For our last episode, we convened a round table of Diamondback staff to talk about mental health during the pandemic and the ways they’ve been coping. Clara Longo de Freitas, The Diamondback’s assistant special projects editor, led the conversation.
If you or anyone you know is currently struggling with mental health, the university counseling center offers students free individual, group and couples counseling sessions, as well as drop-in hours and referral services to other resources nearby. Visit counseling.umd.edu for more resources.
As mentioned in the episode: “You are not the person you were before the pandemic” and Minor Feelings.
Thanks for listening to Offbeat. And tune in on the last Friday in April for a brand new episode about all things witchy and mystic.
You can also find us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. A full transcript of this episode is below.
Offbeat Extra: Mental Health During the Pandemic
Allison Mollenkamp: Welcome to a special bonus episode of Offbeat. I’m your host, Allison Mollenkamp. For our last episode, we convened a round table of Diamondback staff to talk about mental health during the pandemic and the ways they’ve been coping. Diamondback assistant special projects editor Clara Longo de Freitas led the conversation. As promised, here is a longer version of that discussion.
Because of the pandemic, we weren’t able to talk in person, so please bear with our sound quality from Zoom. Over the course of the episode, we do mention a couple books and articles, and those are linked in the show notes.
Before we start, please note: None of us are licensed health care professionals. If you or anyone you know is currently struggling with mental health, the university Counseling Center offers students free individual, group and couples counseling sessions as well as drop-in hours and referral services to other resources nearby. Visit counseling.umd.edu for more resources.
Clara Longo de Freitas: So, we can start off by just kind of introducing ourselves and just saying our position with The Diamondback.
Kimi Fleming: I’m Kimi Fleming. I am the assistant Offbeat editor here at The Diamondback, and I’m also the multimedia editor.
Rosa Pyo: My name is Rosa. I am a podcast reporter.
Rachel Hunt: I’m Rachel Hunt. I’m the engagement editor at The Diamondback.
Elana Morris: I’m Elana Morris, and I am a diversions writer.
Khushboo Rathore: My name is Khushboo Rathore, and I am the graduate student beat reporter for the news desk.
Amelia Jarecke: My name is Amelia Jarecke, and I’m a multimedia reporter.
Taneen Momeni: My name is Taneen Momeni, and I’m a staff photographer.
Allison: I’m Allison Mollenkamp, and I’m the Offbeat editor.
Clara: Can you guys just describe to me what this whole year has been like for you? It can be very hard to describe that.
Rosa: If I can go, I think it’s been very anxiety-inducing. For me in particular, I remember before the pandemic even came to the United States, I got sick and I’d be coughing because I would get sick and people would look at me very oddly. And I was just like scared to go to class for a week. Something I wouldn’t worry about earlier.
But even throughout the pandemic, I’ve been extremely worried about getting hate crimed or whatnot. And especially last week, with everything that’s happened in Georgia. And that happened when I was in the Outer Banks, which is a very white population with Confederate flags and Trump signs and remnants of old plantations and whatnot. So it’s just been very anxiety-inducing, going to places that are specifically very white institutions — and just being there alone.
I think it’s also just, mental health is such a hard part right now. And I think for me, specifically, finding a therapist that comes from a lot of different intersectionalities — that’s Korean, a woman around my age — there’s like one in the DMV, and she left to do a study on shrooms. I was like, “No!”
She left to do a study on shrooms and psychedelics. It was on 60 Minutes, super proud of her. But she was the only non-faith-based Korean woman that was like 30-ish. And so it’s hard to find intersectional care, because specifically I know that how I grew up — being a child of immigrants, being a queer child of immigrants and so many other things — it’s hard to find somebody that understands those things.
Yeah, t’s just been a very anxiety-inducing year, because it’s just like waiting for something to happen. But you don’t know what and when, too, because everything’s just happening when people are getting vaccinated. But it’s a slow process. Just trying to be patient.
Clara: I can definitely relate to that, too. I feel like this whole year is just kind of like a time bomb, waiting to explode. And somehow I’m almost like, “OK, I just want it to explode, so then it just like ends.” But then it doesn’t.
It’s a very hard year, and it’s definitely anxiety-inducing. Anyone else want to jump in and tell me just what this year has been like for you guys?
Khushboo: So I was already in therapy and struggling with my own mental health long before the pandemic. At this point, I’ve been in therapy for almost five years. But this definitely took a very different kind of toll on my mental health that I don’t even understand fully now. I’ve missed a lot of therapy just because I sometimes don’t want to get out of bed or I just don’t want to talk to people, because I don’t understand the world as it is anymore.
And then being raised in a household where I’ve never really felt accepted. I spent most of my high school years only in this house when I was asleep. And it was very different to be here all the time, with no real option for escape.
And then my parents and my brother got vaccinated, so they started going out into the world. And sometimes I would get guilted into going with them, because otherwise I was ruining a family trip. And I didn’t realize how anxiety-inducing it would be, going out into the world. Even with masks on just going out in public places and being surrounded by people. I ended up having a really bad panic attack.
It’s been really hard to understand how I’m going to get back to the normal world once everyone is vaccinated and all this is over., Like, where do we go from here? And sometimes I’m just stuck in that circle of thought that’s just like, what happens next?
Allison: Both of you mentioned the idea of what comes next and waiting for things to happen. I think that’s been really hard, even since the beginning. Everybody was sort of like, well, when will we get to come out of quarantine? I think initially, people were like, “Oh, it’s two weeks.” Then it was like, “Well, maybe by the summer.” And we’ve just sort of pushed the day back and back and back.
And, I don’t know, they sent out the email saying, “Oh, school will be in person in the fall.” And I don’t know if I believe that. I certainly hope that it comes true, but I think there’s sort of a distrust that things will go right after a year of this.
Kimi: I think for me, I didn’t realize how much of my life I took for granted until this past year happened. And I see everyone nodding, because I know so many people that also feel like that.
But I am a very social person. I am also a very busy person. And I was always either — when I wasn’t in class, I was seeing my friends, I was at meetings for extracurriculars. Not having that is something I never thought I would miss, necessarily, because I used to be really introverted. But I have never felt this alone until COVID hit. And I’ve done my best to keep in touch with people and Zoom, it sucks staring at a computer, but it’s like the best we got.
And I think, especially coming back to school and I’m a very outdoorsy person. And when winter hit, I never left my apartment. And then the semester just ramped up, and I was sitting at my desk — mostly what I’ve been doing all day today — staring at my computer, doing work all day, not even having free time to like go for a walk or talk to my roommates because I am so stuck on my computer all the time. I missed that social interaction that really was a break in my day. And that’s something that I’ve been struggling with this entire year but especially during school, because being stuck in a college apartment with nothing else to do besides schoolwork is really bad for me.
Elana: I feel like at the beginning of the pandemic, I had this thought like, maybe I should go to therapy. But at the same time, you know, it’s kind of like a meteor hit. Like, we were all going through this sort of collective trauma. And I remember feeling like well, what’s the point of going to therapy when my therapist will inevitably be also just girding themselves against the everyday trauma of the pandemic?
Now, I’ve changed my tune. And now I’m kind of, I feel like, back in the search a little bit, because I have finally acknowledged that maybe I need a little nudge. But I’ve been thinking a lot about just the way that none of us are the same anymore. And I read this essay that kind of was like viral on Twitter a few weeks ago, that I think was titled, “You are not the same person you were before the pandemic.” And that really hit me, because it’s a thought that I’ve had many times.
I remember having this conversation early on about the way that grief and trauma affects us. And personally — I think the question about if people can essentially change is debatable, and some people think that it’s not really possible to change who you are on a basic level — but I think that one of the things that does do that, that does kind of engender that change, is loss and grief. And I kind of had this thought like this might be the first time — and maybe the only time — in our lives collectively that we’re all having that sort of major loss. Some very small, you know, some of us are lucky enough to not have lost anybody close to us. And then some are major, really major trauma, really intensive loss. And I just kind of feel like, I don’t really know how you can come out of that unchanged on maybe a sort of basic level.
Taneen: I feel like my entire life — like yes, everything has changed, but day-to-day, I feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again. Like I’m stuck in this weird Groundhog Day loop, and I can’t get out. And then with that, there’s also — especially at the beginning of the pandemic, even though things haven’t really changed except for having a vaccine — I felt like I was constantly screaming into the void of trying to get people to care about what’s happening. So it’s like a loop of all of my activities are the same all the time, but also a loop of poor behavior and selfishness that other people are exhibiting, and I can’t really do anything to change them. So it was just really hard to get myself to not feel hopeless, I guess. Because there’s only so much one person can do. And I feel like especially in this time there were so many things happening with the pandemic and then also police brutality and then the rise in racial bias incidents or in general hate crimes for Asian people. And so it’s like, how many things can we go through at once when nobody will change their behavior.
So it was a really, honestly, terrible time, regardless of background, I guess. Because there are so many people that you care about that are being affected mentally and physically with abuse and also like just COVID, in general. And it’s just really difficult to not feel stuck and helpless.
Rachel: Well, literally and metaphorically, I think, this year has been like packing up a suitcase, moving somewhere, unpacking my suitcase, packing it back up, and going somewhere else, and re-unpacking it. I feel like it was a very rough year, like everybody else said.
And I think for me, it was like finally opening up the suitcase and landing on that final destination of “I’m actually gonna unpack this.” Because I had never gone to therapy before, except for like, one time and then I convinced my mom to let me get out of it. And then last year, just everything hit the fan. And I was diagnosed with Bipolar II and anxiety disorder and panic attack disorder.
It was finally like I was understanding a lot of my experience that I hadn’t understood before.
Because all of a sudden I had a name or word to something that had always just kind of been there. And so I think kind of dealing with having a word for it — because I never wanted to label it, because all of a sudden you’re labeled — and it’s like, who do we know with bipolar? Like Kanye and Halsey, and how can you be on a scale with them, right?
So I think really unpacking that, and then I’ve been doing some pretty intensive therapy. So I go twice a week. But that on top of just like reflecting by myself, like with journals or art or poetry or just reading a book — and also like engaging in like faith and spirituality, in what you believe the meaning of this all is — I think has been really grounding. And finally being like, “OK, I’m gonna open this suitcase, and I’m gonna leave it open. I’m not just going to put things back under my bed once they’re done.”
Because I think I was doing that, up until the pandemic hit. Then, all of a sudden, you have stuff and you can’t put it back at that point. It’s just too much, with like personal trauma, collective trauma and then internalizing other people’s trauma.
I mean, you’ve heard it before. We’re fearing for our lives every day, just with COVID and everything that’s going on. And I think it’s definitely important kind of, in that time to discover who you are and discover what makes you happy and what doesn’t make you happy. And what you want to do at the end of all this. Yeah, kind of the light at the end of the tunnel.
Clara: So I’ve actually been going to therapy now for — I can’t count for years, five years, something like that. And it’s been OK. It’s been oddly OK, I haven’t actually felt the pandemic that much until this month, not because like I’m living in another world, just because it’s my way of coping. I just kind of usually numb it all out. I’m just kind of like existing at this point. And it started to hit me this month because Brazil, my home country, it’s at its worst it has ever been. You know, like the ICU beds are all occupied. There’s just no vaccine or just no hope. And that’s like when things really started to hit.
And, kind of like what Rosa said about finding a therapist that gets you in a more essential way, it’s really hard. Because my therapist, she’s lovely, but you know, she’s not a child of immigrants, she’s not Brazilian, obviously. So it can be very hard to go to her and scream about what’s been going on. Because she can kind of relate to you, but it’s never the same.
If you guys want to talk also about just like how you guys have been looking for a therapist?
Rosa: I think something people need to hear is that finding a therapist that is right for you is like dating, if not even harder. Because you’re like baring your motherfreakin’ soul to them about things that you don’t even know. They’re just like unpacking it.
But also like find someone within your shared experience. I mean, sometimes it’s better not to, but specifically for me, when I go to therapy and I talk about some very specific cultural thing, sometimes I don’t want the mental weight of having to explain it. Sometimes, I think it’s really nice and just amazing to be understood. Sometimes you don’t know. I date around with therapists, you know. If anything, I was a hoe with therapists. And you know, sometimes it’s like, the first date, you’ll figure it out. You’re like, “Oh, you’re not the one.” But sometimes it takes like, a month or so. And like, don’t feel bad if you need to break up with them. Definitely give them feedback, like, “Hey, I think you’re great, Sarah. But I think I need like X, Y, and Z from a therapist.” The spark has to be there, which sounds wild when it comes to therapy, but like, there has to be a connection. Because you have to ultimately trust them.
There’s a lot of great resources online for different communities of color on finding therapists of color. And I think I first started on like psychologytoday.com, and I clicked the little filters and did it. That’s a great first option, but know that there’s other places that you can look specifically for certain resources, and they’re great.
Khushboo: I am on my, I think, my third therapist, and at some point in the middle of those I went to a bunch of one-appointment trials. And let me tell you, it was an experience. What Rosa said is so accurate, right? You’re probably not going to find a therapist that fits you your very first shot. And if you do honestly, good for you. And that’s amazing. But you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t — that’s just part of life.
My first therapist was one my parents actually chose. Because I was coming right out of middle school, they didn’t think I was mature enough to make my own decisions. She was like this interactive play therapist. And it just — at some point, it stopped working for me. And she was also like a female, Indian — I think she was either the child of immigrants or like a second-generation immigrant — but we just didn’t click, and I couldn’t trust her. And it felt like she wasn’t really listening to me.
Another thing that’s really frustrating about mental health treatment is that it’s so expensive, unless you find one who’s on your insurance and you vibe with. And it’s really hard to be able to afford therapy.
I’m lucky in that my parents are making enough money for me to be able to go to therapy and have a psychiatrist and have a therapist who’s not on our insurance. And I vibe with her. And she’s a 50-year-old white woman. She has like four kids. One of them is my age. But she gets me, and she listens to me. So I definitely understand finding someone who relates to you, but there’s also something to be said about just finding someone who listens.
Rachel: Your therapist should give you homework. And maybe not like too much homework where it’s stressful and you have your own homework on your own, but they shouldn’t give you bite-sized activities or explorations or journal prompts or things that you can go do on your own that can just help you process through the week or help you reprogram your thoughts and stuff like that.
I think that’s been the biggest thing I’ve learned from my most recent therapist is that getting homework can be good in that it forces you to grow. And I think especially when you’re like resisting growth, having something that’s like kinda in the back of your head — like a book to read or a feelings wheel or something like that — definitely can help.
Kimi: I feel like also just normalizing talking about mental health. Because personally, I was never really comfortable having these types of conversations with people in my life until now.
Elana: I kind of wanted to go to Rosa’s point on finding a therapist that shares your culture or shares your cultural values, because I’m still sort of figuring this out. I think there’s also a value in finding somebody who doesn’t share your culture. I’m kind of coming from the experience of — OK, so I’m Jewish, and I went through a period where I was sort of determined to find a Jewish therapist.
I thought, “OK, this is what I need, I need somebody who can relate to my cultural experience, who understands what I’m talking about. I don’t want to have to explain anything to you.” And I don’t know, I didn’t have a bad experience. But I do remember — as I’ve sort of reflected back on it — I have kind of wondered if that familiarity can be both an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time. I don’t know. I think there’s sort of there are certain things that maybe we normalize a little bit.
I mean, at least in my culture, I feel like anxiety and depression is so prevalent. I can’t really speak for other ones, though I know that’s definitely not exclusive to me. But I remember having a conversation with a therapist I was seeing at one point. I feel like I remember her saying something like, “Oh, you remind me of myself at your age.” And a part of me was like, “Oh, yeah, I want to create distance. I don’t know if I’m necessarily comfortable with that.”
Right now I’m kind of in the beginning of it, but a few weeks ago, I bought Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong, I think is the author. In the beginning, she’s talking about treating her depression. I believe she’s Korean American, and she goes through this sort of experience where she’s determined to see this specific Korean therapist, and it doesn’t end up working out. It’s just this very unpleasant journey, because she’s so determined to have this therapist that shares her culture and in the end, it kind of just ends up being this weird, wild goose chase.
But anyway, yes, I don’t have an answer yet. I think that it’s so complicated. And there’s so much value in finding somebody who shares your cultural values. And maybe there’s also a little bit of value in distance.
Rosa: Going back to the dating anecdote: Much like dating, you don’t always have to date your type. Sometimes opposite attractions work, or the people that you least expect it work. So just date around, find people.
And I feel like something that’s really important, especially through the pandemic, before the pandemic, people that are going to see therapy — before, during, right now — is: Progress is not linear. And definitely that is such the case with everything going on. And that doesn’t mean that you’re not progressing or getting better or going to the place that you need to be. It’s just, it’s not linear. It goes many different funky directions. But eventually, it’s going to go to the place you need, when you’re putting in the work and trying to be better and coping.
Rachel: I would also say that it’s easier said than done. Like, it’s OK to be afraid to make the move to go to therapy. But don’t wait until it’s too late to make that move. I know there’s a lot of shame and stigma around that whole thing about going to therapy, finding a therapist, opening up with your problems. But it would be much easier to do that now than have something happen and then have to backtrack. So I would definitely say like it’s OK to be scared, but maybe get support from other people or have somebody help you schedule an appointment or find a therapist or talk to other people who have — and then kind of just take a leap of faith.
Clara: I think one other thing that I would say is that we have to keep in mind that therapy is not the only solution. And it doesn’t work for everyone. And it might mean that you might have to do — get some medicine, and that’s totally fine. I think it can be a cultural thing where people are like, “Oh my God, this person is taking like medicine.” That’s normal. Like, yes, I take medicine for my mental health, and my dad, he takes it for blood pressure. It’s the same thing.
And mental health is something that you have to like work on it every day. And not just in those little sessions. So I think one thing that I’ve been doing a lot to just be able to cope is just kind of drawing a lot, just like doodling, just trying to express myself in some way. And also just in general, accepting all of these feelings, because I feel like at some point I was just kind of trying to just not accept it being like, “No, it’s fine. I’m OK. Like, this is just like staying at home, I always stay at home, what’s the point?” But that’s just one of the ways that I’ve been trying to cope. And that’s what has worked for me is just trying to find a way to express what I have to express and accept that I have to not be OK, and that I don’t have to pretend that everything is fine, because it’s not. And that’s fine.
So that’s just another thing that I think we can talk a little bit: about ways that you guys have been trying to cope with all of this. And I guess any suggestions that you guys might have for folks to who are also struggling.
Kimi: Something that I’ve really turned to is just prioritizing my self care. I think when I get depressed or I get stuck in my own head, I don’t take care of myself, I won’t clean my room. And that’s something that I know if I do, I’m going to feel better. So if I put my work down, take a shower, do my hair, clean my room, I know I’m going to feel better about myself, even though I’m not doing my work. So that’s something that I’ve definitely started doing more of since the pandemic started.
Allison: Yeah, in terms of like things to do that have been helpful in just sort of coping day-to-day, I think it’s helped to realize that everyone else is lonely, too. And I definitely sometimes have anxiety of “I am better friends with people than they are with me — I probably like them more than they like me.” But it’s actually not true, usually.
I think the first time I was brave about that — my birthday was in June last year, I sort of waited and waited and waited. I was like, “What should I do for my birthday?” And the day before I did a goofy Facebook event and sent invites to people from all different times and places in my life and was like, “Hey, if you want to be on Zoom for like 45 minutes — I can’t give you any cake because it’s on Zoom — but let’s chat.” And all of these different people who had never met each other showed up, and we all got to just spend a little bit of time together. And I’ve done some little play readings with some of those people on Zoom. And so I think we have things like this: realizing that everyone is going through the pandemic together. Other people like you just as much as you like them. Reach out, even if it’s for one day in the future.
Elana: This is such a random thing, but over winter break, I started waking up and, instead of looking at my phone, I would read a short story. And something about it was just really wonderful and just very tactile to hold something in your hand besides this horrible phone square.
Amelia: I would like your recommendation on a short story collection.
Elana: Okay, I will, I will gather my lists.
Amelia: I would say the only thing I could offer is also that I struggled a lot with my own identity crumbling at the time that the pandemic started, and the culture crumbling around me as I knew it. So anything that gave me a feeling of control was really welcomed during the pandemic, even just going out for a drive or getting a coffee. Even though everything felt so pointless, it was like, “OK, it’s pointless, but no one cares then, so I can go do what is going to make me feel better for the next two hours.” So that was helpful.
Clara: And it doesn’t have to be like these big, grandiose moves. Like one thing that — oh my God that is just mental health for me is just watching really stupid TV shows about just very dumb problems, like rich people problems. There’s something super entertaining about being in a pandemic and watching something like Big Little Lies that are just like these rich people having problems. Oh my God, it’s the best. Sitcoms are also really good. Big Little Lies is my life. Watching white women just be white and be pissed off. It’s very fun.
So if you guys can just like give me examples of these little things. It isn’t just like something you’re interested in, but like little things that people can do that might help every day. You know, the short story that Elana reads every morning, just these little things that, a lot of times, kind of make your day. Just watching rich people having problems is very therapeutic. I’m like, “OK, at least I don’t have like a dead body or something in my closet.” You know?
Taneen: I have a lot of little things. I don’t go to therapy, because I feel like it’s a cultural thing. But also, I guess my own problem. But last semester, when it was still like kind of nice out every Friday, I would get breakfast from Dunkin and eat it outside. Because I wanted just a special little moment of like me doing my own little thing, drinking my little coffee, eating a sandwich. I also really like being outside, and I think during the pandemic, I kind of found that nature really is so amazing. And it’s like one of the only good things that’s still happening, I guess.
So even after work, or if I feel like I’m just not having a good time in my room, I’ll just go and lay outside for an hour. And I’ll lay there, not on my phone. I probably look really crazy, but it really doesn’t matter. I’m just laying out on McKeldin Mall.
Also another thing, I got a bunch of candles recently, and I found how it can really change your space. Like just having a little different sensory detail happening, sensory thing happening, that’s different it can really make.
Here, I have a candle recommendation. This is driftwood and sea salt from Michael’s. And it’s the best candle I’ve ever owned. So just little things like that, where I’m changing up everything that’s going on.
I also have crystals. That was another thing that I went through during this pandemic, where I just started getting like tarot cards and crystals. I think that’s another coping mechanism, where I don’t know enough about it to be able to explain it. So I think that’s basically what’s happening in general. And getting guidance from spirits and other energy and just having these little things that can kind of help me out along the way that isn’t me speaking about my problems or reading about bad things that are happening has been really helpful. And just having something else that I can’t see or really be connected with visually has been really good, because it really resonates every time I do a reading for myself. It’s so helpful.
Rosa: I feel like this entire pandemic, one good thing is I’ve become such a goblin witch, and I have my plethora of crystals that I give to people that I bought out of a bag out of sand. I sifted it through, and I washed them and I gave them to people. One of my friends wanted to go to University of Illinois, Chicago, and I found a really shiny crystal that kind of looked like the Chicago Bean. And I was like, “Here, we’re manifesting this.” And he got in! Maybe not due to the crystal, but I don’t know, I think these are like nice little gifts to give people.
I think also tarot cards, like Taneen said, are a very interesting way of doing introspection. Almost the same thing with horoscopes. Some people don’t believe them and I’m so chill with that. I do think is a really nice way of talking about ourselves to other people in ways that aren’t as clinical.
Like, “Oh, this is borderline personality disorder.” Like, “No, you’re acting like such a Scorpio right now! You have an Aries moon, you’re so angry!” instead of being like, “Oh, you obviously have issues with your father that is continuously putting more rage inside of you.” It’s really nice ways of talking about these feelings and how we feel about ourselves and other people around us that’s not intimidating. It’s a really nice way of doing it. So I’ve been reading people’s charts, I’ve been doing tarot card readings, I’ve been lighting candles, buying lavender and plants, using them in my candles, just being a little witch, which my family must really not like. They’re all Catholic, so they’re all “Ah,” and I’m just like “Lavender, Eucalyptus.”
But it’s been a really nice coping mechanism through all of this, and just like propagating plants and giving it to people and just doing those little things for people that they could have inside their own homes.
Allison: Mine are not as cool. Over winter break, I got really into The Price is Right. Especially over winter break, being able to just like sit and not do other stuff from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and people get to win stuff and they always seem so happy. And Drew Carey tells everyone to wear a mask at the end! And it’s just very calming. And also if you’re at home, you can mostly feel like you’re better at The Price is Right than other people, but I think I would do terribly if I actually got on the show.
Outside is definitely so important. I love outside. Whenever I feel like the most down, I remind myself like, “OK, this can be fixed. Outside is a good first step.” It’s very easy. It’s so close.
And also like rereading books from when I was a kid or even books that are aimed at kids, but not ones I read when I was younger. It’s not hard. It’s not difficult. It’s just sort of nice, accessible-to-middle-schoolers level story. But to be reading again is good — along with outside.
Khushboo: My thing has definitely been reading. One day, our like full-on internet, the entire thing, just went out in my area. So I just got on my Kindle, and I started reading books. And currently, I have read 63 books this year. And like they’re all just straight romantic, romantic-comedy trash. But this year is 2021, yes. But I don’t have to think about it, and I can just read and enjoy. It just brings me joy to see people falling in love and being happy. And I don’t know, there’s just something about that. But definitely reading for me.
And then just playing video games. I play Stardew Valley, which is basically just you have your own farm. And I don’t have to do anything,.I can just vibe, watch people do things. And I just think that taking a second and stepping away from your screen is also just something that can help every day. And definitely separating out your different spaces in life, right? Having a space like your desk where you work. Having a different space, maybe like your couch, where you relax. And then having a space where you sleep. That can definitely help you manage your life and your feelings and just help you make time for yourself, because you also have a space for all these different pieces.
Rosa: Yeah, I agree if you can, and if you’re — it’s such a privilege to have a sleeping space versus a workspace — that if you can, try to work outside, try to work in other places, because I think that it just not good. Every time I work next to my bed or on my bed, it just like calls me to sleep like the sleep paralysis demon. And it’s like, “Go to bed sweet child, sweet child go to bed,” and then I fall asleep. So maybe try to like space it out, and plus it’s just nice to go outside.
Taneen: Also, if you can’t separate it — because my desk is right next to my bed — I have different candles that I’ll put on. So my driftwood candle, I do that while I’m in class or while I’m working so that that can be the kind of smell that’s happening. And then for when I’m just doing my own thing, I have apple and peach candles. So I feel like that change of scent kind of makes a distinction in my brain, hopefully.
Also, another thing for the video games, I’ve been playing The Sims a lot, but I just go to work and I try to get promoted. And so it’s like kind of crazy, but then sometimes I’ll try to cause a ruckus and — this is irrelevant — but I’ll try to like ruin relationships in The Sims. So weird things that you can do on video games that you probably shouldn’t do in real life or can’t do because of the pandemic, so I recommend The Sims or Animal Crossing and just grow some plants. There’s so many things you can do — that aren’t Zoom — on like technology.
Rosa: I hate how much I’ve gotten into anime over this entire quarantine. Like all summer, I was watching Cowboy Bebop, and right now I’m watching Attack on Titan. And it’s been a really nice escapism for me because I think most of the time when I watch things, I kind of listen to it. I don’t really watch it. But like when I watch anime, it forces me to visually watch the screen, because I have to read the subtitles because it’s not dubbed, it’s like subbed, you know? And really pay attention to everything going on.
And I feel like I have a really bad habit — as do a lot of people from our generation — of watching things, but it’s kind of background noise just so you don’t feel lonely. So you’re watching things but not really consuming it to its full potential or taking full appreciation. For me specifically, it’s been very good to like just focus on one thing at one time, put my phone down. Maybe, at the very most, I’m consuming tea and maybe my cat’s next to me. But I’m focused visually on one thing. And that’s been really nice.
I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed with everything going — with just all my senses, I’m doing so many things at once. It’s actually on the computer, right? We’re on Zoom. But we’re also on our textbooks. We’re also messaging your friend in the class. And we’re also answering Slack notifications, and we just got an email about a 20% off coupon for Bed, Bath and Beyond. So it’s just so much.
Clara: Thank you to all the Diamondback staff for hopping on this conversation with us. I hope it helps. Stay safe, safe, healthy, love yourself. Thanks for listening.
Allison: Thanks for listening to Offbeat and tune in the last Friday in April for a brand new episode about all things witchy and mystic.