Tag Archives: mental health

USC Student Voices on Staying Active

Editor’s Note:

For many people, quarantine has made it difficult to establish a regular routine that resembles a normal lifestyle. This can lead many of us, myself included, to feel overwhelmed by work. Finding time to spend in nature is of the utmost importance, but depending on where you live, it can be difficult to incorporate time outdoors into your everyday schedule. Two ALI Conversation Partners, Alyssa Delarosa and Elizabeth Goodman, reflect on ways to get outside during quarantine and list places to visit in Los Angeles that provide some peace and respite from Zoom and online classes.

-Natalie Grace Sipula, Editor

[7 minute read]

THE IMPORTANCE OF OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES DURING QUARANTINE

By Alyssa Delarosa

During this time of quarantine where zoom calls, Netflix binges, and a non-existent sleep schedule threaten to take over our lives, there are many wonderful resources and guides on activities to keep us busy on the internet. Some of these resources recommend completing at-home workouts, recipes, meditation, and other hobbies that are beneficial for your mental health.  Out of all these wonderful resources and guides, I want to specifically highlight sources that encourage outdoor activities, as I believe that outdoor activities are vital to our mental health, physical health, and general well-being.

Caterpillar right outside my front door as I enjoy some reading time outside

While there are plenty of activities to do indoors that can prove very effective for our mental and physical health, we are doing these activities in the exact same environment each time. At the start of quarantine this was not necessarily a bad thing, but in the long-run this practice can prove somewhat damaging for our mental health. We are being constantly exposed to the same environment for hours and days on end, which can have a “prison-like” effect on our minds and make us feel trapped and gradually begin to lose interest in finding meaning and enjoyment in our lives. This is why I do not simply recommend outdoor activities, I strongly encourage them as a necessity. 

The complete and total change of scenery that outdoor activities provide can be blissful beyond imagination. I currently reside in Ventura, California (a rural beach town about an hour North of the USC campus) and I am always sure to allot some time to make the ten minute drive to the beach, where I can spend the whole day surfing, walking, or merely observing the beauty around me. I often find myself standing in complete awe with my feet in the sand, the wind caressing my cheek, the sound of the waves swelling and breaking, and the smell of the salt in the air. The restlessness I may feel indoors does not matter as long as I escape the clutches of my house and run into the embrace of nature.

San Buenaventura State Beach 

When you’re done reading this, I want you to go to your calendar or planner, digital or physical, and start marking the time(s) within your schedule that you are able to engage in any outdoor activities. It does not matter your location; the main objective here is to simply get outside! If you live in the city, this could look like simply taking a walk in the streets nearby your house or apartment. You also do not necessarily need to leave your home or dorm area, as you can relax with a good book in hand on your porch, patio, balcony, or any other accessible outdoor area.

The USC campus itself is a beautiful place to take walks outdoors, with numerous parks located on campus such as Alumni Park and the EF Hutton Park. If you do not live near or on USC campus and do not have access to any parks or trails, keep in mind that the objective is to simply produce a short change in your environment so when you leave your everyday desk and living space, you can re-enter more recharged and refreshed than you were when you left.

View of Ventura Harbor

Just because we’re in quarantine does not mean that life has to lose color, meaning, and enjoyment. Exchanging our daily home scenery for the beauty outside can help encourage all of us to live happier lives. One day our lives will resume but in the meanwhile, let’s appreciate the time we have now and continue to live and thrive in the nature surrounding us.

FOUR OF THE BEST PANORAMIC VIEWS OF LOS ANGELES

By Elizabeth Goodman

From the skylines of Downtown and Century City, to the Santa Monica Mountains, to the sparkling Pacific Ocean, the views from atop the city of Los Angeles are hard to beat. When city life, crowds, and traffic get you down, take some time to rejuvenate by visiting some of LA’s most breathtaking panoramic views without a long hike. Here are some of my favorite scenic views from various lookouts in LA, all of which are accessible to students and most of which are free (although you might have to pay for parking if you drive). All of these outdoor spots also provide a great escape for anyone seeking some time outdoors during quarantine! Go on your own or with a friend for a socially distanced hike to a great view.

“Top of the World” – Pacific Palisades

Photo by Mat Weller on Unsplash

 This lookout in Pacific Palisades has rightly earned its name with views that stretch from Downtown Los Angeles to the left, to Catalina Island on the right. It is unique to be able to see where the sand meets the sea while enjoying the immediate surrounding greenery and mountains. An easy less-than-five-minute walk after parking will lead you to this stunning view, and there are many other hiking trails to explore in this area if you want to spend more time here.

Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel– Santa Monica

Photo by Sinjin Thomas on Unsplash

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant at the top floor of the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica offers an unparalleled dining experience. The rooftop on the 18th floor boasts a panoramic ocean view from every table in the restaurant. Between the gourmet cuisine and superb view, this is an exclusive experience you won’t want to miss out on. Note that this restaurant is currently closed due to recent quarantine mandates, but when restaurants begin reopening, be sure to include this one on your bucket list!

Continue reading USC Student Voices on Staying Active

Zooming By: Taking Care of Your Health in a Virtual World

By Kaitlin Foo

[4 minute read]

Editor’s note:

If you are looking for things to keep you occupied during quarantine, look no further than this article! If you have your own perspective on how you cope with quarantine or any other topic you feel strongly about, you too can share these thoughts on our blog. We are opening the ALI Life and Times to any USC student who is interested in contributing. If you would like to submit a blog article for potential publication, please email hacco@usc.edu -Natalie Grace Sipula, Editor

Right now, many of us are working and attending school virtually. During this time, the fatigue of being stationary all day can have a negative effect on both our bodies and our mental health. I’m here to show you how to switch up your routine, try something new, or even get back into a hobby you may have quit a long time ago!

Take a break from your screen
Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

When we are on our laptops or phones for long hours at a time, our eyes make micro-movements, which put more strain on our eyes than necessary. To combat this, I do an eye exercise to “stretch” my eyeball. Make sure that your face is still; it is just your eyes that are moving! First, look up, look down, then left and right for 2 seconds each. Then I like to draw a circle with my eyes in a clockwise direction, then again counterclockwise. 

When I do this exercise, I find that my eyes feel less strained, and I can quickly jump back into my work. This is a simple, fast, and effective way to tend to your eye health.

Pick up a new hobby (or revisit an old one)
Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

I know, I know. A hobby? That’s soooo first-two-months-of-quarantine! But hear me out: I, like many others, fell into the trap of wanting to do everything I’d never had the chance to do when we were just starting to quarantine. However, this ended up backfiring and I ended up half-learning a bunch of hobbies (sewing, sign language, baking). 

This time, I want you to commit to just one doable hobby that you will see to fruition. This could be an entirely new hobby, like learning how to make lattes at home, or an old hobby (I recently picked up piano again because I realized I had never gotten to the level of proficiency I’d wanted as a child).

The important part of fully completing a hobby is to choose something that is feasible and then set a goal. You want to learn how to make lattes at home? That’s doable. Now set a goal: you might want to learn specifically how to make a matcha latte and a caramel latte. This ensures that you have a tangible objective to fulfill and having that end goal will propel you to complete this task. 

Start Journaling
Photo by Mathilde LMD on Unsplash

It’s easy to push your mental health on the backburner while trying to keep yourself from burning out. During this pandemic, I found myself dragging up old memories, inspecting them closely and over-analyzing them. With no outlet, these new revelations and analyses constantly bounced around in my brain. 

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Panic in Times of Crisis: What is it and How can we stop it?

Richard Petrosyan

[4 minute read]

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

Note: This article is the fruit of my analysis and my analysis only. By no means do I wish to come off as an authority on these matters, but rather as a blog writer attempting to spark debate on relevant life experiences.

How often in the last few months did you see people panicking, washing their hands frantically, cleaning surfaces of things that don’t even belong to them, yelling that the end of the world is near, or preparing as though we were under nuclear attack? To some of us, these are precautions. To others, these are scripts for a comedic movie. Panic has posed itself as one of the major psychological refuges of Americans (and quite a few people in other countries, as well) in the face of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Here, I will seek to understand what exactly panic is and how we can alleviate this inherently adverse aspect of human psychology.

I define panic as the psychological and physical state of a living being that is based on the fear of an external entity or occurrence as a perceived threat to your interests, or in more extreme cases, to your own life. Accordingly, I define panic as the counter-reaction to lack of stability: we humans prefer planning and expecting the future; we like to know what lies ahead and take steps to succeed in our endeavors accordingly. Having this life stability reassures us. In some cases, we prefer things not to change whatsoever: this is what I call “love for the status quo.” However, as the saying goes, nothing in the universe is eternal except change. This means that, at any point in space and time, there is a nearly 100% certainty that some unforeseen element will disturb the established order of things. When people see that image of stability evaporate, their safety net erodes, and fear secures its nest in their minds. We begin taking precautions, avoid doing anything risky, close doors literally and figuratively, think about dangers and potential solutions frantically, sweat all the time, etc. I would argue this to be a tendency to protect oneself as an individual.

Photo by Arturo Rey on Unsplash

Where do these tendencies come from? I’d simply say: evolution. Since the dawn of time, when we perceived a threat to our survival (or that of our loved ones), we adapted by entering into a state of excitement and anxiety in order to acknowledge and combat the danger. However, the ways we protect ourselves have evolved over time, simultaneously with the nature of the threats. Prehistoric men didn’t fear that they’d get a bad grade and wouldn’t get into a good grad school just like we don’t fear now that we will be eaten by animals or other humans.

I will now apply this human instinct to the coronavirus pandemic. In the last few months, people have feared touching each other or approaching each other too closely. On national scales, some of them have even staunchly advocated for stay-at-home orders, border closing, furloughs from work, online classes, and so on. Governments have issued guidelines that push people away from each other (more famously referred to as social distancing guidelines) to avoid the threat of contamination by the virus. It appears that, in the fight or flight response associated with panic, most humans are choosing “flight.” To be fair, it’s a bit difficult to physically fight a microorganism. However, according to our more civilized way of fighting, the “fight” part against the microbe was taken up by scientists attempting to find cures as well as vaccines against the virus.

There is much ado -is it about nothing? That’s a matter of opinion. But how did panic even occur in the first place? The first answer that comes to my mind is media coverage. Journalism is a very powerful tool, in that news outlets are often used by people as a connection to the world at large. So, whatever people read, they believe. And the media certainly spreads alarming information. How much of it is fake news? I won’t delve into that question, but I’d keep in mind that this is a question worth asking. On the positive end, the spread of panic alarmed people to protect vulnerable populations. On the negative end, it shut down the world’s most powerful economies and altered our lifestyles significantly, and some may argue unnecessarily.

https://unsplash.com/photos/IEeqknvHRKQ
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