BY AMANDA MOSES
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a huge pause on life in New York City for over six months. Our daily routines and social activities have been halted, and we were catapulted into a “new normal,” including social distancing from family and friends while also working remotely.
Many have lost their jobs, with an unemployment rate hitting 20.4% (about 1,472,600 people in June), according to the New York Department of Labor. The constant fear for safety and the inability to socialize like before has been hovering over many. Although Governor Andrew Cuomo implemented various phases to help us regain a semblance of normalcy, our individual emotional states are a lot harder to repair. Experts have found that the pandemic has exacerbated mental illness issues and developed cases of uneasiness and depression across the United States.
The Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) partnered to distribute a survey and uncovered a significant increase in major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder symptoms (many of which have doubled from that past few years). In July, about 41% of individuals in New York reported symptoms of Anxiety Disorder and 36% with depression (the highest afflicted group are ages 18 to 29).
Self-isolation has been the biggest contributor to these feelings. One of the most common symptoms of anxiety and depression are negative
thoughts that keep circling in your mind, and while therapy is the
best solution for this, some doctors also recommend activities
and self care methods to mitigate obsessive thoughts, according
to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
In order to help beat the quarantine blues, there are a plethora of activities you can participate in alone, with your family, or even virtually with friends.
Mindfulness and finding inner peace may seem too spiritual for
some, but keeping your body active while in quarantine is good for
your circulatory system, heart, and overall mental well-being. The
Brooklyn Sports Club (BSC) and Spring Creek Senior Partners (SCSP) are
offering free lessons that allow you to interact with others remotely.
The BSC Virtual Gym (on Facebook) includes Yoga and Meditation Instructor, Kevin Campbell, who shares Facebook Live videos on how to perform various yoga positions and meditation methods. If yoga is not your thing, there are other activities to keep your body moving and your mind focused: aerobics, dancercise, Zumba, and more.
On Wednesdays, SCSP offers virtual workshops for seniors to participate in from their electronic devices: Age Perfect with Pilates (10 am to 11 am), Stronger Longer (11am to 12pm), and on Fridays Health & Nutrition (3pm to 4pm). For more information about these workshops call 718-348- 7620.
The adage, beauty is in the eye of the beholder can be perceived for art as well. You don’t have to be an expert to paint or draw, just let your mind take away all of your worries and put them on paper. You can throw in poetry or even random thoughts into your art. But the most important part is to express yourself. The biggest problem with anxiety is that all of your fears are bundled inside waiting to unravel. This is when it would be helpful to speak with a health professional about your thoughts. Additionally, art can be a therapeutic process, producing a tangible end result.
The Spring Creek After School Program kept their students actively engaged during the springtime remote learning by implementing various fun projects, such as using household items (paper plates, paper, and buttons) to create koala pictures, vinyl records, and Walkman replicas. They also had their students combine art and literacy by having them develop comic books.
Prior to the pandemic, JASA would often host a program called “Color Your Stress Away” where seniors print out pictures and color them. This activity was highly successful because it allowed the seniors to concentrate on a specific project while also allowing them to embrace their creativity. Many of them would send off their creations to families as tokens of their affection.
Indoor gardening is a very relaxing experience, and it doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. Spring Creek Towers’ Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman spent the spring teaching a remote class entitled, Science is Real, where children and their parents conducted science experiments and developed an indoor garden using household items.
You don’t have to always go out and purchase seeds and pots to plant. You can simply use vegetable scraps, such as the seeds from a lemon or an avocado pit. For example, you can insert toothpicks inside of an avocado pit, place the bottom half into a jar filed with water and wait for it to grow roots. The same can be done for a carrot stem, pineapple, and even lettuce. You can use a shoebox or a jar and fill it with soil, you can even make a planter pot from rolled up newspaper.
Playing video games are not just activities for children. It is something anyone with a computer, tablet, or gaming system (PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo products) can enjoy. Spring Creek Teen Central provides an outlet for teens to play critical thinking games, such as chess, Jeopardy, and word trivia’s that keep their minds sharp. The most important aspect of playing games is to keep busy, and in turn you can play online with friends. There are several free applications, such as Google Hangouts, Boggle, Wheel of Fortune, and Words with Friends that can be played with others virtually. This allows you to engage socially and keep yourself entertained.
Teen Central also offers members ages 12 to 17 the opportunity to create podcasts, Daily Debates, 360 Tours virtual tours, join the Anime Club, Girls Who Code, and so many other virtual activities. For more information contact: Teencentral@springcreektowers.com
These activities are only suggestions to keep yourself entertained to beat the quarantine blues. However, you should still contact a health professional immediately if you are feeling depressed or anxious. These feelings are not something that a person can deal with on their own. Contact 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355.) NYC Well is New York City’s free, confidential support, crisis intervention, and information and referral service for anyone seeking help for mental health and/or substance misuse concerns. They are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Screenshots by: Amanda Moses