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As a high school student removed from the constant interaction that defines the school day, I've come up with a few simple ideas that have kept me sane so far

Over the last few weeks, with the escalation of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control have issued advice to the public to reduce social interaction, and stay at home in order to fight the spread of the virus. With numbers on the west coast rising, California's shelter-in-place order, and Oregon following closely behind its peers, it seems as if we're going to be in this for at least another month or two.

As a local community, and as a part of the greater global community as well, we have a responsibility to take care of our own health, as well as the health of others — and that means staying home.COURTESY PHOTO: EVAN MELENDEZ - EVAN MELENDEZ

As we wait for the world to get back on track, and our social lives to reignite, it's important to keep busy over the next few weeks. As a high school student removed from the constant interaction that defines the school day, I've come up with a few simple ideas that have kept me sane so far, and I hope that they may help you as well.

1. Read. For the students out there, required reading has weighed us down and soiled our love for independent choice reading, myself included. I've had books set off to the side for over a year now, hoping to read but either time or motivation was lacking — sapped by schoolwork. Now, with the sudden lapse of activity, I've found the time to start up a book I've been holding on to, and I'm so glad to have the option to read for enjoyment.

2. Music. Whether listening to music or playing an instrument, music proves to be a potent way to escape the stresses of reality. In my experience, messing around with a piano or guitar leads to passing time quickly, but it always feels well spent — the same goes for listening to music. This is a wonderful time to discover and support new artists, with bands unable to perform with large audiences, and to find some new enticing music.

3. Walk. Over the last week, I've spent more time outside than I have for months, and I can say it's a large factor towards why I feel mentally prepared for the coming weeks. Going on walks or exercising outside is a wonderful method of centering yourself and finding a perspective on the issues affecting you personally, while at the same time taking a breather and separating yourself from the routine familiarity of life. Walk somewhere new, with all the fresh air and ventilation the world has to offer.

4. Family. While stuck at home, many of us are lucky enough to have others quarantined with us. With school or work keeping us busy, we didn't normally have time to spend with our loved ones. Now, we can take advantage of the time we have in our own homes and reconnect with our siblings, parents/guardians, cats, dogs or hamsters.

5. Streaming. I know that with the barrage of work and activities, I've lost track of the comedies and dramas that I love dearly. There are so many works of art in film and television that touch the viewer in unimaginable ways. Catching up on Oscar-nominated movies and new television series are just some of the ways I've found to keep in touch with stories and arts.

We're all in this together, and I believe if we take this newly allotted time for productivity and self care, this can be a learning experience. In fact, we'll come back from social distancing with a new perspective on our lives outside of work, bringing us even closer together than we were before.


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