daily hustle, it is important to take a few moments to reflect on your mental health, relax, release the stress of the day, and (most importantly) wash your hands! Escape the constant, draining news-cycle. Protect your body and spirit. Take a deep breath. Check in with your friends and family and voice your thoughts—your feelings are valid! From embroidery to meditating to painting, there are plenty of things that you can do to center and calm yourself.
Although we are all social beings, changing our behaviors and attitudes during this time of crisis is crucial. It may feel like life has stopped, but realize that you are not alone and that your friends, family, and community members are relying on your support. Focusing on preparedness, staying calm, checking on the wellbeing of others, and continuing self-care will help everyone get through this difficult time. We’re all in this together.